Advance Review: Facing Your Demons In Hellboy In Hell #8

25947-1The point of a comic like Hellboy in Hell, particularly, is to give away very few potential spoilers, especially here in the second half of the "Hounds of Pluto" which presents many mysteries and adds to them in interesting ways throughout.

But I want to mention that at this point in the Mignolaverse, Mike and the team on various books seem to be aware of a special relationship with their readers, particularly those who have come a long way with them. There are additions and details in the storylines like Frankenstein Underground, B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth, and even Abe Sapien that don't have to be there to simply tell the main arc of the story—they are there for narrative depth that pre-supposes the reader more or less deserves to peek behind the curtain at this point.

I've commented before on how Frankenstein Underground really helps us see an encapsulated view of the Hellboy universe's mythology in a graceful, compact way, when the monster hears the history of the world. Here in Hellboy in Hell: "Hounds of Pluto" (#7 and #8 in a 2-parter), the hints in #7 about the relationship between the events in The Wild Hunt and Hellboy's current state, with Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart at the top of their game on some innovative artwork, and also the continual exploration of Hellboy's personality, are major additions to our knowledge of this world.

Speaking about #8, out this Wednesday, I can say that if Hellboy and his past interest you, and if piecing together potentially unexplained incidents in his past that relate to his identity are compelling to you, this is a must-read issue. I can imagine that there are some readers who like Hellboy for the big sweep of the story universe, and some who like it for the deadpan but paradoxically emotional characterization, but you've got both coming together in Issue #8.

In typical Mignola style, he rattles off extremely significant events as a matter of course and you're left wondering what kind of impact this has had on Hellboy to be confronted with truths from the past. I suspect it does effect him hugely, and Mike gives us a couple of close ups that suggest what's going on under the surface for our hero. The previously established story of Doctor Hoffman and his determined rival forms an interesting backdrop to these revelations—a reminder that in some ways the past never dies. It is that haunting thing that just keeps coming back to prey on our characters. And in Hell, that's where it can all come back to prey on Hellboy repeatedly. Talk about facing your demons.

Summing up my reactions to the entire "Hounds of Pluto" arc, I am really pleased as a reader to see that Mignola seems to have taken some of the new freedoms he developed in narrative technique in Frankenstein Underground and apply them to exploring Hellboy in Hell. Though given that this story has been underway "a long time" apparently, the influence could possibly be the other way around. There's a certain fluid movement between associated incidents and events in both series that doesn't hammer home continuity markers, which would disrupt the mood or emotion of those associations. In other words, it feels like Mignola is trusting the reader to find their way through the text and experience the richness of it for themselves. And that's one of my favorite features of experiencing any comic, so I couldn't be happier with that development.

The "Hounds of Pluto" has been a very satisfying return to Hellboy in Hell, and narratively it's the most rewarding foray yet into the underworld arc.

Hellboy in Hell #8 is drawn by Mike Mignola and colored by Dave Stewart. It arrives on Wednesday, September 23rd. 

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About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.
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