Hellboy in Hell #7: The Hounds of Pluto (Part 1) Review
I like to tell people that I’m a fan of Hellboy. However, I’m very careful to whom I tell this, because to say I’m a “fan” is somewhat of an exaggeration. I don’t read the series regularly and probably never will, but I’ll admit that I’ve watched the films, and I enjoyed them so much that I decided to learn about Hellboy (his past, his present, his future) from various sources. So I guess you could say I’m a fan of Hellboy like people who watch HGTV are fans of flipping houses.
Regardless, I recently reviewed B.P.R.D.: 1946 – 1948, and I loved it immensely as it taught me more about Hellboy’s childhood and especially about his father, Dr. Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm. As a result, I jumped at the opportunity to review Hellboy in Hell #7: The Hounds of Pluto (Part 1) to learn more about Hellboy’s journey into the darkness.
The story starts off with Big Red dying – in hell – from a parasite eating his soul, and it’s weakened him severely. He looks gaunt, sinewy, and lacking his vibrant red color. The bedridden Hellboy is prone to hallucinations, seeing/hearing past friends and even confusing his skeletal bedfellows for their human forms.
They tell Hellboy that things looks bleak for him, and darkness will envelop him if he doesn’t seek help. In fact, hell itself is rather dark and hopeless (that’s hell for you!), and Mignola & Co. do a great job expressing this through limited use of color.
Not only is Hellboy lacking his red hue, but the rest of his surroundings are black, blue, and seemingly dying. While it all makes sense given the setting, it’s hammered home through the use (or rather lack of use) of space on the pages. Dull and drab colors combined with the mostly empty panels gives the reader a sense that things in Hellboy’s universe have seen better days.
Still, this isn’t to say Mignola left out some of the humor and attitude. The story builds to Hellboy enlisting the help of an embattled Dr. Hoffman to rid his soul of the killer parasite. The doctor obliges, but Hellboy will have to assist him in trapping the soul of a demonic rival in the body of a cat. And here’s is where Hellboy shows some of his old, parasite-free self: he does what needs to be done to get the job done. He doesn’t ask questions, he doesn’t want explanations, he just guards Hoffman, waiting for any and all trouble to come his way.
And trouble certainly find Hellboy.
All the dank feelings from the beginning of the story seems to blow away when, at the climax, Hellboy is greeted by Dr. Hoffman’s rival, Dr. Coppelius…except he’s not himself. Enraged by Dr. Hoffman escaping his persecution once again, Coppelius goes mad and grows to giant proportions as he seeks to destroy Hoffman for good. Hellboy is only vaguely aware of the scope of his trial, but again, it matters not to him. He sees a problem (parasite), a solution (Hoffman), and a hurdle (Coppelius), shrugs his shoulders and accepts.
As a treat for sticking through this gloomy tale, the readers are greeted with a bit of Hellboy flare on the final page. Coppelius is now full demon (or whatever he is), filling the pages with red and orange as his rage builds. He introduces himself to Hellboy by crashing into the scene screaming for Hoffman. Hellboy may have been ready to tackle any obstacle, but even he can’t help but share his surprise at the task he’s been assigned with one simple utterance: “JEEZ!”
A great blend of creative coloring and the dark storyline make Hellboy in Hell #7: The Hounds of Pluto (Part 1) a worthy intro to this storyline. While I found the lack of real dialogue and its replacement with scattered thoughts to be off-putting at first, I warmed to the idea once I got a better feel for the setting and direness of Hellboy’s situation (which itself is exemplified by the text and dialogue). I’m excited to see how Hellboy handles his little predicament in part 2 of the Hounds of Pluto.
[Images via Dark Horse]