Friday, July 04, 2008

Hellboy: The Crooked Man #1 review

It's 1958 in the Appalachian mountains in Virginia. Hellboy is seeing to a family who's daughter has been bewitched. While talking to the family, a fellow named Tom Ferrel walks in. Seems this guy had left a long time ago says he wanted to say hello and finds a "witchball" on the doorstep. They talk and decide that a woman named Cora Fisher is responsible so Hellboy decides to investigate this woman while old Tom tags along.

While on their way, Tom tells Hellboy the story of him meeting a witch named Effie Kolb, naked in a lake, when he was a kid and teaches him how to make a lucky bone and summon the devil. He does, but upon seeing him, he runs off and eventually joins the Army fighting in World War II, surviving thanks to his lucky bone.

Eventually we meet Cora, the girl who's skin is seen draped across her bed, reenter it as a racoon. Corben draws a very cute racoon by the way. They confront her and she confesses to taking up with some witches after her life went to hell. While Cora pleads with them Effie Kolb, not aging since Tom last saw her, comes along demanding Cora come along with her. Tom refuses to let Cora go and it basically goes from there. Effie gives Tom the half dead horse she was riding in on which turns out to be his father, who dies immediately. Tom decides it's time for him to finally confront the devil he saw all those years ago and save Cora's soul.

I really liked this story. I really really REALLY liked this story. Being set in backwoods Virginia in the 50s, Richard Corben's art nails the atmosphere that Mignola is going for. It might be a bit too backwoods, but it doesn't matter cause for me this was all about the atmosphere. Corben's art really makes this book hard to put down. Backwoods in low light, Tom with his long face checking out demon familiars against firelight, burning candles illuminating shed skin...I could swim in this setting. The hillbilly magic, boiling dead cats and repudiating Christ and the like...really, this is fantastic American Gothic type stuff. The story is pretty good, but it's the mood and the setting that draws me in.

Love it. Kind of a so-so week overall, but this comic here is a knock out.


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