After twelve issues spanning the better part of a decade, Hellboy's life on earth came to a apocalyptic end in The Storm and the Fury. While his existence on this plain ended as was foretold, Hellboy's story is far from over. That story continues with the launch of the brand new series Hellboy in Hell. The collected first volume came out this summer and I was happy to stumble upon it at Barnes and Noble while I was looking for a map of Southern New England.
The original Hellboy series ended with such a resounding "bang" that I had a little trepidation upon first opening the volume. The new series has to start at the start and build up the action from scratch. That sort of relaunch can kill all interest in a story. I was glad to find (and I've just finished my third reading) that this is not the case with Hellboy in Hell: The Descent. By now, Mignola's imagined world is so thick that it can sustain our interest even when the action slows almost to a halt. The images, the voice, and the characters are interesting in their own rights. The images of hell are a rich blending of Dante, Milton, and Mignola's own eccentric vision. Page after page of strange imagry emerges from the shadows, pierced by sudden stabs of fiery red, and then recede back into the abyss. Mignola's unique story-telling voice is a pleasure to listen to as it comes out in the various characters that tell the tale. The characters themselves are so rich, particularly Hellboy and Edward Grey, that we can merely revel in the pleasure of learning more about them while the plot builds up steam again.
All in all, while The Descent lacks the flash and epic sweep of the last three Hellboy volumes, it is definitely a work of pop-art in its own right. I can't wait to see where Mignola will go in volume two.