I promised you more Hellboy, and more Hellboy ye shall receive.

Today I’m on volume 3 of the Hellboy series, The Chained Coffin and Others, the first of numerous collections giving us some of Mike Mignola’s short story adventures of the world’s greatest paranormal detective.

And they’re some of my favorites.



This book contains some of the best examples of Hellboy comics, not to mention a Christmas tale and a rare direct follow up to a subplot of a previous story. Oh yea, and our first glimpse of Hellboy’s origins before he was brought here in the closing months of World War II. Intrigued? Doesn’t matter. Because it’s still a great read, well worth your time and money.

The Corpse is considered by many to be Mignola’s best comic work. I can’t disagree. This story is an adaptation of an Irish folktale and is a great example of his skill in taking a piece of folklore and making it very much a Hellboy story. And he does all this while still managing to seamlessly integrate threads for future stories. Plus, his art is amazing. And there’s still a giant monster fight.

The Iron Shoes is another, much barer bones, folktale story. It’s much shorter, but still a lot of fun. The Baba Yaga, conversely is incredibly creepy and finally gives us the story behind Hellboy’s first meeting with the preeminent witch of Russian folklore, and how he shot out her eye.

 

Next we get A Christmas Underground, and while you may be disturbed by the fact that there’s a Hellboy Christmas story, you’ll probably be more shocked at how bizarre the story actually is. Let’s just say a demon, a ring and an old woman who may or may not be confusing Hellboy with Santa Claus are involved.

The Chained Coffin is the titular story, in which Hellboy travels to the English Church ruins in which he appeared in Seed of Destruction and we learn more about Hellboy’s parentage, and why those ghosts were hanging out there before Hellboy’s arrival.

The penultimate chapter The Wolves of Saint August gives us Mignola’s first werewolf tale in which Dr. Kate Corrigan (a personal favorite character whose knowledge of occult history has made her indispensable in later B.P.R.D. stories) comes more to the forefront, and Hellboy gets a French history lesson he probably would have rather avoided.

The final tale, and the longest, is Almost Colossus. Remember that creature Liz Sherman brought to life in Wake the Devil? Did you think that was a throw away plot point? It wasn’t. It was the beginning of one of the most loved, and saddest aspects of Hellboy and especially B.P.R.D. stories 10 years later.

Any one of these stories shows us exactly how good comics can be. From the whimsical The Corpse, to the disturbing  A Christmas Underground, to the more continuity tied  Almost Colossus, this collection of Hellboy tales makes Hellboy more intimate a character while expanding his universe at the same time. I’ve read a lot of Hellboy over the years, but this remains my favorite of all Mignola’s work. A+ isn’t enough.