Overview

Hellboy/Beasts of Burden #1

Review

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Hellboy/Beasts of Burden #1

Credits

  • Words: Evan Dorkin with Mike Mignola
  • Art: Jill Thompson
  • Story Title: Sacrifice
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Oct 27, 2010

Hellboy/Beasts of Burden #1: The Sacrifice, written by Evan Dorkin with Mike Mignola, is one of those rare one-shots that doesn't feel wasted or forced upon either title. It's a triumph that holds weight in both of the worlds in which these characters exist. Having never read Beasts of Burden before, I was quickly able to comprehend the mechanics and archetypes with which creators Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson typically play.

For many readers, Hellboy will be the introductory character of the piece by virtue of the sheer amount of HB material there is on the market. Hellboy has been going strong for over a decade and has two movies under his belt where as Beasts of Burden is a relatively new property. The writers not only recognize this but also use it to their advantage. In a way, they use Hellboy as a device to enter into the Beasts of Burden canon. What makes it a move that’s more wonderful than obvious is the organic way in which Hellboy's journey crosses over the Beasts’ burden (you see what I did there).

After dispatching what appears to be a vampire in Lancaster, PA, Hellboy finds himself drawn to a mysterious mutt. He follows the mangy animal into the woods where he crosses paths with our other heroes. Even though this story begins with HB, for all intents and purposes, it belongs to the BOB. Hellboy is just their sidekick, for the remainder of the story is planted firmly in their world. Having never have read the Beasts of Burden miniseries from last year, I was unaware of the characters and their origins. Dorkin quickly brought us up to speed, using Hellboy as a quick and agreeable gateway for the audience (there really is nothing HB would be shocked to hear or see at this point). What ensues is a fun adventure and entry point into either title. More so than Hellboy, though, this crossover made me want to delve deeper into Beast of Burden, which is a success by any crossover’s standards.

Not to be slighted are Jill Thompson’s absolutely gorgeous pencils. The way she renders Hellboy in his same, familiar jagged edges, but with softer lines is almost poetic. She firmly has a handle on the tone of these types of stories and is invaluable when trying to quantify what makes this issue work. The animals are as expressive as anthropomorphic dogs and cats can be without coming off cartoonish. It’s impressive how she can show such deep fear and emotion on a pug’s face without losing the distinct look of the breed. Her artwork alone is worth the cover price, displaying elegance and true imagination in every layout.

The third act of the book primarily concerns itself with the world of BOB, which gives Hellboy little more than the opportunity to punch a bunch of skeleton golems. A good deal of the reveals and baddies rest in Burden, but Hellboy being there to lay waste wasn’t an uninvited gesture. The creators even devised a way to make Hellboy’s visit to Burden Hill matter in the form of a small plot device which could be brought up in either series, later on down the line.

All in all, this is a fun, one issue adventure that illustrates the aspects of both series. Page for page, this is what a crossover should feel like.

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