The thing I love about comics is that it has cultivated a small crop of artists that aren’t just at the top of their game, they’re at the top of everyone’s game. They don’t usually work on monthly books and often don’t do much more than amazing cover work, but every now and then they’ll put together an issue or two of sequential work and it’s the kind of thing you can pore over, panel by panel, for however long it will take until we get the next one.
Kevin Nowlan, obviously, is one of those artists. His work here alone, from the pencils to the inks to the signature lettering to the evocative coloring, is worth the price of admission, even if he’d just drawn Hellboy standing on a ridge occasionally yelling so we could get some of that sweet Nowlan exclamatory lettering. It’s versatile, lush, and brilliant cartooning.
But naturally, we don’t just get Hellboy standing around. Mignola has written a pretty insane story starting in a typically Hellboy Cthulu’an place and going in much stranger directions (that I’m loath to give away). Hellboy is one of those rare comics that can sustain long form stories with their own intricate mythology and stand alone pieces of varying moods and tones, all while maintaining its signature voice. I don’t know that the Hellboy universe has ever gotten this weird without Junior Hellboys and Pancakes getting involved, and yet the story still feels like a Hellboy comic. It’s a simple, surprisingly poignant story; immaculately told.
It might be over too quickly, but that just gives you more time to start over and really focus on every line of Kevin Nowlan’s fantastic work. Hellboy comics are one of a kind, and this particular one, well, is there a something lower, rarer than one of a kind?