There are few artists and writers out there who truly understand the things you must do, and the things you don’t have to do when making a comic book narrative. Mike Mignola is one of those few. In Hellboy: The Wild Hunt, he, with help from artist Duncan Fegredo, continues to immerse his readers in a world of subtly shifting folklore with his signature, stunning, minimalistic style and storytelling. It’s a method that has always set an undeniably unique tone, one that is powerfully dark, lushly mythic, and truly haunting.
Mignola is one of my all time favourite comic artists, so it’s always hard to not see his name filling both writer and artist spots on his books. Luckily, Duncan Fegredo is incredibly faithful to Mignola’s original style in The Wild Hunt. So much so in fact, that I feel I can’t commend him enough. It’s a slight sharpening of Mignola’s classic rough edges, and it’s just subtle enough to allow Fegredo’s personal touch to shine through. All while continuing to preserve colours that are both bright and fantastical as well as dingy and morose, static panels which expertly craft that classically occult Hellboy feel, and lines that have always been so simple yet descriptive as to capture the essentiality of myth.
And what a myth it is. This is volume 9 in the well wrought epic that is Hellboy’s story, and it’s satisfying to see threads and tendrils from both the main arc as well as seemingly one-off jaunts into unplumbed cultural lore culminate in what might be one of the most personal Hellboy stories yet. The nitty gritty is that Hellboy now finds himself in Britain just as giants, unseen for many years, have emerged and begun to roam the UK countryside. This spurs on the next “Great Hunt,” and all the while larger and altogether more insidious threats grow. Some have likely always found the Hellboy narrative style to be simplistic. For me, this has always been the appeal: Hellboy takes a character who has no respect for the clichés of legends and chosen ones, destinies and tall tales, and puts a quandary of good and evil at his core, embroiling him in a story that breathes life and richness into those all too common narrative structures. There are prophecies and witches, King Arthur and giants, bloodlines and hellish blades. Not only that, but with a few terse lines of dialogue, and some truthful body language between Hellboy and his companion Alice, it is made a tale full of struggle for the titular hero, one that fills all the dark corridors and strange halls that drift throughout this lovely volume with a brooding and well earned emotional heft.
In short, Hellboy: The Wild Hunt manages to do what all truly great Hellboy books manage to do, despite having a guest artist in tow. They’re volumes that give you a feeling similar to exploring an ancient and abandoned home, or a decrepit ruin. It is one of those works that, due to nothing less than the sum of its parts, creates an atmosphere that is magical in a very essential way. They’re stories that are truly occult and truly mysterious, that make you wonder at what secrets lay forgotten in the nooks and crannies of the world. I sincerely hope that this, and all the rest of Mignola’s work, never fades completely into those regions it so lovingly unveils.
Mignola, Mike, writer. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt. Art by Duncan Fegredo. Dark Horse Comics, 2010. Print.