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Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #1

Posted: Saturday, December 6, 2008
By: Ray Tate

Mike Mignola
Duncan Fegredo, Dave Stewart (c)
Dark Horse Comics
Hellboy is invited on a Wild Hunt by some old acquaintances. Along the way, the reader gets a crash course in some of Big Red's former haunts. Meanwhile, Gruagach, the pig thing with the iron mitts, lobbies for the new demon queen of England.

The idea behind the hunt bristles with imagination. The Wild Hunt is part of Celtic folklore. Indeed Herne, the god of the Hunt, is mentioned, but Mignola adds a new twist. According to the Hellboy creation myth, humankind took over the earth from the fairyfolk. The Hunt, according to its representatives, has been redirected to exterminate the giants who occasionally rise from their dormancy. One or two, the hunters can handle, but six requires a Big Red intervention.

The unique protocol alone would be enough to earn the book four bullets. This is more creativity than most comic book writers are capable of generating. Mignola, though, is extra cagey. He choreographs scenes building up the idea of a giant hunt. Fegredo ably provides surreal imagery such as the wall sporting trophies of giant heads. Then Mignola foreshadows a second revelation about the Hunt. The flourish is so quickly executed that the secret behind the veil almost occurs exactly at the moment when the reader starts questioning the meaning behind the foreshadowing.

The Wild Hunt provides Mignola and Fegredo the opportunity to create yet another oddball cast member in the Hellboy mythos. The Hunt Master is arguably just a man in a suit, but Fegredo makes him look creepier and weirder. Mignola's words tip him over the edge of the mortal coil. The goal and mien is that of a man, but his dialogue characterizes him as something more.

Dave Stewart makes the colors in Hellboy mean something. The sparseness of color recalls black and white horror flicks that were made on the cusp of color film. It was during this turning point that genre directors would experiment with a dash of color for blood or glowing green for a demon's eyes. Stewart's colors accent the bright red of Hellboy's hide to contrast the grim grays and earthen colors ranging from pale green to ochre brown. It's as if Big Red's aboil from within. Eldritch energy sparkles orange, and fiery colors emphasize a dark blood lust.

Who are the hunters, and what is the hunted leads to a merry chase for the reader in Hellboy: The Wild Hunt. The energy mostly missing from the last Hellboy mini-series reforms for the latest effort by Mignola, Fegredo and Stewart. Mignola keeps the focus squarely on Hellboy and as a result he doesn't seem like a guest star in his own book. He's an active participant.



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