A review of the newest Hellboy hardcover!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Devastated over the loss of his luchador comrade to vampires, Hellboy lingers in Mexican bars until he's invited to participate in the ultimate wrestling match with a vicious Frankenstein monster!
Cover Artist:Mike Mignola
The first unfortunate thing about this comic would be its moniker. The name House of the Living Dead, although inspiring fear and suspense in most, calls to mind in others an arcade shooter game and horrific – though not scary – Uwe Boll film of the same. Unfortunately, it has granted the title more infamy than this comic would wish to garner for itself. However, this book is not only far better than that embarrassment of a "movie," but it is a great tribute to Hellboy and too many of the Universal monsters of yesteryear.
It is apparent that the author has a deep love not just of his character, but also for every piece of the plot. There are scenes where Hellboy is actually wrestling luche libre style in Mexico during a five-month stead of which he has no memory. And, at no point, does the writer take any kind of cheap shot at neither the sport nor the masks donned by its participants. There is also a sense of respect when illustrating the various monsters in their respective appearances. They are all done in Hellboy's usual noiresque style, giving each one of them a unique, perhaps even further haunting perspective.
The artwork, although takes getting used to, is quite vivid and subtle. There is a lot happening on every page, however it never feels as though things are clumped together. Everything stands out as its own image, and all of the dialogue boxes are, are made easy enough to see who is speaking to whom. The action beats are fluid and numerous, and at no point do I find myself wondering what is going on in the fight or who I should be cheering for.
Let's go into the story. After Hellboy is seen in an impressive bout with nameless yet otherwise worthy competitors, he is commissioned to rescue a young woman from a captor. Although our hero is able to dispatch a few of his nemeses with ease, he meets his match with a carnival act turn Frankenstein monster who makes mincemeat of Hellboy. However, in a true accurate tribute to Mary Shelley's creature, he turns on his creator at just the right moment when things are at their darkest. Our ending is a truly bittersweet one that is befitting for our red antihero.
Although the lack of Abe Sapien from this piece leaves something to be desired, the story is very well written with its usual array of story-driven characters. Although this one wasn't nearly as religious as previous titles or the film adaptation, it did not diminish the story in any way. This was a well-done tribute to the Wolf man and to the Frankenstein monster of the Universal monsters, to professional wrestling south of the border and of course, to all comics that have real people having bareknuckle and other such brawls with creatures of the living dead. It's a great story with a good mix of suspense, emotional intrigue and comedy, though dark as it may be.
3 stars out of 4.
Review by: Dan Buckley