Hellboy 8: Darkness Calls

story by Mike Mignola
art by Duncan Fegredo

Duncan Fegredo's art is messy and hectic; he captures what i imagine must be the more Kirbyesque aspects of Hellboy (something i can't say for sure, knowing about Jack Kirby's work in comics only from than what i've read that's been said about it by people like Neil Gaiman and Mike Mignola)--the sprawling, dynamic, literally larger than life depictions of action--some of Mignola's attention to detail and stylistic anatomical excesses in character design, but little else. i tend not to enjoy Hellboy as much when drawn by hands other than Mignola's--i even have reservations about the one drawn by P. Craig Russell. the latter, however--'The Vampire of Prague' (collected in Hellboy 7: The Troll Witch and Others)--at least had a script that seemed suited to Russell's style. Darkness Calls is very much Mike Mignola writing for Mike Mignola's Hellboy, and the fit is jarringly, exasperatingly imprecise; Mignola's Hellboy has always been somewhat minimalist in both writing and art, and the combination here (Mignola's writing and Fegredo's art) is disorienting--one never ceases to distract from the other. Mignola's Hellboy, even at its most cryptic and subtle, never failed to be coherent. Darkness Calls, by comparison, is a sprawling, untidy mess.

it's a shame that i should feel the urge to leave this series just when Hellboy's destiny seems almost certain to finally catch up with him; moreover, it seems churlish to say the least to judge Fegredo's work against Mignola's so summarily and so soon after his arrival to take over the reins from the book's creator. nonetheless, unless Mignola and Fegredo can find a balance between the minimalist, almost poetical narrative style of the former and the excessively cluttered art of the latter, i'm sorry to say i might not be there to see the end.

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