“Hellboy In Hell” #2 from Mike Mignola is a fantastic study of setting. Hellboy is taken on a tour through Pandemonium, the throne city of Hell, and finds connections for our hero as well as exposition for the reader to chew on. Mignola allows images to dwell on elements where necessary, then switches to dialogue and somber words for other effects. The result is a moody and atmospheric issue that slows the reader down to feel for the duration of their reading experience.
Mike Mignola’s art is the key to this issue. Everything feels simple — deceptively so, as a closer look reveals Mignola actually only gives out exactly what is needed. He paints landscapes with only a few lines and then his trademark architecture and statue-riddled vistas drop mood like a master. The entirety of Hell isn’t shown — Mignola merely depicts glimpses and plays it off against information and character reaction. It is a delightful dance of minor moments constantly building. Considering this issue is merely a tour building to a major beat, every page is captivating. While the progression of the plot is thin, it’s a slow burn in order for the location to take center stage.
Not many artists can confidently structure and manage a page and its flow like Mignola. He generally places one main panel on a page and the rest of the panels work to serve the purpose of the central image. When he chooses a moment to highlight, it always comes out gloriously. Mignola uses simplicity and black space to great effect to control pacing and continuously offer narrative content.
Dave Stewart is an integral aspect to this issue as his colors bring everyone together. A close inspection of Mignola’s line work on certain panels reveals there isn’t much there. This is because Stewart is clearly trusted to bring density to this world and he executes with precise vision every time. His solid colors demarcate the emotional flow on the page. Seeing what he can do with all the shades of red is the sort of thing upon which theses could be written.
“Hellboy in Hell” #2 is a well-structured slice of the overall tale extremely well told by masters of their crafts. It’s nice to see a portion of story that stands relatively alone within the larger structure hold together a single issue for the greatest enjoyment as a monthly installment. Hellboy’s tour through the underworld is enlightening and atmospheric. This issue is about the story as much as it is about how to tell it. “Hellboy in Hell” is shaping up to be something not soon forgotten by readers.