January 3, 2016
Let me see if I can recap things correctly here: In the previous volume, little baby Starlina blew up her dad while on a sugar high while Admiral Tiger Eating a Cheesburger invaded the Earth and the Anti-Mugger was arrested for mugging! This is all followed by Starlina being abducted by the inhabitants of the planet Super Gentendo 64 to be used as a power source for their next-gen upgrade, Sir Hippothesis leading the star-powered bear cavalry against the Eating a Cheesburger forces, and Starrior getting some ridiculous armor as she uses the assistance of Time Giraff to go back in time and bring (more than one version of) her husband to the present. This is all in addition to the issue guest-narrated by Charles Soule, the cross-ghost-dimensional adventures of the fused Gnarled Winslow/Texas Tom, and Craymok shilling for Environmints -- the mints that will (literally) take you places! Who needs drugs when the summary of this volume sounds like a hallucinogenic fever dream!
You also start to wonder just how could creator Ryan Browne top the insanity on display in this volume. As fun as this was, I’m starting to think that if this is going to be the final volume then that wouldn’t be so bad. Chucking this kind of ridiculousness at the reader is going to get old after a while, and this volume is starting to crystalize Browne’s formula for characters and dialogue based on puns, pop culture references from the 80’s and 90’s, and movie quotes. He may have ripped off the ending from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” wholesale for this volume, yet it still feels like an appropriate finish for a series as mental as this. If this third volume is going to be the last one, then I can at least say that Browne has decided to quit while he was ahead here.
January 2, 2016
With his signature creation, “The Goon,” appearing to have gone off the rails in its most recent outing, I was wondering if creator Eric Powell’s best days were behind him. “Big Man Plans” proves that this isn’t the case. It’s the story of an unnamed dwarf who goes through life suffering every indignity and cruelty possible, and dishing out all the anger and violence he can in response. This cycle is interrupted one day by a letter from a girl he knew back home that causes him to return to rage and get respect. What follows is a story that manages to avoid the pitfalls of being relentlessly depressing through sheer brutality, achieving a satisfying catharsis in the end.
Read the rest of this entry »
January 1, 2016
A somewhat rare work in the Mignolaverse these days in that it’s written by the man himself without the assistance of a co-writer. This miniseries shows what happened to Frankenstein’s Monster after we last saw him in “Hellboy: House of the Living Dead.” As it turns out, he met an old woman in the jungles of Mexico who told him that he was bound for greater things. This would include falling into one of seven underground cities that were originally established by the sons of Thoth of Hyperborea to bring light to the outside world. That is, before their priests were corrupted by the Ogdru Jahad and the cities themselves were either destroyed or sunk into the Earth as a result of their wicked acts. The one that Frankenstein’s Monster has found himself in is one that has subsequently been colonized by an exploratory group from the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra which found the light of the city, and then its curse. It’s now up to this hunted, tormented monster to finally stop running and save the spirits of the good people who are bound to this evil place.
While knowledge of the above-mentioned “Hellboy” story isn’t necessary for enjoying this series, longtime followers of the Mignolaverse will likely be surprised at how many other parts of it intersect here. I’ve already mentioned the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra, and the Ogdru Jahad, but we also get insight into the Vril power, the Hollow Earth Theory, and an appearance from the Marquis Adoet De Fabre of all people. There are also likely a few other things that I didn’t spot in the story, but it’s also a credit to Mignola that the story itself remains pretty straightforward and easy to grasp despite bringing in all of these other elements. Still, it would’ve made for a more interesting story to see Frankenstein’s Monster take a stronger hand on his own destiny as he spends most of the miniseries being thrust from one event into another by the dictates of the plot.
Having Ben Stenbeck illustrate the story does make for visually captivating tale as he’s great at realizing all of the strange and weird things from this world on the page. As it is, if you’ve been reading “Hellboy” and “B.P.R.D.” for years, then I can’t see how you wouldn’t find something (many things, more likely) to enjoy about this volume. While this may be a standalone story, it’s also probably not the best place for newcomers for the Mignolaverse to start given that it feels designed to reward the longtime reader for their close attention to all that has come before.