Overview

Hellboy: Makoma #1

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Hellboy: Makoma #1

Credits

  • Words: Mike Mignola
  • Art: Mike Mignola and Richard Corben
  • Inks: Mike Mignola and Richard Corben
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Story Title: Hellboy: Makoma (or, A Tale Told by a Mummy in the New York City Explorers? Club on August 16, 1993)
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Feb 1, 2006

In 1993, Hellboy has a strange encounter that seems to reveal a forgotten past in Africa!

Using a familiar plot device from his Hellboy short-story days, Mike Mignola opens this tale at a party in the New York City Explorers’ Club in 1993. Hellboy finds himself drawn to a mummy, recently acquired on an archaeological dig in Africa, and the mummy in turn seems to open lost memories of Africa, and dreams of a hero named Makoma. This hero has a mysterious quest to fill, one that might have connections to Hellboy’s own destiny.

Mike Mignola ventures a little outside of his usual Hellboy territory here. There are no big, titanic battles with Nazis or demonic creatures out to destroy the Earth. In fact, Makoma is a rather straightforward African folktale seasoned with Hellboy’s unique voice as he adopts the identity of Makoma. As folktales go, it bears much in common with ‘quest’ stories from any number of different cultures. The hero travels to find the source of a problem and along the way meets others whom he must best in order to win their assistance later in the tale. The fun comes in hearing Hellboy’s blue-collar sensibilities thrown in to this stylized tale. Being a two-part story, though, the reader can almost expect some sort of twist from Mignola before the end.

Seeing Mignola’s unique art style again is always a joy. No one does Gothic like Mignola and even though in this issue he only handles the first seven pages, it is enough to powerfully set the mood. The rest of the art on this issue is handled by Richard Corben, whose style is perhaps most reminiscent of R. Crumb. Oddly enough it works well for this tale. The African landscapes are particularly attractive and evocative. Dave Stewart on colors aids in this by providing a diversity of color from the gray mountains to the orange deserts, to the lush green jungles.

I had been dismayed to hear that Mike Mignola planned on pulling back from the art duties on Hellboy in order to focus on writing the stories. After seeing Corben’s work here, however, I am a little mollified. In the end, Mignola on words and art is the pinnacle but getting Mignola’s script along with someone else’s wonderful art is a satisfying second. Hellboy is promising to move in new directions and expand to new horizons. If Makoma is anything to go by, then Mike Mignola has only begun to scratch the surface of a whole other world.

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