Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The four-volume Hellboy Omnibus series plus the two Complete Short Stories omnibuses collect Mike Mignola’s award-winning Hellboy stories in chronological order, giving new fans a definitive reading experience. The final Hellboy omnibus collection Complete Short Stories Volume 2 collects short stories and one-off longer tales of Hellboy’s adventures in chronological order from 1961 to 1993, leading up to the first volume Seed of Destruction.
These short stories range over a vast area of space and time as Hellboy, endlessly curious and restless, wanders the world looking for ways to escape himself but generally finding (or causing) trouble wherever he goes. Crafted by Mignola with as much intention as the longer book-length adventures, these episodes often reveal important fragments of his Hellboy mythos amongst all the encounters with demons, monsters and other unquiet spirits. Tonally they are more likely to lean towards straight horror than the longer adventures and a couple of stories here are quite gruesome without Mignola’s more abstract drawings to soften them.
100 pages of this 368-page book are drawn by Mignola himself, the rest features a selection of fan-favourite artists. The stories are: ‘The Hydra and the Lion’, ‘The Troll Witch’, ‘The Baba Yaga’, all drawn by Mignola; ‘The Sleeping and the Dead’ drawn by Scott Hampton; ‘Heads,’ ‘Goodbye Mister Tod’, ‘The Vârcolac’, all drawn by Mignola; ‘The Vampire of Prague’ drawn by P. Craig Russell; ‘The Bride of Hell’ drawn by Richard Corben; ’The Whittier Legacy’ drawn by Mignola; ‘Buster Oakley Gets His Wish’ drawn by Kevin Nowlan; ‘They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships’ drawn by Jason Shawn Alexander; ‘A Christmas Underground’, ‘Dr. Carp’s Experiment’, ‘The Ghoul, or Reflections on Death and the Poetry of Worms’, ‘In the Chapel of Moloch’, all drawn by Mignola; and ‘Makoma, or a Tale Told by a Mummy in the New York City Explorers’ Club on August 16, 1993’ drawn by Richard Corben and Mike Mignola.
There are 24 pages of sketches at the back of this book. The majority of these are Mignola showing character designs and discussing his process, with additional pencils, inks and design work from Richard Corben, Scott Hampton and Kevin Nowlan. These are only a small selection of the much larger sketchbook sections available in the Library Editions volumes Four and Six. But otherwise everything in the seven current Hellboy Library Editions plus numerous other books not currently collected anywhere else, such as Hellboy in Mexico and The Midnight Circus have all now been reprinted in this very reasonably priced and conveniently packaged set. New readers can’t go wrong.