In Review: Hellboy in Hell #7

Mignola, Stewart, and Robins prove the devil is in the details, and there are a lot of sensational details in this book. Recommended.

The cover: Hellboy has now become so gaunt that when his iconic trench coat opens his bones and heart are revealed to the reader. This can’t bode well for the hero, who stands in a sand colored mist, with only two golden apples behind him. This stark cover by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart signals that the longstanding hero may finally be coming to the end of the road. Overall grade: A+

The story: “Somewhere in Hell” a clock chimes, rousing Hellboy from his slumber. Standing over him are two men. One hands him a cup of something hot and they tell him to drink it. “It’s all right…we’re doctors.” Before Hellboy realizes what’s going on he blacks out. He’s suddenly in a green mist that a female form says is England. He’s taken aback by what he sees: the new world tree, “sprung up from your blood, your sacrifice. When it’s grown it will be the tree for the new world.” The old tree is dying, “…something worse is coming…A cancer that will eat its heart.” Who this person is packs quite a bit of emotional punch for longtime Hellboy readers, though the reveal will be lost on new ones. Needless to say, her identify has an impact on the title character. After this dramatic moment, Hellboy has a new quest to fulfill in Hell, and he’s going to need help. History is given, a sentence is pronounced, a spell is cast, and someone is about to provide a sizable problem for big red. This series continues to creep into weirder areas than Hellboy’s been in and it’s absolutely riveting reading from Mike Mignola. To go into any more detail would spoil this twisted tale. Suffice to say, he has a mission in this issue that he thinks will help him, but it’s hard not to feel that those claiming to be friends are pushing him closer to his destiny. After all, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: Creator Mike Mignola has Hellboy surrounded by what are now his usual locations: Victorian houses and streets that scream gothic. Being a master of such locations, if Mignola had wanted to spend an issue just having Hellboy walk down a street, I would have been more than happy — things look that good. Outstanding examples of setting can be found on Pages 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, and 17. Hellboy looks great, but as if he’s in constant pain. He’s no longer the big, buff being he was, but he’s become an emaciated has-been, whose ills can be traced to a lack of something necessary, even in Hell. His first panel on 1 reveals this, though he’s more than willing to demonstrate the skills he’s famous for on 18 – 20. As he strikes a match it’s a signal to readers that the hero they know is still within the fragile shell before them. The visual highlight of the book occurs on Pages 2 – 5. I don’t know what technique Mignola is using on these pages, but it is not the typical line art that he usually does. By employing this very different approach to the art, it elevates the content of these pages beyond the previous pages of Hell and into an entirely different realm. They are hauntingly beautiful that will mesmerize readers as much as they mesmerize Hellboy. This continues to be one of the best drawn books on the market. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Hell is full of many dark colors, which only make the contributions of Dave Stewart stand out all the more. The book begins with drab colors to reflect the awakened state of our hero, the greens used on the World Tree pages evoke life and a dreams, which only makes the Hell pages darker and more foreboding. When a character hears news he’s not pleased with, oranges erupt and demonic reds appear. It’s at this point in the book that Hellboy has his more familiar colors return, and with it hope that he can overcome what’s looking for him. The final three pages use colors to bring the hero back to his stature. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene setting, a moan, dialogue, and yells are crafted by Clem Robins. The yells he gives the characters are a perfect match for their intensity and size. There are also sound effects in this issue, but they were placed by Mignola directly onto his artwork. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Mignola, Stewart, and Robins prove the devil is in the details, and there are a lot of sensational details in this book. Recommended. Overall grade: A+

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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