Hellboy has a special place in my heart, always the reluctant hero, fighting demons, witches, and all manner of mythological baddies, smoking and cursing along the way. Hellboy in Hell began it’s ten issue run with Hellboy permanently dying after his years and years of fighting. After a total of 67 issues over two decades, it’s finally time for the character to earn his final rest. Titled For Whom The Bell Tolls, opening with the famous line of poetry from John Donne, this last issue in Hellboy’s long and storied career is the epitome of what Hellboy has always done; what we wouldn’t expect. The character was expected to be a prince of hell, the bringer of doom, the king of England, the ruler of Earth, an enemy to humanity, the B.P.R.D.’s top agent, but Hellboy never did what others expected of him, and that’s what has always made him one of the best characters to read.
The artwork for the series has never been less than enthralling. Whether it’s series writer and creator Mike Mignola, or fill-in artists Duncan Fegredo or Richard Corben, Hellboy utilizes shadows and stark vistas to illicit a certain emptiness within the reader. Mignola is without a doubt one of the most unique artists in the industry, using minimalistic art and heavy dark lines to draw the reader in, lingering on every contour and piece of debris. For the final issue of Hellboy in Hell, Mignola is in rare form, telling a story through art first and foremost, with seven of the twenty two pages being nothing but angry, lonely art.
Much like the character, Hellboy in Hell‘s final issue does what people wouldn’t expect. Hellboy himself says not one word in this final issue, all of his final confrontation being retold to us by a demon who witnessed the final fight in the center of Pandemonium (the area in the center of the lake of fire in hell). In an almost fitting way, this final issue is more of an epilogue to his adventures, with the final action sequence seemingly tacked on to give readers one final glimpse of a fully realized Hellboy and his Right Hand of Doom in action. Long time readers will love the ending that is melancholy, reflective, and beautiful. At the risk of spoiling anything, I’ll just say that Hellboy gets what he deserves/wants at the end of his journey.
Dave Stewart who has provided colors for the series since issue 14 offers some of his best for his final outing with Mignola. One panel in particular was extremely striking; a burning castle on the shores of hell offered sickly greens, somber blues, and vibrant oranges. Hellboy as a series was always about reflection on the self, what it means to exist, and how someone can be shaped by the world, or reject it. These themes are what made Hellboy a series that one can always go back and reread, taking new meaning with every read through. The final issue is no different. Despite the range of emotions that came forward while reading and pouring over the art, after finishing the last page, I couldn’t help but feel happy. It seems to stem from the satisfaction of a long journey coming to a close, all threads tied and old friends remembered.
Hellboy in Hell issue #10 will stick with you for long after you close the last page and read the final “The End” of the series. It’s melancholy beauty earn it a perfect score. 10 out of 10