Sure, it’s a little late for a Christmas-themed comic, but that didn’t stop Dark Horse from putting out THE HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL this week. And it’s a solid romp well worth a read. Of course, with nine creator names slapped onto the cover, you know this book is looking to be an anthology! Let’s jump right in.
The first story is BROKEN VESSELS, by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, and Tim Sale, and it takes us back to the more savage times of Gall Dennar. A strange traveler visits him, speaking of the mysterious Vril power and how it may linger in the bones of long dead Hyperboreans. A glimpse of spring comes to the winter wastes as their journey concludes, leaving Gall alone once again, sword in hand.
WANDERING SOULS by Mignola, Chris Roberson, and Michael Walsh features Hellboy and psychic BPRD Agent Susan Xiang investigate a strange sighting of spirits speaking Cantonese in the middle of a coal mine in Wyoming. Of course, the mine hides a dark and tragic secret, but the charm here (and the HELLBOY & THE B.P.R.D. title from which this story follows) is the spotlight on a seemingly run-of-of-the-mill member of the BPRD. And any story where Hellboy gets some bonding time with an individual agent like that is great! With Agent Xiang, the two actually share a superpower– communing with ghosts. Although sometimes I forget that HB doesn’t actually speak to the dead… they speak to him. The story wraps up nicely, and makes we want to see more of Agent Xiang for sure.
MOOD SWINGS by Chelsea Cain and Michael Avon Oeming is the star attraction of the anthology. Hellboy’s trying to make Christmas a little more special for tempermental teenage Elizabeth Sherman. After a gift-giving gone bad, he takes her out to the woods for a better gift, a carefully set-up circle of snowmen.
After some mysterious snowball fighting, things immediately get weird.
Snow geists are parasitic demon things that infect innocent snowpeople. Hellboy gives a quick lesson about them and gets ready for some clobberin’ time… but it wouldn’t be a story with Liz Sherman in it if she didn’t cut loose and obliterate everything around her, and that’s just how things get resolved. Nothing says Christmas like forest fires and killer snowmen.
The last story, KUNG PAO LOBSTER by Dean Rankine, features Lobster Johnson ordering chinese food for two pages. It’s bizzarre; the art and tone is very in the vein of Peter Bagge, everything’s intense and exaggerated, but you can’t help but really admire the mind behind it.
THE HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL is sort of the second “Winter Special” ever put out featuring Hellboy. Which is a little surprising, given how cool he looks tromping around and punching stuff in the snow. Waaaaay back in 1997, in a story called A CHRISTMAS UNDERGROUND, Hellboy fights to save the soul of a cursed woman’s lost daughter. It’s a little more serious, a little more sentimental, but in the spirit of the season without a doubt. And it treats us to an almost unforgettable series of panels:
Hellboy may be dead yet fighting for his life in Hell right now, but he’s still my favorite Santa.
You can grab THE HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL for yourself right off the rack this week. A CHRISTMAS UNDERGROUND was published as the fourteenth sequential issue of HELLBOY, but is also available in HELLBOY: THE CHAINED COFFIN AND OTHERS or HELLBOY LIBRARY EDITION: VOLUME 2.
And if a snowman you know may be in danger of being possessed by a snow geist, call the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense hotline.