Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hellboy - Masks & Monsters - Mike Mignola, James Robinson, Scott Benefiel, Jasen Rodriguez

Hellboy joins forces with Batman and Starman in an adventure that takes them from the rooftops of Gotham to the steamy jungles of the Amazon, to rescue the first Starman, Ted Knight, from a secret Nazi organization that plans to use him to resurrect an elder god. Next, Hellboy travels to Arcadia in search of Ghost, a spectral vigilante caught up in a web of intrigue orchestrated by an ancient mask.

How could you not love this - Hellboy.  Batman. Starman. Kicking butt and well, kicking more butt and putting some gods back in their boxes. 

As some of you may know, I am a big Hellboy fan. I love the world, the concepts and think Mr. Magnola is a pretty cool dude.  I also really like Batman and appreciate Bruce Wayne's struggle with his identity and such.  And mixing these guys up, with Starman (and his son) and then throwing in Ghost at the end of the graphic novel, is a fan-girl's dream. 

Some nasty Nazi clones grab hold of Ted Knight, the older Starman and drag him off for some nefarious purpose.  Batman accompanies Hellboy as they puzzle out what's going on exactly, but with the Joker going a bit mental in Gotham, Batman can only send Hellboy on his way with the use of one of his private planes.  Accompanying Hellboy is Starman Jnr.  I liked Starman - his focus was entirely on getting to his dad but he had enough time to try and figure out Hellboy and what the Nazi's wanted.  He was more than the sum of his parts.  I liked that a lot.  Hellboy of course dominated the story as he is the focus in both these stories - with his single focus: find out what the Nazis want with Ted Knight.  And once Hellboy and Starman figure it out (raising of a slumbering god) the good old monster smashing starts.  

Both these stories are fast and furious - the drawings are excellent and I loved the colours used to show the darkness of Gotham and the creepiness of the Amazon as they track down Starman. 

The final story is a bit of an odd one and my least favourite of them all yet it features Ghost who I really do quite like. Ghost is basically completely bamboozled by some nasties to take down Hellboy so that said nasties can secure his Hand in order to unlock the gateway / dimensions.  The action sequences is quite good but honestly, the final story is the one that lets this cool little trilogy of short stories down.   Ghost and Hellboy don't play well together - and I feel that they can be made to appreciate each other more but naturally, it is a more interesting story to have them be conflicted.  

Masks and Monsters is a quick fun read - showcasing some favourite heroes from other writers.  I'd definitely recommend it and to be honest, maybe I'm being a bit harsh on Ghost and on her story.  I'd like to hear what others think of this selection. 


asamum said...

Do you think the Hellboy series would be a good addition to the library??? No nasty content or anything???

Graeme Flory said...

Thanks for reminding me that I need to post a review on this at some point... *redface*

The story with Ghost was a two comic mini-series (back in the day) and does come across as rushed because of the time constraints here. Maybe making it a three parter, instead of just two, would have made all the difference? I wondered if this was the start of something ongoing with Ghost but while Hellboy went from strength to strength, Ghost's series kind of faded away which was a real shame :o(

There are hints of so much back story to Arcadia here and all of that is best picked up on in the Ghost omnibus collections (they are so worth the read). The 'Ghost' story is a nice one for fans like me but probably not the best place to jump on board for the first time.

I wish there was more 'Ghost' to read... :o(