In Review: Hellboy in Hell #10

The conclusion is here, but it's not explicitly explained.

The cover: Hellboy in his final prophetic incarnation towers over a town in Hell. His face is blacked out, he has wings that spread wider than the civilization below him, and his right fist emits flames. This is a terrible vision for the beloved hero, but is this to be his fate? Mike Mignola has created this frightful image and Dave Stewart does the dramatic coloring. Overall grade: A

The story: Mike Mignola finishes up the most famous character in a very unique way. First, Hellboy never speaks in the entire issue: he’s spoken of, he’s seen, but he’s silent. This allows the reader to form his or her own opinions on how this ultimately closes. The book opens with one of the dead giving a quote from John Donne: “No man is an island…Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in all mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls…It tolls for thee.” The setting then moves through Hell, a demon in dragon form flies through the air but stumbles into a building and collapses with the structure. It calls for it’s grandmother, who appears. He/It relates to the woman that their world has gotten so much more worse. “He has snuffed out the light of the world. Pandemonium is fallen. Satan is dead and now–also, all his princes.” Before their fall, the princes call one last being who can stop Hellboy. It truly is a clash of titans as not one but two entities battle the title character. What’s done on 14 is surprising because it loosens a group in Hell that was once contained, though it was done to end another. Just as it seems as though Hellboy is going to be a different character, since he is in a highly altered state and he’s speaking to no one, he does something familiar on 16 that puts a very interesting spin on this issue’s proceedings. The final five pages are a journey, ending in a familiar place, accompanied by very familiar narration. What occurs will be up for analysis on many webpages where their writers have poured over all of Hellboy’s adventures much more scrupulously than I have. I have followed Hellboy’s adventures and I have a few thoughts on what this ending means for the character, but I don’t want to give you my opinion; you should make up your own mind as to what this conclusion means. It’s up for interpretation, that’s for sure. It doesn’t end with clear cut answers, as I and others wanted, but why should it? This is Hell and no one can explain how it works, even Hellboy couldn’t. I hope Mignola keeps everyone guessing for a long time as to what this all means, or better still, never tells. He ended it how he wanted and only he can control Hellboy. An enigmatic ending for this character, but somehow appropriate. Overall grade: B

The art: Regardless of what one thinks of the story, Mike Mignola’s visuals are unquestionably outstanding. The Gothic imagery is on display on every page, culminating in a battle of gods. The blind demon’s fall (from the grace of serving Satan?) is a powerful introduction to this issue’s narrator, and he’s almost sympathetic as he’s cradled by his grandmother. A grinning skull interjects itself before he starts his tale, creating some gallows humor before his somber story starts. Beelzebub’s castle is a flaming structure due to the demons within it and their powwow is an awesome scene. As the story gives some backstory on whom the demons are calling upon three characters appear to give the reader specific information on this character and his relationship with Satan. Their inclusion was fun to see. When Hellboy fights the two giants it’s like witnessing gods battling. Such a fight would destroy the Earth, but in Hell it merely contributes to the damned surroundings. The design of the humanoid character is outstanding and I’d love to see more of this character elsewhere, though not in person and not if it means the destruction of the world. Page 12 has a great layout with the third panel showing the pensive look on a pair of faces looking to discern who has won the battle. The close up of the fifth panel is awesome. The vengeance on 15 is also terrific because it shows the ending of a reign. The top of 16 is almost sad, like Godzilla stomping off to continue his never ending path of destined destruction. The final panel on the page changes all of that in one dramatic, simple image. The final five pages are a tour of familiar settings that continue to impress. And that final page…That’s for the reader to decide. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Hell is a dark place unless one is within or using its flames. Dave Stewart uses cool, flat violets and grays for those outside the flames, while oranges and reds constitute the combustible elements. Pages 8 – 11 explode in colors that man was not meant to witness. The limited colors used on Hellboy’s dark form are terrific, with only his hand and eye burning bright. The colors return to the flat and muted colors of the opening after the climax, but take a look skyward. Is the sky brightening like a dawn? Does this coloring signify a change in Hell? The blinding yellows of the final page gives those objects immeasurable power. Stewart is an equal contributor to the tone of this book. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Dialogue in the present and dialogue from the past whispered upon the final two pages comprises Clem Robins’s work.  There are a few sounds, but they look to be done by Mignola. The dialogue is clear and employs some words in italics to show stress in the characters’ speech. A fine job. Overall grade: A

The final line: The conclusion is here, but it’s not explicitly explained. It’s enjoyable, but might only please those who’ve been reading this character’s exploits for some time. Let the discussions begin! Overall grade: A-

To learn about other Hellboy adventures go to http://www.darkhorse.com/

To order Hellboy in Hell or other Dark Horse books go to http://www.tfaw.com/

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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