First off, I feel the need to point out that when it comes to finding artists other than Mike Mignola to draw "Hellboy," he and editor Scott Allie have done a fantastic job. Duncan Fegredo's art in "Hellboy: Darkness Calling" is beautiful and eerie, and Richard Corben's unique style worked perfectly in "Hellboy: Makoma" and "Hellboy: The Crooked Man." That said? I am tickled pink that Mignola was able to find time in his schedule to draw "Hellboy: In the Chapel of Moloch" and I bet I'm not the only fan who feels this way.
There's something about Mignola's rugged, blocky art style that just fits the kind of stories you find in "Hellboy." I think that's in part because of its versatility; from the opening half-page panel of Hellboy looking over the rooftops of Tavira and being able to appreciate how beautiful Mignola has drawn a Portuguese town, to being able to evoke fear and creepiness in a tiny panel of a single candle lighting itself with an eerie green flame. Mignola has, with each panel and page, an exact idea of what he wants to make the reader feel. It's very much to his credit that it's able to come across on the page so effortlessly.
Part of that praise certainly goes to Mignola's working relationship with colorist Dave Stewart, whose choice of colors adds well to the mood. From the pale green of the candles bursting into flame, to the deep red of the blood seeping out of the statue against its gray clay background, Stewart always seems to know just how to make a color pop out at the reader while never coming across as garish or unsightly. It's easy to see why Stewart has colored so many "Hellboy" comics over the years; he and Mignola work together so well that he's become an integral part of any Mignola art these days.
As for the story itself, it's slight but fun, and just what you'd expect from a "Hellboy" story. The sound effect "boom!" is used a lot, Hellboy gets to punch and shoot demons, and inevitably things go horrifically wrong for Hellboy before they even begin to get better. Mignola's shorter pieces like this often lack the same emotional core and punch that his long-form stories hold, but they're still enjoyable and the sort of story that will just pop a grin onto the reader's face. And, for what's a small story, Mignola is able to still slip in some nice character bits; I really appreciated the artist Jerry's reactions to the rise and fall of Moloch's minions, coming across less stereotypical and more about the fear of an artist who fears stagnation.
"Hellboy: In the Chapel of Moloch" is a fun little trip into the world of "Hellboy." If you've never read any of Mignola's comics before now, it's a great way to give it a try. (Especially with the new Mignola and Fegredo eight-part epic, "Hellboy: The Wild Hunt," hitting stores in December.) If you're already a "Hellboy" fan? Well, you're in for another treat. But I bet you already knew that, didn't you?