cover image Hellboy: The Midnight Circus

Hellboy: The Midnight Circus

Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo. Dark Horse, $14.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-61655-238-1

It’s 1948, and young Hellboy is sneaking out of the research lab where he’s kept. He comes across the Midnight Circus, a place of fantastic sights and disturbing implications. Fegredo does an excellent job evoking the creepy atmosphere Mignola established for his characters, adding detailed settings and period suits. The circus is illustrated in a more three-dimensional style than the line art of the lab, with fuzzy shading that makes it even weirder than a circus that operates from midnight to dawn would normally be. For kids, there’s not much difference between clowns and demons, spectacle and magic, lions and ghosts, and here, they all blend. The story of Pinocchio, mentioned early in the tale, provides parallels, from an underwater sequence to disturbing hobos who aim to make the kid their own. Through it all, Hellboy, like so many other children, wants to be a grown-up without realizing how much he’d have to give up to get there early. The demonic hints likely mean more to readers of the complete series, but anyone can appreciate the dreamlike images. (Nov.)