Hellboy fights The Dragon. If you have been following Hellboy all these years, that is about all you need to know to rush down to your local comic shop and pick up the latest issue of Hellboy: The Fury. The long-prophesied apocalypse has come, and meeting on a field of battle are the unleashed horsemen War, Famine, Plague and Death, facing off against the risen Once and Future King and his holy knights.
And far away from the clashing armies, Hellboy is locked in single-combat against The Dragon, the ultimate beast whose presence on Earth heralds the end of everything.
Like any epic story arc, we all know what the middle chapter is right? This is the all-fighting issue, the point of impact when all of those carefully plotted stories come smashing into each other like a tidal wave pounding a cliff face. We aren’t going to have any winners or losers, or maybe the dark side will gain the upper hand for awhile so we can have the big come back in the final chapter.
Only it doesn’t work that way.
Mignola’s core story with Hellboy has always been less about good vs. evil than about choosing one’s own destiny. Hellboy was born with one purpose, to be the beast of the apocalypse. By rejecting that destiny, he erased his entire identity and created chaos into a well-ordered prophecy of the end of the world. Imagine if in The Omen movies Damien just decided he didn’t want to be the Anti-Christ. Would Satan take that lying down? Would all the hellborn just thrown in their cards and say "Oh well, that plan was a bust"? Like many parents, the Dragon isn’t angry at Hellboy, so much as he is disappointed.
By contrast, King Arthur is a man who allows destiny to over take him, to perform the function he was designed for. He has a single purpose, to stand against darkness for a moment, and he performs his task admirably at the sacrifice of himself. As the witch women gather up his corpse, they say "King for a day. That’s all he was…All he was ever going to be…"
It is a melancholy tale.
Of course, along with all that soul-searching and destiny accepting-or-rejecting, there is still a hurly-burly to be done, still a battle lost and won. Much of the big action takes place off-panel. We see the initial clash of King Arthur against the Black Hordes, and then nothing else until the empty field is revealed. Meanwhile Hellboy goes against The Dragon, with the psychic backlash from their clash tearing apart London (and one assumes the world). Artist Duncan Fegredo did a masterful job on these battle scenes, with The Dragon growing in size in every panel, and the fight intercut with scenes of London falling down.
Hellboy: The Fury #2 is the middle chapter, which means we get no resolution. We have to wait for the conclusion for that. Little Alice Monigan still has some role to play in the shifting tide of events, and it is anybody’s guess as to whether The Dragon will be defeated for good, and what it will mean for Hellboy to have even less of a purpose in life once The Dragon is gone.
I can’t wait!
Ray Tate also reviewed Hellboy: The Fury #2. Read his thoughts, too!
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