The unfortunate problem with this Hellboy collection is that the title is oddly misleading. It’s not a collection of events from his many stories printed in Dark Horse Comics or even recording his path to becoming the paranormal detective of the BPRD. It’s actually an art book, collecting together the best works of Mike Mignola featuring the supernatural world he created. That’s really about it. There’s no story or much in the way of text to speak of, just a great many art pieces produced by a master of his craft. That’s likely going to switch off a few people already, but at the same time it’s not a book you should instantly discard. It does have its own qualities.
Foremost among these is, most obviously, Mignola’s talent asan artist. Offering a wide variety of takes on his work from basic sketches tofull covers and scenes, the collective gives a very clear indication of hisapproaches to work and styles. Without the drive of the story and it’s mucheasier to appreciate the often minimalistic and heavily shaded visuals hecrafts for scenes. While often known for his toned down, dark subdued visuals,there is a clear method and frequent examples are given of how he crafts thefull range of shades, lightings and the distinct differences between the moresombre and action packed moments. Admittedly that is more a credit to the workof award winning colourist and collaborator on these comics, Dave Stewart, butit’s important to see how well the two work together and the surprising rangeit can offer.