"Hellboy: House of the Living Dead" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola
Illustrated by Richard Corben
56 Pages, 2011, $14.99
Graphic Novel released on November 2nd, 2011
Hellboy's time in Mexico is not one that he talks about a lot. He had a span of about three months in the 1950s that was all but forgotten in an alcohol-induced haze. We got a peek into part of it in the recent Hellboy in Mexico story published in Volume 11: The Bride of Hell and Others, but author / creator Mike Mignola looks to expand on the events south of the border in the first original graphic novel in the Hellboy world, House of the Living Dead.
Hellboy took the events in Mexico pretty hard. He holds himself responsible for the death of one of the lucha-libre-wrestlers-turned-vampire-hunters, whom he ended up defeating in the squared circle during an epic battle that would make Hulk Hogan blush. Since then he's been drinking...a lot. That is until he's approached by a strange little man with an offer for a new match. Well, it's not so much an offer as it is a threat. Our hero accepts and has to duke it out with a beast akin to Frankenstein's monster. That's just the beginning of the creatures that Hellboy encounters in this graphic novel.
Mignola has a great style when it comes to these stories. He's able to pluck pieces from Hellboy's long and illustrious history whenever he has a new idea he wants to share. Each of these is conveyed with just the right amount of drama, comedy, and action. He manages to pack this all-too-brief book with the aforementioned monster, vampires, ghosts, and werewolves without missing a beat.
Click images to enlarge.
I'm actually hesitant to call House of the Living Dead a graphic novel. At only 56 pages it's more like an extended one shot with a nice hardcover.
Richard Corben returns for the art in this book. He drew the Hellboy in Mexico story, so he was an obvious choice for the artwork in its sequel. Corben's style reminds me a lot of Robert Crumb's work. It has that same kind of fuzzy outline around all of the characters. You can tell that the doctor and his Igor-like assistant are vile beings from the moment you meet them based on the way they're drawn. Hellboy also looks terrific in his wrestling garb.
Hellboy: House of the Living Dead is Mignola's homage to the Universal monsters of yesteryear. There are more supernatural creatures than you can shake a stick at, which is always a good time. This is a quick read, but it provides closure to the Mexico portion of Hellboy's past.