Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead #2

A comic review article by: Thomas Crawford
Another creepy case comes to a close as Hellboy sorts things out with a very creepy ghost. Meanwhile, his less-than-impressive backup deals with the beginnings of a zombie apocalypse.

This two-issue story had me at Scott Hampton. Mike Mignola’s signature creation always makes for a fun horror/fantasy read, but throwing the artist on the prematurely retired Simon Dark in to the mix, this was a story just begging me to read it.

Sure enough, this was everything I wanted in a Hellboy comic. The big red badass throws down some serious fisticuffs with a child ghost while zombies rise en masse, all beautifully rendered in a style that, while acknowledging Mignola’s signature style that helped make the character so popular, makes this story its own. Scott Hampton takes the gothic, moody cartoonish style of Mignola and blends it with the gritty realism of Alex Maleev to make a visual treat for the readers. Even the brick walls in this book are worth a look. I hope that in the future, if we can’t have Mignola drawing these stories, we can have Hampton on art duties, because he proves beyond question that he knows what Hellboy’s world should look like.

The story itself, while it does not perform as well, is still pretty strong. It’s a simple good guy vs. bad guy fight, and doesn’t claim to be anything but. There are no epic metaphors here, no statements on society or art, just good ol’ Hellboy fighting the good fight. We don’t get quite as much characterization from our scarlet protagonist as we have in the past, but Hellboy makes a few words go a long way, with a simple “What took you so long?” giving even the least experienced HB reader some insight in to how the man does what he does. My one gripe, and the one thing that keeps this story from a five-bullet rating, is that the main villain isn’t named once in this issue. Looking at both parts of the story it’s a non-issue, but reviewing this issue on its own, it’d be nice to know the name of the bad guy.

My final recommendation is to go out and grab this the next chance you get. And, if you missed it, see about getting the first chapter, too. This is the sort of comic that reminds you how much fun can be had with this medium.

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