Hellboy: The Sleeping And The Dead #2
Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Scott Hampton
These short Hellboy miniseries that come out every once in a while can be frustrating for die-hard fans, but they are great introductions to the character for new readers who don’t want to take the time to get caught up on the current Hellboy and BPRD continuity. This week brings us the final chapter of the two-part story The Sleeping and the Dead, which turned out to be a fairly slight Hellboy story but a pretty decent horror tale overall.
This final issue keeps Hellboy mostly in the background fighting a vampiric mummy who constantly spouts nursery rhyme lyrics, while his fellow BPRD operatives are ambushed by the undead outside of the house that they saw Big Red go into. The threat is ultimately neutralized by yet another supernatural force that ties everything up pretty nicely, but I was disappointed that the title character didn’t have much to do in this issue that was central to the plot except to punch a hole through a wall. Regardless, this was a more action-packed Hellboy story than is usually offered, and Scott Hampton’s art beautifully compliments Mike Mignola’s script. While this is not an essential Hellboy story for fans, it’s a decent introduction to new readers who are curious about the character from the movies and want to know what to expect from a standard Hellboy or BPRD book. 3.5 out of 5 Popped Up Heads.
Witchfinder: Lost And Gone Forever #1
Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by John Severin
Also out this week, Mignola teams up with his BPRD partner John Arcudi for this horror-tinged Western tale starring British paranormal investigator Sir Edward Grey. In this issue, Grey shows up in a run-down former mining town in the Old West searching for a compatriot of his, and when he starts to ask questions in the local saloon, he is met with hostility from all of the townfolk. After shooting his way out of trouble, he meets the one man in town who will talk with him. As they get as far away from the town as possible, the man fills Grey in on the town’s dirty little secret, and they are ambushed by a mysterious figure in the ending cliffhanger.
Mignola and Arcudi do a good job setting up the mystery of this macabre tale, but the real star of this issue is legendary illustrater John Severin, who combines an old-school Western comic style with the exaggerated faces and dark shading of a classic EC horror comic. Severin’s art perfectly sets the mood of this story and stresses the stark contrast between the prim and proper Grey and the somewhat savage townspeople. It’s the kind of art that you don’t see too much of nowadays, but it really works for this story, which is recommended to both Western and Horror fans. 4 out of 5 Buffalo Masks.