Page 45 Review by Stephen
A whopping 368-page volume which covers Hellboy's adventures from 1947 to 1961 in chronological order (as do all the HELLBOY omnibus editions) kicking almost immediately off with 'Midnight Circus' drawn and painted with enormous panache by Duncan Fegredo.
"But he wanted to be a real boy."
1948 at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence, it's late at night and quiet.
Scampering secretly through the sleepy, well appointed HQ, a very young Hellboy, his horns still intact, overhears himself being talked of as a terrible threat. It's all there in the Visions & Revelations of one Arnot De Falvy:
"I saw a city, silent as a tomb, barren as dry bones, and the angel said, "This is Desolation". And I went down into it and the only living thing there was the creature
In most ways it had the shape and character of a man and was not terrible to look upon
But then I saw in its right hand it held the key to the bottomless pit."
So young Hellboy does what you would do at this covert equivalent of a boarding school: he runs away. And something is there to greet him, to entreat him, to seduce and reduce the poor boy to tears.
When the Midnight Circus first appears, the impact is halting. Young Hellboy crouches overlooking through a dry-stone wall the valley the circus' gigantic tent has been erected in. He's inked in Fegredo's Mingola-inspired trademark stark shadows, whereas the circus itself is swathed in misty, miasmatic watercolours as will be everything that transpires within. It's mesmerising.
And, oh, what the young boy discovers inside. Whom the young Hellboy discovers inside!
Have you read Pinnochio?
There is so much to commend this, not least of all Duncan Fegredo's swoonaway art. Long have I compared his gesticulations, dramatically angled wrists and hefty, heavy, laden hands to the mighty French sculptor Rodin. That's not something I do lightly. But here it suddenly struck me how similar his women are to that of FATALE's Sean Phillips
You wait until you see the sunken Galleon.
If you've never read HELLBOY before in your life, this is the perfect introduction. It will leave you with questions, yes, but then you have a whole library to explore, all in print and in stock right here, right now.
Mignola has built up a legend which is why this works so well. There has been foreshadowing aplenty and this is another key part of the puzzle.
You're just a young lad. All you want to do is what's best, especially as you grow up. Okay, you shouldn't have had that smoke, you shouldn't have made that joke and maybe you shouldn't have run away. But they are your decisions, surely? They can't affect anyone else.
"Oh, my boy
what have you done?"
Also included: 'The Crooked Man', 'Double Feature of Evil,' the complete 'Hellboy in Mexico' saga, as well as 'The Corpse.' 'The Iron Shoes' and more.