It's John Snow's final week as Review Group Tyrant and he selected Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil by Mike Mignola, Richard Corben and Dave Stewart!
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.
No Tyrant can be Tyrant forever and alas Outhouse readers, this was my final week as the Review Group Tyrant. As a final parting gift, I selected Mike Mignola and Richard Corben's latest Hellboy one-shot, Double Feature of Evil as this week's book.. After all, nothing says you care like good freaking comics, am I right?
Review by Stephen Day
First off anything even remotely Cthulhu influenced that is drawn by Richard Corben is already a good thing.
The first story is, I think, the better of the two, there was an overall creepy feeling to it that I really enjoyed. The way that Sullivan got his just deserts was poetic justice at its finest. However, I also had a sense reading it that it wasn't anything that I hadn't read before and that hurt it quite a bit.
The second story was also enjoyable, but was perhaps to short for me to really get into strongly. Like the first story I enjoyed the poetic justice that was Donald's fate.
Overall, this issue was good, but not great. There are lots of things that I enjoyed about it though.
6 out of 10
Review by starlord
With two trades and a few one shots under my belt I think I can safely say that I can't find a reason to get invested in this character. Sapien yes... Hellboy not so much. I think every story I've read has been enjoyable and I've yet NOT to like anything Hellboy. But at the same time if I was told I could never read another Hellboy story, I don't think I would be that upset either.
This one shot didn't change my opinion on that either. I really liked the first story a great deal. Perfectly paced and well executed. I would even say that I actually had a favorite line: "There you go." It was a great way to end a nicely told tale. The second story fell way flat for me. It felt like three or four throw away pages just to kill off the issue. Probably the least enjoyable Hellboy story I've read to date.
If you like Hellboy there is no reason not to like this, though for the money you reall are getting cheated on pages since the second story is very disappointing. Still I didn't come out of it feeling any different about the title character.
My Score: 8
Review by David Bird
Sullivan ruined his life with alcohol. He lost everything. Then one day, sitting in a drunken stupor, a strange man approached him. He offered him a gift: a small amount of cash and house in Kansas. From the moment Sullivan accepted the gift, his cravings for alcohol disappeared. The house was old. The body he found inside... not quite so old. Sullivan buried it in the backyard and magically three gold coins appeared. That night he had strange dreams. In the morning his cravings had re-appeared, but he knew what to do. He lured an old woman into the house and shut her in the same room in which he'd found the body. He got three more coins and he buried her in the yard. He called the Bureau and they sent Hellboy. This is the first, and longer, of the two stories in our Double Feature of Evil, a comic very much modeled after the sort of B-movies and Warren comics I enjoyed in the 70s.
Another memory of my 70s childhood was reading Richard Corben in Heavy Metal magazine. I hadn't come across him too often between and Makoma, his first Hellboy story, and I'll be honest and admit that it wasn't until he nailed Asmodeus in The Bride of Hell that I really began to get excited about their collaborations. In my write up of the first B.P.R.D. trade I mentioned how the stories were inked to match Mignola's work. This is something you see in the more recent Hellboy comics as well. Its not something you'll see with Corben. He comes to the character with his own well established style. One famous for its larger-than-life, well muscled heroes and its monsters, making him both a distinctive voice and a good fit.
I enjoyed the two stories very much (the second involves a man who draws of ancient magics to get his revenge, but doesn't take the time to really learn all he should), but having read some online discussion of it, I suspect a part of my enjoyment may stem from being able to draw on, as a reader, the same pop cultural wellsprings I think Mignola did as a writer. These are good stories. Fun stories. Greed, lust, and anger are met with well deserved, but surprising endings. People get what they deserve--eventually--and isn't that what we all want?
I hate scoring or grading or whatever. I think someone should just read the review and know how good you think it is, but... if I gotta, I gotta: 8.5. Not the greatest Hellboy story ever, but still a great Hellboy story.
Review by BlueStreak
Comics like Double Feature of Evil show why the one-shot isn't entirely dead in comicdom. Mike Mignola shows it's possible to write a simple story with no reprecussions that's fun and enjoyable. While I generally read the Hellboy in trades, issues like this make me wonder if there's any other hidden gems that I'm missing. My only complaint is that the art isn't Mignola's as well. Although Corben does an admirable job with art, no artist can really live up to Mignola's interpretation of the characters.
Review by John Snow
Seeing as this was my pick, it should be pretty obvious that I love Hellboy. I tend to have lots of favorite comics, but Hellboy and B.P.R.D. in conjunction would have to be my favorite favorite. While the big sweeping epics filled with building continuity are amazing, it's nice to get one of these stand alone one shots once or twice a year just as a reminder that underneath all that destiny stuff is a damn fun character.
This being a double feature, both of these stories taking place in 1960 is just about the perfect setting and Hellboy investigating old B.P.R.D. cases always makes for fun comic booking. While in the first story we get a more complete telling from introduction to completion, in the second there's a bit more of a sense of being in progress. Both are equally quirky and fun be it a house buying souls by the coin or an Egyptian alligator deity taking offense to prayers made to a rival.
Every time I read a Hellboy comic with Richard Corben art I'm amazed at how he maintains his very specific and unique style but still blends it with the look Mignola established when he was the primary artist. When combined with Dave Stewart's always brilliant colors, it produces a delightfully weird result that is unlike anything else in comics.
As far as finding some little nitpick or gripe with this goes, I got nothing. It was a charming little comic that entertained me. That's the whole reason for reading these things, right?
