June 10, 2016

, , , ,   |  

Requiem-- a review of Hellboy in Hell #10


Hellboy in Hell #10
Written and Drawn by Mike Mignola
Colored by Dave Stewart
Lettered by Clem Robins
Published by Dark Horse Comics

Reading Hellboy in Hell has been reading the story of a ghost. For the past nine issues, Hellboy has walked across Hell as if it was a purgatory for his own personal unfinished purposes. After having killed him going around five years ago now, Hellboy in Hell has functioned as a mourning period for creator Mike Mignola and his audience, refusing to give up on the character while finally figuring out it was time to let go. Hellboy in Hell #10 is that letting go, the chance for character, creator and audience find peace in a fictional character’s life that was often overshadowed by an otherworldly fate.


What’s stunning in Hellboy in Hell #10 is just how silent Mignola’s story is. As he spins his tale about giant demons fighting for the fate of Hell, Mignola, and colorist Dave Stewart pull back from the banter and repartee (even though both are present in unique sidebars) and tell Hellboy’s final story through the power of the images. Paring his drawings down to abstract Kirby krackle, shadows, and his minimalistic-yet-evocative designs, words aren’t needed to get to the heart of Mignola's story. As Hellboy confronts big concepts like destiny and fate, it’s important that Mignola doesn’t explain a lot. After 20+ years of story, Mignola shows us the final story without a clear explanation of the meaning of the final actions of the character.  He leaves a lot of the meaning and symbolism of his story up to the reader's own interpretation.

Dave Stewart’s coloring in these final issues is a clear demonstration of why Stewart is one of the best colorists in comics. The flat colors of Hell still manage to develop depth to the artwork as his choices of reds, grays, greens and yellows creates stark contrasts between the layers of MIgnola’s artwork. But the flat colors also don’t create a lot of visual noise. Mignola’s minimalistic drawings combined with Stewart’s stark coloring rely on the history of the characters and the legendary images to create the Sturm und Drang of the narrative.
Hellboy’s story has always been a story about fate. In Hellboy, (and Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman in other Mignolaverse books,) we’ve seen Mignola’s fascination with characters fighting what they believe are their predestined roles in this world. Looking like a huge demon, Hellboy has always fought for life and even here, he’s fighting for the promise of freedom and self-determination for himself and the demons of Hell. In that way, Hellboy in Hell #10 is the ultimate Hellboy story delving into the themes that Mignola has been exploring since 1995. The silence of these final battles adds to the legend of the Hellboy story that Mignola has created.

With this final, modern-aged Hellboy story (there are chances for more 1950s-era stories written and drawn by others,) Mignola answers questions about Hellboy’s nature, his purpose, and his fate that only he knows. Mignola’s guarding of these questions just adds to the mystery of what actually happens to Hellboy in this issue but the ending feels like the ending the character has been searching for and longing after for years. Since the character died and descended into Hell (and let’s not get into all of the implications of that statement,) this series has searched for peace for the character and Mignola and Hellboy seems to finally found it in Hellboy In Hell #10.