on April 19, 2004
Hellboy has become a huge success and creator Mike Mignola is busier than ever. So what do you do when the public wants more of your character than you can safely create? You invite other artists to put their own spin on things. This volume is a collection of such stories.
Midnight Cowboy - A young Hellboy gets into trouble at Area 51.
Haunted - Hellboy investigates a supposedly haunted house but finds no trace of ghosts but they find him.
Family Story - Hellboy is doing research and discovers some strange goings on in the family that owns the library.
Hot - Hellboy investigates something that is scaring people out of some Chinese hot springs. The Water Sprite he finds awakens the horn in him.
The Children of the Black Mound - Cold hard reason squares off against ghosts, legends and religion. A tale of a young historical figure.
Big-Top-hell-Boy - Hellboy investigates a cunning array of circus ghosts and find a curious property of his right hand.
Flight Risk - Aces of the jetpack vie for altitude records but some rather large bats may have other ideas.
Hellboy & Co in Downtime - Hellboy has tackled some evil entities in his time. Now he must face his ultimate challenges as he goes up against the office copier and the soda machine
Abe Sapien Star of the BPRD - Hellboy is just a musclebound bulk while Abe Sapien is the one who really brings home the sushi (I mean bacon).
Hey, Hey, Suckers! - Hellboy returns from a gala and can't help boasting and rubbing it in.
Curse of the Haunted Doily - Kate faces her mom's ghost
The Dread Within - Liz vs Possession
Still Born - Hellboy attends a dangerous birth in reality and in his dreams.
Party Pooper - Hellboy's birthday party
This is a fun collection. The stories vary between the silly to the dark and eerie. Art styles also cover most of the spectrum from the beautiful pencils of Hot to the cartoonish Hellboy and Co in Downtime. A must read for any Hellboy fan.
on January 16, 2004
While working for the BPRD, Hellboy and crew see a lot of action. Unfortunately for us, all this glorious information has to take a back seat to the other things pressing Mike Mignola for time. Its an understandable dilemma, mind you, and one that I've patiently worked around, hoping all the while for a few more delicious morsels from the Hellboy table and trying not to complain too much when I don't get much. Still, only having one new story in 2003 come out that left my mouth watering, (in The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings) reminding me of drink without quenching my thirst, wasn't really the greatest feeling.
In order to fill in the gaps and to make us all feel better, Hellboy and the gang have been taken under the wings of mixed group of artists and storytellers, some questionable and some rather talented, allowing other people to work with what Mike started and try to give us that fix we want. And while they aren't Mignola and you can tell it a few times way too much, some do an outstanding job of filling in and dosing up all the Hellboy junkies out there in need of a quick fix.
Now before I continue and rain praise on this parade that could be taken in many different lights, I have to let you in on a little secret. I'm actually a Hellboy junkie, fan of just about anything Mike Mignola touches, and I like following the stream that flows from that magically-tasty trough. I've gone to lengths to follow the BPRD sagas that have been coming out, tracking down one-shots of Abe Sapien before the TPB and finding the little hints Mignola has dropped here and there, so I'm not what you would call "unbiased party." I've followed quite a few forgettable drops in the artistic bucket just to catch three-four pages of a character I can't seem to get enough of, and I'm assuming that most people that would go out and purchase this have to be at least a lower grade of obsessive like myself. For anyone that isn't and is not familiar with the concept of the BPRD, they research the paranormal and they try to remedy those problems. More often than not that results in a little fist-to-face action, and more often than not it also involves some really strange recounts. For anyone unaware of who Hellboy is, there are a few books out there to answer a question that I'm not even going to begin tackling here.
In the Weird Tales installations, there were some rather high notes and quite a few stories. I personally enjoyed seeing a lot of them dedicated to the off-the-beaten-path characters, too, like Liz Sherman and Baba Yaga. While I wouldn't go as far as to say that anything truly meaningful to Hellboy or the BPRD takes place in them, I'd say that they contain a lot of what you'd expect. Sometimes that unfortunately translates into something that I, as a reader knowledgeable in Hellboy, abhor because the writers feel they I have to be reminded of some of the essentials. Other times it also means that we get art that isn't the greatest in the world (and, once or twice, that I wouldn't have let my pet use for diaper duty), and the short stories we find are just that and they aren't really allowed to shuffle things around. A few times, however, everything hits just right, a demon kid breathes a little fire and sets everything ablaze, and I sit thinking that everything therein is just plain creepy. A little Baba Yaga comes to count the fingers of the dead, Hellboy does something interesting or recounts a tale of his youth, and Roger even finds his way into the fray. This happened enough times in the mix, at least once per comic edition to the Graphic Novel, so it made it pay off pretty well and made the other portions and complaints vanish. In fact, it was kind of surprising because I expected a disaster with Mignola off working on the Hellboy movie.
If you really don't know anything about Hellboy and you've picked up on this as something of a primer, I'd advise you to go back and try on Mike Mignola's work so you can get thoroughly acquainted with the idea. In the four main graphic novels, you'll see what's what and how the idea has influenced so many people, understanding what these stories are all about. These are more like tasty little tidbits to tie a person over, given to us by people that enjoy the concept but aren't the Patient Zero of the Hellboy contagion. Its would actually be something akin to a cover in music, only its done with frames instead of melody. Also take note that this isn't the whole collection because there are eight comics in the Weird Tales collection. That means there'll be another graphic novel to come, and some of the stories that'll be in it are really, really superb.
on April 12, 2004
Being something of Hellboy purist (if Mignola didn't write and/or draw it, I usually won't go near it), I was initially dissauded from this series when it was first published as individual issues last year. On the whole, the writers and artists in the first "Weird Tales" trade aquit themselves admirably. Standouts include Eric Powell's "Midnight Cowboy", which nails the look and feel of Mignola's HB. If you liked "Pancakes" (see "Right Hand of Doom"), you're going to love this. Set in Japan, Randy Stradley's "Hot" uses a familiar HB plot device, but more than acquits itself with Seung Kim's exceptional artwork, in black and white no less! John Cassady's "Big-Top Hellboy" is a visual treat from the artist who makes Warren Ellis' "Planetary" one of the best titles being published. (BPRD/Planetary crossover, anyone?) Kudos also for Jason Pearson's Liz Sherman story, "The Dread Within," and Fabian Nicienza's "Children of the Black Mound" (the best HB story in this collection that doesn't feature Hellboy). Keeping this collection from attaining five stars are three tails (sic) that either waste Hellboy (Tom Sniegoski's "Haunted"), or do the character a severe disservice in the interest of cheap laughs (John Arcudi's "Abe Sapien: Star of the BPRD" and Bob Fingerman's execrable "Downtime"). Still, in all, until Mignola picks up his pens again, you won't feel weird reading "Weird Tales."