SPOILER ALERT! THIS IS A SPOILER-FILLED REVIEW WITH MAJOR SPOILERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!Hellboy: The Fury #3
Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Duncan Fregedo and Dave Stewart
Lettering by Clem Robins
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Review by David Pepose
Is this the end for Hellboy?
Doubtful — and that's even when he's dead. But it sure makes for some beautiful fireworks.
If you've been keeping tabs on the Newsarama mothership [Click here for our interview with editor Scott Allie on the big changes], you might know that Hellboy: The Fury #3 marks a milestone for Mike Mignola's creator-owned icon — namely, that our crimson hero is shuffling off this mortal coil, fighting tooth and nail with a dragon, literally holding off Ragnorak at bay. And in that regard, The Fury is not a jumping-on point, but instead a final hymn preaching to the choir, dazzling readers with the visuals more than any deeper characterization.
But you know something? When you have Duncan Fegredo and Dave Stewart drawing your book, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I love the use of shadow and color in this book, and the layouts in particular really flow fast. Fegredo in particular excels with the composition of his figures — this is definitely a fight comic all the way, and seeing Hellboy get tossed around like a doll really helps play up the stakes. Our hero may be a bruiser, but he's not invincible, and there are some moments in this book where you really feel for the big lug, as there are plenty of moments where you think that this is it, this is where his clock is finally going to get punched out.
Of course, when that moment comes, you realize what an instinctual storyteller Mike Mignola really is. He knows what shots to call, even without words, and Hellboy's final moments are just beautifully constructed. It's that moment where the knock-down, drag-out fights — which, while gorgeous, are still a little self-indulgent — becomes something mythic. Sometimes words don't matter, only action — and in that regard, Mignola is a consummate leader for his team.
Is this book perfect, though? Not quite. The drawback for having such a sparse script is that the fighting moves almost too fast, with the slick layouts pushing the reader so far, so fast, that it takes a lot of effort to slow down and digest everything. The other thing that stood out to me is the resonance effect — for those who have been reading Hellboy for years, this is a killer moment, a real watershed. But the thing about death — death in comics, death in storytelling, death in general — is that we feel so strongly about it because we remember what we loved about the deceased. We recall what was so special about them. This issue was the perfect moment to give almost a eulogy to the character… but in that regard, Mignola was a little too subtle for his own good.
With the last page of this book really exciting me, there's still a future for Mike Mignola's franchise — and that's a real relief. Hellboy has long been a standard of quality art and some real integrity for storytelling. Does Hellboy going to the Great Beyond qualify as some sort of "selling out," some sort of weird coming-of-age ritual for superpowered comics these days? Maybe. But this comic looks so spectacular, and sets up so much potential, I can't help but enjoy it.