Hellboy: An Assortment of Horrors edited by Christopher Golden
Dark Horse Books (August 29, 2017)
216 pages; $10.19 paperback; $8.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand
For this, the fourth Hellboy prose anthology and the first in almost 10 years, editor Christopher Golden decided to recruit only authors who had never published a Hellboy story in prose before. The result is a fresh crop of tales that showcase the depth and richness of the world Mignola has created.
Rio Youers kicks things off with “The Promised Smile,” a rousing adventure story that follows the tried-and-true template of “Hellboy goes to a remote location and fights monsters.” Youers sends Hellboy and a rookie BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) agent to a tiny island to confront a demon bounty hunter that has stolen a young girl’s smile. Oh, and there are witches in the trees to contend with, too. Hellboy wades into these creatures, first with reason, and then with fists. It’s a rollicking gateway to the stories that follow.
While most of these tales center on Hellboy, Chelsea Cain’s “One More Radical Stone Fox” takes us on a road trip with Liz Sherman, Hellboy’s “fiery” friend and one of the most beloved members of Big Red’s supporting cast. Liz is 14 and on the road, taking an unapproved sabbatical from the BPRD in an effort to find herself on America’s highways. It’s a surprisingly poignant tale of self-discovery, a bit of calm that’s a real standout among the more raucous contents in this collection.
One of the most impressive aspects of the long run of Hellboy comics (and books and movies) over the years is the sheer variety of trouble Hellboy gets into. An Assortment of Horrors is no slouch in this department. We’ve got ghosts, psychic children, cults, a giant snake masquerading as a vampire, and a couple of government agents with special powers and even more special code names: Hooker and Blow.
Amid this strange diversity, though, runs a common thread—the way these authors are able to capture the uniquely humble, blue-collar sensibility of Hellboy himself. This is a guy who is fully aware of how different he is from most of those around him, but who refuses to be defined or constricted by those differences. In many of these stories, Hellboy uses his uniqueness to gain the trust of those who have been shunned because of their ability, appearance or experiences.
Hellboy: An Assortment of Horrors is graced by numerous illustrations by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. While there are a number of talented artists drawing Hellboy comics, no one captures his soul in pen and ink quite like Mignola. The illustrations are a nice bow on this latest gift, just one in a long line of gifts Mignola’s creation has provided over the years. An Assortment of Horrors is a fine addition to the world of Hellboy, and should be embraced by fans of scary stories well told.