An ambitious overdose of emotion, action, and humor, “Hellboy: The Midnight Circus” is a tremendously fun ride. Readers get a chance to see what the blue-collar paranormal investigator was like as a child. As a prequel, this will clearly hook uninitiated newcomers into the critically acclaimed “Hellboy” series.
WRITTEN BY: Mike Mignola
ART BY: Duncan Fegredo
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
RELEASE: October 23, 2013
In a flashback to the past, Hellboy is a curious and naive little boy as he wanders around the hallways of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. The B.P.R.D. agents have become accustomed to Little Hellboy being around, even letting him join in on their raunchy conversations. But there are some who are terribly frightened of the demonic infant, who is destined to become the destroyer of mankind. Professor Trevor Bruttenholm though wants to believe he can guide the young lad to become a better man. When Hellboy suddenly runs away from the only place he knows, Bruttenholm has to find the missing child first before his real family from Hell get to him.
Influenced by Ray Bradbury’s novel, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” writer Mike Mignola has come up with an interesting coming-of-age tale about the distinction between upbringing and growth. Symbolizing childhood innocence, Little Hellboy discovers the awkwardness of first crushes as he wanders around the traveling circus. Though he doesn’t understand what the word means, Little Hellboy meets Lust, who will tempt him for her own purposes. Each circus performer is trying to sway Hellboy to join them and claim his rightful throne in Hell.
As the narrative continues, Mignola develops the father/son relationship as he distinguishes parallels to Pinocchio’s journey to Hellboy’s. Though they are not related by blood, Professor Bruttenholm treats Little Hellboy as if he were his own son. Professor Bruttenholm sees himself as a father just trying to raise a child, who others perceive to be a “bad kid.” Living as an orphan, Little Hellboy wants to belong to a welcoming and loving family.
Throughout the storyline, Duncan Fegredo illustrates different artistic styles to heighten the visual experience. In the opening pages, Fegredo keeps the panels shot from Little Hellboy’s point-of-view. With the assistance of Dave Stewart’s coloring, the lines are a bit bolder and the character designs are more detailed when Little Hellboy enters the circus. In an unforgettable piece of imagery, Little Hellboy sees himself growing up across a hall of mirrors. Little Hellboy actually witnesses who he will become the monster everyone is so afraid of.
Fegredo nails the right emotional arcs between Little Hellboy and Professor Bruttenholm. Depicting childhood wonder, Little Hellboy always has this look of awe when he is speaking to the adults. Notice the anxiousness and confusion on Hellboy’s face when the B.P.R.D. agents are talking about sex. In his close-ups, Professor Bruttenholm has this worried and tired expression of an over-protective but loving parent.
Just in time for Halloween, “Hellboy: The Midnight Circus” is downright impossible to put down when you start reading. For those who only know about Hellboy through the Guillermo Del Toro movies, this a great way to be re-introduced to the character in the comics.
Reviewed by – Jorge Solis
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