Hell Cows

Hellboy Volume 11: The Bride of Hell and Others, written by Mike Mignola, illustrated by Mignola, Richard Corben, Kevin Nowlan and Scott Hampton (Collected 2011): Mignola continues to alternate between advancing Hellboy’s contemporary adventures (which now pretty much occur entirely in terms of the series’ overall arc about Hellboy’s destiny) and filling in Hellboy’s exploits in the past.

Hellboy’s past on Earth gives Mignola a pretty wide and deep canvas to paint on, as Hellboy operated across the globe for about 50 years as an investigator for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence.

Here, we get a big helping of the past, including a now rare (and always appreciated) appearance by artist Kevin Nowlan in a change-up story involving cattle mutilations and aliens. Richard Corben does visceral work on stories that involve Mexican wrestlers, Egyptian mummies, and an extinct rival for the Templars (in a story Mignola notes was partially inspired by Seabury Quinn’s stories of occult detective Jules de Grandin, who battled ghostly Templars in one story and, in his only novel-length adventure, took on the case of The Devil’s Bride).

Elsewhere, Scott Hampton illustrates a fascinating story about why vampires on Earth-Hellboy aren’t more prevalent, and Mignola himself takes up the pen for a story that first appeared on-line at the USA Today site (!).

Mignola’s interest in myth, popular culture, and genre antecedents that include H.P. Lovecraft and the aforementioned Seabury Quinn again shine through, as does his ability to mix the absurd with the deadly serious. Highly recommended.

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