Ever since high school, Hellboy has been one of my favorite comic book characters, but I feel like I've been chasing that Hellboy dragon. The first taste is always the best. And with Hellboy: House of the Living Dead, I think I've recaptured that sense of wonder and excitement I felt the first time I read Wake the Devil.
Hellboy: House of the Living Dead, written by Mike Mignola and beautifully illustrated by Richard Corben, has reignited my flame for Hellboy. Not only is the book gorgeous to look at, it also captures what I love about Hellboy- action, humor, sadness and triumph.
The book is a sequel to a one shot that came out last year- Hellboy in Mexico- which tells the story of the big red guy in the 50's down in Mexico where he helps out some Luchador wrestlers fight vampires. No surprise- I loved that. But to me House of the Living Dead exceeds that one shot.
Hellboy is still down in Mexico after the events of the previous one shot, where he has become a Luchador himself, and tries to drink his problems away each and every day. He attempts to block out the memory of his failure to save his friend from being killed and turned into a vampire. He is approached by a man and told that he must wrestle his employer's wrestler or a girl will die. Hellboy being Hellboy, naturally has to help. Once at the decrepit mansion, he finds out that it is not a normal wrestler he must face, but a Frankenstein-like monster. That's the hook. But there is more that happens- including a showdown with a werewolf, and one of my new favorite Hellboy moments that involves a vampire. The story moves along at a fast pace, but I never felt shorted in any way, even with the book only being 56 pages long.
The art in the book is fantastic, with Richard Corben doing some of his best work in his long career in my opinion. When I first heard he was going to be drawing some Hellboy stories a few years ago, I didn't think it would be a good match, but I was wrong. Corben's style blends with the Hellboy universe while staying original. His lines are organic-looking and expressive. His characters always have an interesting and unmistakable look to them. Paired with Mignola's sparse script the art sings. Mignola lets a lot of the art tell the story, letting the emotion play out on people's faces, rather than in a dialogue box or word balloon.
You don't have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy the book. I certainly am not, but it works here. Hellboy is one of those books that seems capable of weaving in aspects of other genres, while never losing sight of the core of the character or the horror elements that Hellboy is known for.
Hellboy is one of my favorites, and I would recommend anyone with even a passing knowledge of Red to pick this graphic novel up. He's is not a hard character to get into. You can start with almost any story line and pick it up with very little problem. Mignola has managed to keep Hellboy consistent throughout the years, while still giving him a character arc and room to grow. If you enjoy Hellboy, Universal Monsters, Richard Corben, or just like Luchador wrestling, give this a shot.