‘Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories Volume 1’ - Advance Trade Paperback Review

Something inspired me recently to take a journey into the world of Hellboy. It was sheer coincidence that new collections made their way down the pipeline for me to review. After reading Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories, I can say that I had no idea there were so many great Hellboy stories. This collection is chock full of them and contains some of my favorites to date.

This collection of stories (and presumably a Volume 2) takes us on Hellboy’s journeys prior to Seed of Destruction. We begin with Hellboy as a curious child which really grounds the emotional reality of the character and pays off throughout the book. In one of the more prominent stories and one of my personal favorites, a strong parallel is drawn between the child Hellboy and the story of Pinocchio. It’s powerful, enjoyable storytelling and really fills in the blanks of what drives Hellboy at his core, directing us to what the final conflict will be about. Will Hellboy choose to be human or devil? Does he even have the choice? It’s a reoccurring question that’s brought up throughout Hellboy’s life.

We follow Hellboy to Mexico for a series of story arcs where no matter how hard he tries, he can’t shake that human side of himself. He goes out of his way for everyone, even if he finds them annoying. Everything he faces feels like a test, and the fact that he enters every heightened circumstance with an unrelenting "What have I gotten myself into this time” attitude makes us love him even more.

He feels like The Man with No Name has been dropped into a Ray Bradbury collection of stories. I can imagine Clint Eastwood reacting to a Martian in the same way Hellboy reacts to a raccoon crawling into the skin of a woman.

There’s so much care put into even the smallest of stories, and it pays off in spades. Even when Mignola steps down as artist, others pop up and fill the void masterfully. Richard Corbin’s artistic duties are nothing short of incredibly engaging and haunting. Mignola and Corben’s collaboration here even won them an Eisner.

Together, they all create this weird, wonderful world in which the undead get just as many laughs as the big, red guy himself. Everyone brings their A-games to the world of Hellboy. Take some time and enjoy.

Creative Team: Mike Mignola (stories and art), Duncan Fegredo, Richard Corben, Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá, (artists), Dave Stewart, Matt Hollingsworth, James Sinclair (colors), Clem Robbins, Pat Brosseau,  (letters), Scott Allie, Katii O’Brien (editor)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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