Mike Mignola and "Hellboy" aren't unfamiliar with the idea of a cliffhanger ending to a mini-series. Long-time "Hellboy" fans probably remember the nasty conclusion to "Hellboy: The Third Wish" and the three year wait for its resolution in "Hellboy: The Island." So as revealed to Comic Book Resources last week, "Hellboy: The Fury" ends with a rather huge change in Hellboy's status quo. To put it mildly. (And which will inevitably be discussed below.)
But of course, getting there is half the fun. As the final apocalyptic battle between Hellboy and the dragon Nimue rages through England, it's clear that both Mignola and artist Duncan Fegredo aren't holding back. This is, after all, ragnarok. There are going to be casualties and destruction left, right, and center. Mignola matches his plot with a doom-laden narration, explaining the destruction of the world and how everything will inevitably burn.
It's more than just a big fight, though. The appearance of the little girl Vasilisa (previously in "Hellboy: Darkness Calls") is sad and creepy, and the conclusion of the fight to between Hellboy and Nimue has a particularly nasty one-two punch lying in wait. After all, not everyone is playing by the same rules, and seeing how that plays out is an extra little kick in the face. And as for poor Alice? She's a character I honestly didn't think would have survived all the way to "Hellboy: The Fury" #3, so seeing her move through this issue was a particularly tense story, since death is so often lurking around the corner for a "Hellboy" supporting cast character.
This is Fegredo's final issue as artist for "Hellboy," and he brings it to a close with great style. Everything looks amazing here: the monsters raging across the landscape, the scales and serpentine form of the dragon, and Vasilia's tear-marked face as she hands Hellboy the weapon of destruction needed to end ragnarok once and for all. But as great as all that is (and it looks amazing), it's the ghostly form of Nimue at the end that truly knocked my socks off. Fegredo (and colorist Dave Stewart) do wonders with negative space here, and she looks so amazingly creepy as she performs one final act of evil that it gives that climactic scene the visual punch to make sure you remember it for a long time to come.
Long-time readers will especially appreciate the little touches in "Hellboy: The Fury" #3. They'll catch how it ties into other stories, like the nastiness in the "B.P.R.D." comics (suddenly we get to see exactly how the two timelines intersect), as well as lots of old faces making additional appearances. And of course, so much of this story has been foreshadowed for well over a decade now. The death of Hellboy really shouldn't be much of a surprise, even though it's going to catch a lot of readers unaware. (I do feel a tiny bit bad for anyone who's never read the last dozen or so issues that jump in here just to see that big endgame, because I think a lot of the impact will be lost.)
What's for the future? Well, knowing Mignola, anything. He's stated this isn't the end of Hellboy, both the character and the comic, even though he's now dead. But considering the manner of his death, and the jaw-dropping visuals on what happens next, the possibilities are endless. I, for one, can't wait to see the next iteration of "Hellboy" (drawn by Mignola again, no less) and see just what sort of life-after-death awaits our hero. Until then, though? I think it's time to sit down and re-read all of my "Hellboy" collections. Because even if we never got another "Hellboy" comic, I'd be satisfied with this as the end of the story. Well done, Mignola and Fegredo. "Hellboy: The Fury" has been worth every penny and a lot more to boot.