I found a (semi) cheap copy of this at the used book store the other day and was pretty excited that they had the very first volume in this comic series, especially since I’ve been meaning to read if for forever. I really like the movie adaptations of this novel/comic series. But, liking the movies so much made it a bit harder for me to get into the comics. I rated this one 4 stars on Goodreads, and that was being generous. The 3.5 star rating I officially am giving it is also a bit generous. I really, really wanted to like this. But, it just didn’t live up to what I wanted it to be.
This is the debut Hellboy comic. In it Hellboy and his team are faced with dealing with a villain from the past, Rasputin, who was alive during Hitler’s time and promised Hitler a weapon that would win him the war. Of course, he wasn’t talking about a weapon that would win Hitler his war, but a weapon that would win Rasputin’s war and set into motion his plans for the apocalypse. Hellboy is, ultimately, faced with a choice that could bring about the end of the world.
Now, to get right into the issues I had with this comic. I found that the story line was rather confusing, hard to follow, and left a fair amount of loose ends, even for it being the start of a series. I do understand that Mignola published this before comics and graphic novels started to make their way into acceptable mainstream literature, but I still feel that this novel fell flat for me. The characters, including Hellboy, were one-dimensional with very little personality. There were no backstories and no information before the story launched straight into the main plot. I wanted to get to know the characters better. Maybe then I would have enjoyed the story more.
I also found that the writing was verging toward mediocre. It was a bit all over the place. I found myself having to read certain passages more than once to gather the gist of what was happening. It’s not that this was too advanced, it’s just that, as I said earlier, I found some of this novel to be a tad bit confusing. Mignola definitely put effort into this story, but I feel like it needed a dash bit more to completely lift his plot and characters off the ground.
Now, having said all the negative. My biggest positive is that I adored the artwork. The artwork was the second main reason that I bumped up the rating for this graphic novel. (My first main reason is simply that I really did want to love this.) Mignola did and amazing job with his panels. I love the simplicity of his artwork and the color palate he uses. So, even though the story was a bit lacking, at least it was nice to look at.
To conclude, I’m not leaning heartily one way or the other towards recommending or not recommending this novel/comic. I would recommend it if you’re curious about the comic series and/or you like the movies. But, I’m not going to tell you to rush out and get your hands on it right this minute. For me, this was just alright. But, will I read more? Yes. I’ve already read the second one and will keep my eyes peeled for used copies of the third issue, but I won’t be buying it or any of the sequential ones new.