Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hellboy / Beasts of Burden #1 (One Shot)

So here's a comic that, on the strength of the concept alone, has to be one of my favorite comics of the year.

After reading it, I'm happy to report that it's even better than I hoped it would be - which is pretty amazing, because let's face it, most team-up / crossovers end up being crap.

Perhaps this one works because both comic creations - Mike Mignola's Hellboy (the demonic creature who was adopted by mankind and fights on its side against horrors of all kinds) and Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson's Beasts of Burden (dogs in the neighborhood of Burden Hill carry on the long tradition of protecting the people in the town from supernatural horrors) - are a similar mix of horror and humor, triumph and tragedy.

The two are brought together in a touching way. as a mysterious dog tugs on Hellboy's coat and leads him - somehow - to the dogs and cat who make up the "Beasts."

Somehow Hellboy can understand them. In their own comic, the Beasts can talk to each other, but not to humans (think Watership Down), though this is never exactly explained.

They go in search of a horror that lives deep underground, and the lives of our heroes hang in the balance.

You might expect horrific images in a Hellboy story, but don't let the inclusion of cute dogs and a cat fool you into thinking this is a fuzzy animal story - the Beasts of Burden tales are just as grisly, horrific and often heartbreaking as any comic I can remember reading.

This issue is written by Evan Dorkin and drawn by Jill Thompson, and it's just amazing. The characters are expressive, the settings haunting and beautiful, the monsters horrific - it's just a scary delight from start to finish.

If you're not a fan of horror, then this isn't for you.

But if you enjoy it, this is a comic you must not miss. And it's the perfect way to celebrate Halloween!

Grade: A


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