Hellboy makes one smile on page one, and that's just the recap. Mignola assumes the voice of a professional narrator such as that found on Masterpiece Theater, but he instills a disconnect between the tone of what actually happened and how this identity interprets the story. For example, the narrator states that the witches offered Hellboy the crown, and Hellboy refused. Nice and neutral, but if you look at the dialogue ballooning from the distant shot of the witches' abode, you will read a pleasant "Screw you guys!"
The story lives up to that opening salvo. As the forces gather, the witches mistake Hellboy for Odin and then Thor, and this is another subtle tweak at convention. The witches respect the gods. You can hear it in their chorus of cackling voices. When they discover the figure is really Hellboy, the instance is hardly momentous.
Mignola juxtaposes Hellboy's confrontation with Nimue, who realizes that her pact with the dark forces perhaps was a mistake, against Alice's fruition of her dreams of Camelot. At first, the resurgence of the warrior seems to come out of nowhere and ties into the Edward Grey Witchfinder stories. In hindsight, you realize that the ring of undead knights surrounding the inn where Alice and Hellboy resided in fact foreshadowed events. This is another classic sleight of hand from Mignola. Hellboy will not use Excalibur against Nimue. He was never meant to wield it. As with much of his wanderings, he was led by higher forces to the inn to deliver the sword. Alice had to accompany Hellboy because a lady always bestows Excalibur to the worthy knight.
Duncan Fegredo and Dave Stewart surpass their already legendary efforts in previous Hellboy outings. As a flashback occurs, they change their style from that of the reflective Mignola dark look to a near shadowless, lighter style. It's almost as if another artist -- perhaps Kaluta or Moebius -- took over the reigns, but it's all Fegredo and Stewart. Lucky for the readers.
Zack Davisson also reviewed Hellboy: The Fury #1. Read his thoughts, too!
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