In my review of the first issue of this mini-series from Mike Mignola’s ever expanding Hellboy universe, I admired the restraint in allowing the quiet to drive the reader through the narrative. I felt that was important in establishing a mood to balance a story that was by all appearances going to center on obsession, and obsession as a character motivation sometimes gives me pause due to my concern that obsession can quickly fall flat with characters, robbing the possibility of dynamism and instead developing static representations (more on that in a moment). While the intensity of the quiet obsession faded with a middle-of-the-pack issue #2, by the end of issue #3 a new question derivative of the obsession of the character of Anders arise through some actions (no spoilers, sorry folks) that for me redeem the story: a question like , how far are the characters going to change to accomplish the goal? By the very fact that this issue had me, the reader, ask a new question, indicates that the story has something left to say, even muddled in a classic tale of obsession. Such questions that emerge from tales of obsession, of drive, in a more organic way as this issue has developed makes me more willing to forgive the revenge quality that is lightly lying in the upfront context of this story (and not that there is anything wrong with that; if that is the context for you, I am cool with that). Revenge in my opinion, as someone who loves stories, is a base feeling, something that is too simplistic and makes a character devolve into something akin to The Punisher or a stock, stereotypical villain, rather than one with at least a bit of substance, as the character of Anders is developing into by the end of this installment. This third issue gives a strong indication that the story is starting to turn, and I hope it continues to evolve a bit more in the next issue.
Those who have not had access or were aware of the confident artwork of Ba & Moon will be pleased and possibly surprised by the high quality they find, and I think this is as good and affordable an introduction short of digging out a $1.00 back issue of Daytripper in a dusty long box at an LCS. The action of the issue takes place in large interconnected underground catacombs forming some sort of temple stuck deep within the European continent in the middle part of the last century when the mystical, the creepy still probably kept children in their beds with bedtime tales of creatures of the night that roam the forest. I had not consciously noticed this previously with the first issue (and I will need to dig through my storage long boxes soon to confirm my thought), but the team of Moon & Ba seem to re-create the jagged shadows and geometry of the architecture in an uncanny Mignola simulacrum that maintains their own sensibilities. Having Dave Stewart keeping it all consistent in the color department as always doesn’t hurt either.
Part three, in posing a twist to the question of obsession, provides momentum going into the next installment. Whether that will fall flat or not remains to be seen.