If you’re planning, for whatever reason, to reimagine the world’s greatest paranormal investigator, from one of the most iconic comic books, by bizarrely thrusting him back into preadolescence, Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani are probably the men you want behind the process. Having created similar comics with fan-favourite titles like “Tiny Titans” and “Superman Family Adventures”, both writers clearly demonstrate their knack for adapting popular content to appeal to an all-ages market. Now, with the daunting task of effectively marrying Mike Mignola’s gritty supernatural world with colourful residential settings befitting of the Sunday funnies, Art and Franco deliver another obnoxiously adorable gem to add to their repertoire with Dark Horse Comics’ “Itty Bitty Hellboy” #1.
WRITTEN BY: Art Baltazar, Franco
ART BY: Art Baltazar
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
RELEASE: August 28, 2013
“Itty Bitty Hellboy” is a charming childproof alternate universe of another alternate universe, where the world-threatening mythical monsters of “Hellboy” are strangely not a reality that must be taken care of and kept quiet. Any material from the original source that may be deemed controversial in the hands of children is understandably omitted from this mini-series; but what remains is a silly playground spin on Mike Mignola’s recognizable and brilliant characters.
Take, for example, Hellboy’s Invulnerable Right Hand of Doom. Do Art and Franco acknowledge the fact that it contextually serves as the key to the end of the world? Of course not! That massive appendage is better suited as a destructive Walnut Smasher of Gluttony… obviously. It’s little things like that which makes this three-issue endeavor so delightfully comical. With amusingly kid-friendly adjustments and story events featuring a large supporting cast of characters, Art and Franco produce an engaging and approachable story that will resonate with younger readers, regardless of whether or not they possess any knowledge of the original source.
In terms of story, “Itty Bitty Hellboy” is a hypercompressed take on a long-lasting series, showcasing numerous short comics that relate to a larger narrative, yet can still stand alone as mini-comic one-shots. It follows the notable Karl Kroenen, Rasputin, and Herman Von Klempt, as they embark on an “evil” mission to usurp the B.P.R.D. agents of their huge refrigerator box fort. Characters like Liz Sherman, Roger the Homunculus, Johann Krauss, and Abe Sapien are given time to shine alongside Hellboy, as well; all adorably designed for a series which follows the amusing adventures of a group of youngsters, for a group of youngsters.
Baltazar’s art is colourful, fun, and vivacious. Character interaction is pure cheese, and incredibly suited to engage kids with his style of uncomplicated shapes and clean lines. His simple renderings of the characters’ faces surprisingly emote convincingly, and their reactions in scenes are just as communicative. The action and the numerous instances of humor are presented in a way that’s super justifiable given the overall theme of the project, and makes for an accessibly entertaining experience for the readers.
If you like your Hellboy with a rather large side helping of adorable, “Itty Bitty Hellboy” is your jam.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd