Hellboy: The Bride of Hell


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Hellboy: The Bride of Hell


  • Words: Mike Mignola
  • Art: Richard Corben
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Dec 23, 2009

A missing girl brings Hellboy face to face with a king of demons and a mystery dating back to the crusades begins to unravel.

I have said before and will say again, it is a marvelous time to be a comic reader.  The diversity of genre is almost as rich as any other point in the history of the medium.  With the onset of webcomics and the proliferation of the bound collection, the ideas behind how to get comics into the hands of those not reading them are also becoming more and more creative.  DC had the "After Watchmen" program, the dollar Vertigo #1s, or promotional rings.  Marvel puts out free Sagas, has mastered the event tie-in, and is swiftly grasping onto the marketing opportunities provided by hit Hollywood features. 

Not to be left in the lurch, Dark Horse debuted it’s "Quick Shots" program back in October.  Starting with Star Wars: Invasion #0, the publisher set out to print nine one-shots of some of its most popular (and a couple of newer) titles.  The idea was to give readers a chance to check out some great books that they may not have already been reading and the clever “Suffering from crossover fatigue?” dig at the top of the ads was meant to catch the attention of those DC and Marvel fanboys tired of reading every title to satiate their hobby.

Hellboy: The Bride of Hell is the penultimate of these special comics.  Conan will finish the program in early 2010.  Some books, like Sugar Shock, had no choice but to be accessible; there are no other comics for them to work from.  Books like The Goon #33 are less successful at being great introductions for newcomers, but are satisfying as stand-alone stories.

Hellboy: The Bride of Hell is the best of both worlds.  No prior knowledge of the series is required to get the story, while it tells one complete story for those acclimated or new to it or in between.  I am reading Hellboy in those giant Library Editions.  I felt like nothing was spoiled here, while the mythology that Mignola is building felt expanded and expounded upon.  In fact, this issue was as revelatory as most mini-series from any publisher.

The story is simple enough.  An American businessman’s daughter has gone missing in France.  The French have botched the investigation and for reasons left unexplained, the BPRD is on the case.  Hellboy saves the girl from a cult summoning demons and he heads into the forest as he is chased by a big beastie.  When he reaches the ruins of a church, revelations of the world that has captivated comics readers are explained. 

It turns out that the situation Hellboy has entered has its roots in the Crusades and its origin can be found in King Solomon’s time.  Demons, Templars and the Inquisition enter the picture quickly and in great detail.  All the while there are courtesans, flying demon kings, and headless soldiers.  It is a big bubbling cauldron of ancient cults brought together into one exciting package.  Mignola steps up his game considerably with this one shot and the temptation to break from my giant collections is feverish.

Corben’s art, as always, is a joy to look at.  Our big red hero is as if Mignola, himself, were drawing him.  The rest though... Corben uses his trademark shading and fabulous line work to create a living breathing world.  This is a master at work and with the expert coloring of Stewart, the art pops whether in the dark of the woods or the bright courts of biblical kingdoms.

Whether you are new to or a long time fan of Mignola’s signature creation, this is an impressive book.  Thick with imagination and sinfully rich in detail, he shows that he has a story with legs that aren’t going to be giving out anytime soon.

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