By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Alex Maleev, and Dave Stewart
This issue comes as close to possible as being a classic Hellboy story as it can, in the best way. Hellboy and the agent who went into the collapsed building to save him, find a tunnel leading into the castle outside the village. Entering the castle they find more mechanized monkeys, cadavers, and Frankensteins. Each character faces off against a Frankenstein monster, then learns the mastermind behind it all is Herman Von Klempt.
The issue is full of irony and action. The irony comes from Hellboy’s reaction to events, he’s put off by the strange monkeys and Von Klempt’s appearance, however in 40+ years this will all seem normal to him. Another source of irony is Von Klempt himself, once again building monsters to a cause that has left him behind (in more ways than one). Irony is but a tool for fate, and Von Klempt is doomed to repeat these plots until the events of Conqueror Worm.
The art this issue is superb, with Maleev stretching the muscles he built up on Marvel’s Daredevil with Brian Micheal Bendis. He also recreates some of the famous scenes from Hellboy’s origin, but without sacrificing his personal flair. Indeed, Maleev was a great artistic choice as it naturally fits in with the first volume of Hellboy’s style. Adding to the sense of continuity is Dave Stewart’s colors, rich when needed and subdued when appropriate.
Overall, this is the penultimate issue of the mini and it ratchets up the tension. It is a satisfying read on its own, but sure to lead to a just as satisfying end.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent.