cover image Hellboy in Hell, Vol. 1: The Descent

Hellboy in Hell, Vol. 1: The Descent

Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart. Dark Horse, $17.99 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-61655-444-6

Creator Mignola’s return to the adventures of “The World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator” celebrates Hellboy’s 20th anniversary by killing him off and sending him back from whence he came: Hell. A cryptic ally from Hellboy’s past plays Virgil to his Dante, guiding him deeper into the abyss, where he is pitted against his old enemies, the devil princes of the inferno, and his own (unwanted) destiny: to rule the Underworld. Mignola confirms his stature as an expert in both comic art and page design. Demons and the tormented denizens of Hades, from monstrous giant serpents to nightmarish skeletal fish, are rendered in angular lines and deep, inky shadows, the negative black space skillfully prodding the eye from panel to panel. Despite the grotesquery of his characters, they look believable in their horrific settings, and Mignola’s simple but elegant panel design should be studied by everyone who is or who wants to be a cartoonist. The script is a delight, too, as Hellboy’s down-to-earth anger and everyman astonishment remains funny and refreshing. A grand Gothic opera of an adventure, this is a rollicking kickoff to Hellboy’s third decade. (June)