I reread the most recent four issues of Hellboy recently and I’ve decided that it’s the prettiest comic I’ve ever seen. The panels and the hand-drawn sound effects and the big blocks of color and dark all come together to make this perfect thing that I’m happy exists.
And it’s a great story, too, with heavily symbolic dialogue and crazy dream logic and some great literary references too. And finally, actual plot progression shifting the focus away from what it’s been for the last 20 years into some pretty jarring new territory.
Plus it has Ed in it. I love Ed.
I would post some of it to share how pretty and nice it is but I don’t want to take anything away from it by sharing it out of context. You should read Hellboy in Hell. But only after you’ve read the rest of Hellboy, because none of the really significant things happening in this comic will mean anything otherwise.
If it’s art by Mignola, it’s probably just because he just loves drawing broken statues and skulls and birds. At least he’s said something along those lines at the panels I’ve seen him in.
But sometimes those birds are actually Women of Thessaly, or witches’ familiars, or a priestess of Hecate, and sometimes the statues are recognizable as actual figures in myth and folklore that are relevant to the story.
To be completely vague and avoid giving any spoilers, there are some random panels in the most recent Hellboy series (#2 or #3?) that show a fountain with the name “Lethe” inscribed on it. Easy to pass over without a second thought, but really important. Lethe is Greek for “forgetfulness,” also the name of a river in the Underworld that causes forgetfulness in those who drink from it… which could explain that one thing that happened.
There are probably a lot more examples I could give, but that’s my favorite. I think Mignola has gotten way more purposeful in his compositions since he’s started drawing the comic again, but there was always meaning to at least some of it before.
(The skulls are pretty much just Mignola being Mignola, though)