In Review: The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed #5

The Visitor shows that free will makes one human and it's an amazing journey.

The cover: The title character is in chains, but salvation may be at hand because Hellboy is right behind him. Paul Grist and Bill Crabtree close out the covers with the Visitor in bondage, as he was when Hellboy first saw him in Conqueror Worm. Grist makes booth characters look good and the coloring by Crabtree is good, with the alien having a cool blue and Hellboy a rusty red. Overall grade: A

The story: Beginning with the Visitor ruminating over how it’s unusual for him to become reaccustomed to solitude, now that his wife Ruby has passed away, he sits before her grave contemplating his future. He makes a decision, ‘I grow weary. I have had enough of existence. Perhaps the time has come for me to–‘ and that is when his device goes off. The aliens have reestablish contact with him, and they ask for an update on the subject, aka Hellboy. The Visitor states that after observing him for so many decades he realizes that Hellboy is capable of free will and will be able to take his place in the fight against the Ogdru Hem. Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson then have the character make his way to his destiny. He is instructed to go to Hune Castle in Austria and readers of Conqueror Worm know what is going to happen, but not why. Villains Herman von Klempt and his granddaughter Inger are introduced and show the Visitor being interrogated. Pages 12 and 13 neatly show how the Visitor can hear actions, but not see them. His conversation with Hellboy gave me goosebumps, even though I knew the outcome. To say more would spoil the story. This conclusion was fantastic. Overall grade: A+

The art: Four panels bookend this story. The first page has four panels that show the Visitor’s state of mind at the start of this story and the book ends with four different panels with how he thinks of his life. They’re beautiful and command a lot of power. This is impressive, because readers probably know how this series will end. Paul Grist gives this book a tremendous sense of weight. This is due unquestionably to the story, but he interprets it flawlessly with his visuals. How he uses black on the second page shows the turning point for the Visitor, which is followed by a large bust shot of him reaching a decision. Page 4 shows his compatriots in space and it looks amazing, especially the wires that connect his peers to their ship. A summary of what he’s observed of Hellboy is given on 5 and they show key moments of his exploits. Von Klempt’s introduction is great, with him looking monstrous. The bottom of 12 contains an image that is the perfect match for the text and it made my heart soar. 11 is a shocker, with the dialogue in the third panel making the illustration even more terrible. Hellboy is always an eye catching character, but notice how he listens to everything the Visitor says without any sarcasm or disbelief in his face. Given all the things he’s encountered as he battles evil, a wounded man revealing information would not be the most surprising thing he’s seen. The penultimate page was brutal. I thought I was prepared for it, but I wasn’t it. The depth this character has had for this series makes this panel a brutal one. I’m impressed that even looking as the Visitor does, Grist is able to endow him with so much warmth. Fantastic. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The first three pages of the book are primarily in black and white. These colors mirror the Visitor’s usual garb, but also reflects how he sees the world. There is one individual on the first page that is brightly colored and it could symbolize many things, but it definitely can represent the endurance of life. As he reminisces on his past, Bill Crabtree gives the panels a peach tint, to visually tell the reader that they are looking at a flashback. Eerie green returns to this series when he’s contacted, as do the otherworldly violets and oranges. The recounting of Hellboy’s adventures are vividly colored, showing the life that they contained. When the Visitor goes to the castle, the colors are dimmed. Only sounds and blood are colored brightly. Hellboy is naturally colored in reds, and he stands out on every panel he’s in. A fine job by Crabtree. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Narration and transmissions (the same font), dialogue, sounds, and yells are crafted by Clem Robins. I prefer to have narration and transmissions done in different fonts, rather than different dialogue balloons, but that’s a slight ding on Robins’s work on this issue. The dialogue is different from the narration and that’s a faux pas that most letterers make, but he does not. The sounds are big, especially once the story moves to the castle. I liked the distant dialogue that the Visitor could hear on Page 13, which had some funny stress with italicized words. Robins does good work. Overall grade: A- 

The final line: The Visitor shows that free will makes one human and it’s an amazing journey. Action and adventure are here, to be sure, but this leaves a reader hoping they can live as well as this alien did, so far from his friends. Absolutely recommended. Overall grade: A

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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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