Review by Woodrow Phoenix
Material from Mike Mignola’s supernatural adventure series Hellboy, previously released as ‘floppy’ comic books and later as paperback reprints is presented in the Hellboy Library Editions in oversized archival volumes with heavy paper and cloth hardcovers. Each volume reprints two complete trade paperback collections and supplements the complete stories with pages of annotations and commentary, sketches and other additional material by Mignola, some of which is exclusive to these volumes.
Volume two of the Hellboy Library Edition collects The Chained Coffin, the third Hellboy book, and The Right Hand of Doom, the fourth, both written and drawn by Mignola. The contents of these two books presented in bigger and more luxurious form here constitute the definitive collection of short stories from Mignola, ranging in length from two pages to sixty. The big fan favourites ‘Pancakes’ and ‘The Corpse’ are the two stand-outs but all of these are great reading and not to be skipped over. This volume may not be one long adventure like Seed of Destruction or Wake the Devil, but it’s just as crucial for Hellboy completists. Mike Mignola’s way of constructing stories with unusual rhythms and pacing means that he doesn’t save the interesting stuff solely for the bigger story arcs. There is lots of crucial, even pivotal, information about who Hellboy really is and what is coming, in these tales of weirdness, atmosphere and mood. These short stories have much more of a horror theme than the Library Edition Volume 1, but Mignola’s drawing style neutralises a lot of the gore and gross-out qualities that more conventional artists would bring to this material, so it’s readable by almost anyone.
At a very reasonable price point for such a well-designed collection of two-hundred-plus pages of large-format colour art, these editions are the definitive way to enjoy the series and present great value for dedicated Hellboy fans.