Throughout Hellboy’s almost thirty years of publication, fans have seen many versions of “Big Red”. We have witnessed his “birth”, his teen years, his “angry young man” stage, his middle- aged and crazy phase, and even Hellboy’s “life after death”.
Through all of these iterations, we’ve haven’t had a long look at Hellboy as a “Hell-boy”… until now. Dark Horse Comics latest Hellboy series Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land (written by creator Mike Mignola and Tom Sniegoski with art by Craig Rousseau) explores the relationship between Professor Bruttenholm and his quasi-son via a roller coaster ride of action, monsters, and mystery.
The action starts almost immediately in issue one with a plane ride gone wrong and an unexpected “landing” near a mysterious, fog-covered island. The interaction between Bruttenholm and Hellboy are touching, and at the same time subtle, since there is virtually no time for the pair to get better acquainted in the face of the constant, varied threats they face. The breakneck pacing of the first issue sweeps the reader along through a number of different set pieces and you can almost feel the whoosh of air in your face, but it never feels rushed or forced; it instead feels like pure escapist fun. Mignola and Sniegoski’s scripting captures the protective nature of Bruttenholm and the most wide-eyed, innocent Hellboy we have ever seen, supporting, but never getting in the way of the action.
Craig Rousseau’s art style is perfect for Young Hellboy. Based on his previous work on DC’s Impulse and even Disney’s Kim Possible, Rousseau’s expressive faces and the fluidity of movement helps drive the action and excitement. The artist also does this through his use of large panels on each page (3-5 panels in most cases) primarily filled with close-ups of Hellboy, Bruttenholm, and a variety of creatures, which add to the story’s sense of adventure and the reader’s investment in the characters and their plight. These large panels also allows Dave Stewart’s colors to pop out even more than usual, especially when the red face of Hellboy fills the majority of the page.
Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land is a love note to Mignola’s characters and the pulp storytelling that initially inspired the original Hellboy tales. It is the type of comic that flies by as you read it, and leaves you wanting more (something we could all use more of right now).
Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #1 will be available on February 17 at finer comic book shops everywhere.