Saturday, November 3, 2012

Comic Review: Hellboy Vol. 3 The Chained Coffin and Other Stories

I just don't know how to feel about Hellboy.  On the one hand, I really enjoy the art, and to a certain extent, I enjoy the stories, which delve into the myths and folklore of various cultures from around the world.  On the other hand though, is the fact that I've started to notice a trend.  That trend is this: Hellboy investigates some sort of creepy castle, or ancient ruin, then gets in a big ol' punch up with some sort of giant beast. Cue up the next story, and it is pretty much the same thing all over again.

I've said in the past that I love me some monsters and beasts, and that is true. I love 'em.  And yes, Hellboy delivers a shit ton of great monsters and beasts...what it all boils down to I guess to too much of a good thing.

The Chained Coffin and Other Stories follows the trend I mention above, except this time that trend is magnified since this is a collection of Hellboy short comics.  The thing is, while that trend might be magnified here, everything else that is so awesome about Hellboy is also magnified, so it all sorta comes out as a wash.

I think my favorite thing about this third volume of Hellboy is that Mignola draws much of his inspiration for the comics in this collection from a variety of folklore from around the world.  He essentially takes a bunch of really cool and obscure folklore that he dug up, and adapted it for the world he has created.  The results are a lot of fun to read.  The connections to myth and folklore are initially what drew me to the Hellboy series in the first place, so I really enjoyed getting a heavy dose of the stuff all packed into this volume.

As always, Mike Mignola's art is really impressive.  There's something to be said for the writer/artist which is a rare beast in comics, and it is even more rare to find one who can deliver truly great art, and Mignola certainly does that.  His art is some of the moodiest stuff I've ever laid eyes on.  I'm deeply impressed with his ability to set the mood and tone of his stories with his art.  It's an awesome skill to have at his disposal as an artist.

It's not so often that a comic artist's work breaks into the mainstream pop culture conscience, but I feel like Mignola has managed to do just that.  Hellboy has a look and feel that even the non-comic reading layperson recognizes.  Not that pop culture notoriety is something really special, but it is a testament to the fact that Mignola's art is unique and attention grabbing.

All told, I think the sheer volume of stories, especially ones steeped in folklore, makes this my favorite Hellboy volume yet.  I can't say that I'm totally enamored of this series; To be honest, I'm reading the Hellboy stuff more out of a desire to lay down the groundwork so that I can move on to the B.P.R.D. series, which I feel like holds more of an attraction to me.  Still, Hellboy isn't totally unenjoyable, it just doesn't completely float my boat.  Perhaps, as I delve deeper into the series, I'll come to like it more.  For now, I'll just pass on the word that The Chained Coffin and Other Stories is the best stuff I've read so far in this series.

Grade: B


Kathryn said...

If you really want a good Hellboy thing, then I know what you need.

Hellboy volumes 8, 9 and 12. They form a trilogy with Duncan Fegredo on art duties, and easily form the best Hellboy story (plus they lead into the upcoming Hellboy in Hell).

You do need to read at least Conqueror Worm beforehand, but trust me, it's worth it.

Ryan said...

Thanks Kathryn, I'm definitely not enjoying Hellboy as much as I had hoped I would, but I still enjoy it. I expect to enjoy BPRD even more, as it seems like a book geared more towards my tastes.