So I finally got around to catching up with some of the recent Hellboy-verse publications (already added to the Hellboy Chronology). And as this week’ s other reading will be dealt with in later posts, here they are, in chronological order.
WITCHFINDER: City of the Dead (cover by Julian Totino Tedesco, all rights remain with current holder) by Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson and Ben Stenbeck has Sir Edward Grey investigating a sinister underground ruin only to discover the vampire Giurescu (the villain of Hellboy’s second outing, Wake the Devil) has spent decades laying the groundwork for an all-out assault on England. A good, solid horror outing in a mythos that doesn’t do a lot with vampires.
RISE OF THE BLACK FLAME by the same writers and artist Christopher Mitten is set in 1929, at the birth of the villain who in various incarnations plays a major role throughout the series (battling Lobster Johnson, the Hammer and the BPRD). Overall this was a lot weaker, but I do like Sarah Jewell, an occultist who worked alongside Grey in her younger years — she’s interesting enough I hope we see her again. That aside, this does at least give a clearer picture of what the Black Flame is.
BPRD HELL ON EARTH: Comes the Hour (Mignola and John Arcudi, art by Laurence Campbell) confused the heck out of me when I read it — Mignola had announced this as the last chapter of Hell on Earth but I’d mistakenly gotten the idea it was the big finish of the entire mythos, so I was bemused when the world didn’t end (as we’re repeatedly told it must) or the evil get permanently beaten. Still it’s a spectacular finish as Johann, Liz and Nachayko have a final throwdown with the various monsters, though I’m unclear what it means for the next cycle (the horrors apparently aren’t gone, just inert). And Panya, the reanimated mummy was a character I’d always expected to pay off in some big way (I suspect I just saw her very differently from Mignola). Not as satisfying as the previous arc’s finish, The King of Fear, but still a good read.