Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The Hellboy Omnibus Volume 4: Hellboy in Hell is the shortest of all four omnibus volumes at 286 pages. It reprints the Hellboy in Hell Library Edition, which features the ten stories that make up that series, plus the short story ‘The Exorcist of Vorsk,’ which Mignola says occurs between chapters eight and nine – although he places it after them in this collection so as not to disrupt the flow. Also included here is the short story ‘The Magician and the Snake,’ written by Mignola’s then seven-year-old daughter. Technically this story is not part of the Hellboy universe (it is collected in The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects), but it is an important addition for new readers because it links to the ending of the final chapter, and may (emphasis on ‘may’) provide some answers for the last scene.
After the massive, all-encompassing dramatic and titanic world-shaking epic that was the previous volume, Hellboy in Hell is a much quieter, more sombre experience as Hellboy comes to terms with his new situation. Mignola’s dry humour and strange, elliptical framing enlivens the weird scenes of a crumbling, abandoned netherworld filled with thresholds to cross, secrets to uncover and a seemingly endless number of foes to reconquer. This book really does bring a definitive end to Hellboy’s adventures which seemed to have ended once already, but only in the most mundane sense. As we are constantly shown in these comics, death is a very mutable concept for the protagonists in these worlds, generally leading merely to a change in state.
With its comparatively shorter length this omnibus has room for a bigger sketchbook section than the previous volume. There are 23 pages of Mike Mignola’s pencils shown here with little bits of commentary about his design process. However, completists should be aware that this is still only a tiny selection from the massive 70 pages of sketches in the Hellboy in Hell Library Edition, which also contains another 14 pages of art including unlettered covers and a three-page strip narrated by the Baba Yaga.