Review by Zero
Hellboy typically comes in two flavours. Big ol' epics with punching and shorter, more idiosyncratic stories. They usually feature punching, and we get two of them here.
I'd love to get a peek at Mike Mignola's library as I'm sure it's full of books which themselves are filled with wonderful little stories which themselves are filled with wonderfully odd situations which themselves are filled with delightfully creepy characters like Sullivan. The addition of Hellboy to these stories adds a layer of humour to the proceedings and his weary attitude towards the supernatural is a nice contrast to the mayhem around him, especially in the second story. Both stories have nice little ideas, but only the first off them really lingers afterward, the second feeling rather too familiar to really stand out.
Richard Corben is a great artist, and while I still miss Mignola's own stylish and shadowy art the rounder look provided here works well to see the slightly sleazy vibe the two 'villains' here need. The first story in particular gets credit for both the creepiness and the humour required for the coins and the dusty, sepia toned feel of both stories sell the time period we're playing in well.
One great Hellboy story and one perfectly serviceable one is as much as anyone can ask from a comic these days. There's nothing quite like these comics and I'm always grateful for the chance to read shorter stories like these.
Review by Victorious Squid
After the wordless intro simulating the camera panning into the old movie theater I was sold already, because I'm a big Hellboy fan but I'm an even bigger Richard Corben fan and seeing his take on Hellboy again is an automatic win right there.
The movie theater of the dead double-feature frames two "Tales From the Crypt"-type stories that feel like something straight out of the past, from EC Comics' early days, also informed by Corben's style.
This one-shot follows closely on the heels of the Hellboy/Beasts of Burden one-shot that was a solid ten for me. Only the fact that the second story felt a little slight to me, as though Hellboy were more a spectator in his own story, prevents me from giving this book a perfect score as well. It's a minor qualm though, so:
Review by Greg
A TON of fun is what this one-shot was. To begin, I am a Hellboy fan, from the movies to the animated series and the comics, although I'm not too well versed on the universe of the character in the funny books. I have two trades and a few issues here and there. I know the essentials of the character and I feel whatever story I read of the universe always leaves me pleased and satisfied. The last one-shot I recall was the issue with the Mexican wrestlers teaming up with our hero to battle some demons. Good fun.
This issue once again was no different. Mike Mignola continues to breathe life and horrific enjoyment into the mythos of his character as he scripts a double feature piece, two short Hellboy stories where he encounters two different types of evil. The first being a haunted house that pays it's "resident" coins every time he leaves a poor victim for the house to snake on. The second story being a gift shop employee at a museum who gains the powers to summon assistance of Egyptian Gods and control mummies. These stories are big epic stories with deep meanings. While there are other Hellboy tales of that ilk, this one-shot was a way to just entertain you and make you laugh. The ending of both stories got a good chuckle out of me and you can sense the enjoyment Mignola has for this character all these years.
Richard Corben's art just works perfect with these two stories. I'm one of the majority of Hellboy fans who wish Mignola continued on art for his character. No one can beat Mignola when it comes to his Hellboyverse, but he always finds the perfect artists that still captures his spirit on each new story. The art, like typical Corben fashion, is grainy but filled with fluidity. It reminds me a lot of the old school horror movies where the film stock was filled with grain and added to overall texture and mood of the film. This book captures that perfectly. And let's not leave out Dave Stewart on colors, both muted and dull yet seemingly sharp and direct at the same time.
And speaking of films, starting and ending each stories with a group of corpses sitting down in an old, deserted movie theater and watching the Hellboy adventures introduced us to just what to expect and it left a wonderful smile on my face and a good chuckle at the end when the corpses clapped at the end of the book. Bravo indeed, Hellboy crew. Another winner in your hands.
Also, geekgasm at the poster of Val Lewton's Cat People!!!!
That gives Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil a group score of 8.56. As always with Hellboy, excellent stuff!
And with that, my duties as Tyrant are complete! 90 weeks, 65 Review Groupers, 1,208 reviews. Wowzers, what a wacky ride! Thanks to all the Review Groupers who were kind enough to let me take their reviews and plaster 'em up here on the Outhouse's front page. Thanks to everyone who read them, even the smart ones who skipped my lame bits at the beginning and end.
For what McKegan calls "all the geeky, bitchy arguing about comics you'd expect from a comic message board condensed into absolute awesomeness", check out our Hellboy thread and post your own review in The News Stand forum.
Be sure to come back next week for the start of the BlueStreak era!
thefourthman has the pick and in the most epic poll battle in Outhouse history filled with ignorance (what up Punchy?!), lies, backstabbing, bribes, and secret plots, Batwoman #0 won out after a rush of manufactured support and will be our selection for November 24th. Look for next week's turkey basted Review Group thread in The News Stand forum on Wednesday morning to join in on the fun and post your own review!
Written by J.H. WILLIAMS III & W. HADEN BLACKMAN
Art by J.H. WILLIAMS III and AMY REEDER with RICHARD FRIEND
"I suspect that Batwoman is socialite Kate Kane. I intend to prove it beyond a shadow. I need to know if she can be trusted, what her motivations are. I'm going undercover." – Batman: Mission Log Entry 2756
Featuring a unique story composition that combines the art of Eisner Award-winner J.H. Williams III (DETECTIVE COMICS, PROMETHEA) and Amy Reeder (MADAME XANADU), this special #0 issue acts as a new introduction into the life of Batwoman! Things pick up roughly where the BATWOMAN: ELEGY HC left off, and this issue acts as a primer for the upcoming new series featuring multiple award-winning creators!
Batman | 32pg. | Color | $2.99 US
Written or Contributed by: John Snow