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HellBoy: The Crooked Man #3

Posted: Monday, September 29, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari

Mike Mignola
Richard Corben, Dave Stewart (c)
Dark Horse Comics
The macabre battle for Tom Ferrellís soul ends in the melancholic way it began. This is the creepiest HellBoy story Iíve ever read. There are no cute one-liners, or obscure mythos to follow. Itís a tale of understanding the power of oneís soul, set in the frightening wilderness of the Appalachian Mountains.

This last installment is a much quicker read than its predecessors, but it succinctly ties up the story with expected gloom. Tom Ferrell is a warlock who made a pact with a devil called the Crooked Man years ago. Leaving his home to escape the devilís calling, Ferrell returns twenty years later to find the Crooked Man still looking for him. With the help of Hellboy, they set out bury Tomís father and confront the devil.

Much of the allure of Crooked Man comes from Richard Corbenís art, which is sketchy and gritty. His characters have a propinquity to the reader, constantly speaking outward rather facing each other. The effect brings the reader closer into the story without undercutting the movement of the narrative. Moreover, once in this world, the reader is enveloped by Corben and colorist Dave Stewartís darkness. Both artists capture the terrifying fear of the wilderness at night: a pitch-black stew of horrors.

As for Mignolaís dialogue, it is effectual and reflects the slow pace of country folk. For example, a priest in the midst of battle with the Crooked Man still awkwardly but cautiously puts his words into a sentence: ďThat little bit of power they give ta him in hell -- he canít stand ta be parted with a nickelís worth. You not usin' that thing for mischief is drivin' him crazy.Ē The sentence is constructed with a clumsiness that seeks to explain a great deal with only so many words at its disposal. It is akin to describing a massive phenomenon in only ten words. Coupled with colloquialisms Mignola makes this character and others believeable, and by extension the story as well.

Pick it up in trade or hound down the floppies, but read HellBoy: The Crooked Man. Youíll never look at a bridled horse the same way again.



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