"Hellboy in Mexico" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Mike Mignola
Illustrated by Mike Mignola, Richard Corben, Mick McMahon, Fabio Moon, and Gabriel Ba
Colored by Dave Stewart
2016, 152 Pages
Trade Paperback released on April 13th, 2016
Of all the many eras of Hellboy's life, his five month stint in Mexico is easily my favorite. During this time he hung out with luchadores, fought all kinds of demons, and got completely wasted. Along the way he ended up in a wrestling ring on more than one occasion and even fought Frankenstein's monster. This is why Hellboy in Mexico is such an awesome collection of stories.
Each tale in this trade paperback has a brief introduction from creator Mike Mignola, explaining where the story came from and how it got made. Die hard Hellboy fans will have already seen some of these in previous collections, such as the final one first published as an original graphic novel, House of the Living Dead. That doesn't make this book any less great.
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The whole premise of Hellboy's time south of the border is brilliant. Mignola explains that it all came from a drawing he did for fun in 2004 of the character with a Mexican wrestler. From there, things snowballed and more and more stories were created. The thing about this character is that he has such a wide berth of history. He came into our world during World War II and lived here for decades before shuffling off this mortal coil. The bulk of the Hellboy comics have explored his later adventures, when he's already a seasoned agent of the B.P.R.D. Here we see some of the background that led to the man who would one day sacrifice himself to save the entire planet.
The opening story, illustrated by Richard Corben, is quintessential Hellboy. It's filled with amazing battles and its fair share of heartbreak. Hellboy teams up with three luchadores to battle vampires and other demons in the area. Things are going great until the youngest is presumably killed. This sends the remaining group down a dark path and leads to a climactic final showdown in the squared circle. Corben brings this fight to life with such excitement and savagery. The whole thing is capped with a movie reel showing Hellboy's later days in Mexico, which is such a perfect end to the tale.
Mignola weaves in assorted folklore, taking what works best for the stories and adjusting it to fit with his characters. Some of this comes from him wanting to work with a certain creature or monster and others are just fun things that the artist wanted to draw. It's amazing how these books can all come together.
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This trade paperback is colored by Dave Stewart and there really isn't much I should have to say about his work. The guy's a master and has done more Hellboy comics than I can count, so he knows what he's doing. The character's color is a vibrant red, which stands out in the dreary backgrounds of each story. It's as if Hellboy is the one shining light in the whole country.
Aside from the first comic, my favorite in this collection is probably Hellboy Gets Married, a two-parter with pencils by Mick McMahon. He's got a smooth art style that flows well. When the wedding doesn't go exactly as planned, Hellboy has to fight off some skeleton conquistadors in a brilliant display of fisticuffs and swordplay.
Hellboy in Mexico is a treat for new and old fans. It gives you a good taste of what the character is about and the crazy world he lives in. While he's capable of truly heroic deeds, Hellboy doesn't always win, as seen in two stories in this book. He does what's right and sometimes that means standing up against evil forces far bigger than him. Fortunately, he's not afraid to punch anyone right in the mouth, big or small.