What: Hellboy: The Crooked Man and Others

Why: I read a lot of comics. I mean a lot. And there aren’t a lot of collections that I chomp at the bit for in anticipation. The biggest exception?

Hellboy. I’ve been devouring Mike Mignola’s “paranormal investigator” opus since the late 90s, and when he stopped doing the art regularly in the last few collected volumes, I thought my interest would wain a little…but where Mignola has eased off the art, he’s amped up the writing. Originally it was all about Mignola’s vision, his minimalist approach, his knowledge of folklore…and while these aspects still hold, his story telling has taken some wonderful turns.

In this latest volume, the story takes Hellboy, in the late 50s, to the heart of Appalachia and an altercation with witches, an agent of the devil and more. And it’s awesome. The art, by legend Richard Corben, is perfect. I can’t even imagine anyone else doing it. The texture, Dave Stewart’s colors, it just looks fantastic. The other stories (featuring some much missed art from Mignola) are diverse, and thoroughly enjoyable. This is the first Hellboy book I’ve wanted to reread the second I finished. Want to check out Hellboy without making the 10 volume purchase? This collection is like the perfect sampler for the current vibe of Hellboy. Buy it or find it in the library, but definitely read it. And be prepared to read it again.