Hellboy: House of the Living Dead (Dark Horse)

Eisner-winning duo Mike Mignola and Richard Corben reunite to create an original Hellboy graphic novel! Wracked with guilt after losing his luchador friend to vampires, Lucha Libre Hellboy has to fight a Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolfman, and vampires to save the life of a young girl.

 

56 pgs. full color; $14.99 hardcover
(W: Mike Mignola, A: Richard Corben)
 
 
In 1956, Hellboy (everyone’s favorite red-skinned paranormal investigator) is sent to Mexico. He disappears for five months, and finally recounts his lost adventures to Abe Sapien nearly thirty years later. As seen in last year’s one-shot Hellboy in Mexico (Or, a Drunken Blur), during those months, Hellboy had met three brothers who were Mexican wrestlers on their own quest to fight evil after receiving a vision from the Virgin Mary. He joins their group, and they are successful for quite some time. In typical Hellboy fashion, of course, he and his comrades like to live it up after slaying evil things. But the partying eventually catches up to them and, in a cautionary tale about not mixing tequila and vampire-slaying, one of the three brothers wanders out into the night and bites the dust. By being bitten. By a vampire. (Ha. Vampire pun.)
 
Hellboy becomes consumed with guilt for failing his friends, and tries to drown his sorrows in booze and lucha libre fighting. He is one of the best, and his talents do not go unnoticed. One day, Hellboy is approached by a strange man who says that if Hellboy does not fight his master’s champion, a young girl will be killed. The man’s master is a mad scientist who has created a Frankenstein’s monster and has a bet going with some demons that his creation can beat Hellboy. Things quickly spiral out of control, and in rapid succession Hellboy has to contend with: the monster, a fire, a collapsing building, a werewolf, vampires, more fire, another collapsing building, and some very pushy ghosts.
 
With anyone else, this barrage of classic-movie monsters would seem like a cheap ploy, but in the hands of Mike Mignola and the world of Hellboy, it is both natural and entertaining. The overall tone of the story is fairly lighthearted (y’know, for fires and attacking reanimated corpses and stuff) until the end, when you realize Mignola has just cleverly wriggled in a very poignant fact about Hellboy’s life, and then you want to crawl into a tequila bottle right alongside him.
 
Richard Corben’s artwork is excellent, and often has the feel of woodblock print. However, I personally found the juxtaposition of the angular monster characters with very rounded, fleshy mortals to be a little visually disconcerting, as though two different artists worked on the same page.
 
In sum, Hellboy: House of the Living Dead is an excellent vignette, a fun-yet-sober peek into one chapter of Hellboy’s life that showcases the eternal struggle this child of Hell has trying to make it living in the human world. | Elizabeth Schweitzer
 
Click here for a preview of Hellboy: House of the Living Dead, courtesy of Dark Horse.

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