What I love about “Hellboy: The Wild Hunt” #1 is that it continues to prove all of the nay-sayers wrong, and I include myself in that category. You see, when Mike Mignola first announced that he was stepping back from drawing “Hellboy” and finding an artist to take over that half of the comic, most “Hellboy” fans (myself included) thought that “Hellboy” would lose a lot of its charm as a direct result. Instead? With first “Hellboy: Darkness Calls” and now “Hellboy: The Wild Hunt,” Duncan Fegredo has proven he’s more than capable of holding up his half of the show.
What I love about Fegredo’s take on “Hellboy” is that it’s clearly following in the footsteps of Mignola’s work on the book, but also letting Fegredo continue to have his own artistic style on display. So for example, Hellboy himself has a lot of Mignola’s hallmarks here. The blocky sawed-off horns, the immense visual weight of his right hand, the continual little curve of his tail. But with Fegredo, Hellboy’s face seems a little longer and leaner, and that iconic heavy jaw goes well with the new slightly tweaked look. Or for example, when Hellboy rounds the corner and finds the hunting party standing and staring at him, the angular body shapes and usage of shadow is vintage Mignola, but the amount of detail with everything on the wall (or the fully lit candelabra on the table) is an extra beautiful touch that is all Fegredo.
And speaking of walls, if Fegredo sells his original art I would seriously be tempted by the 12th page from this issue, with Hellboy being led down a series of passages with giant heads mounted on the walls. It’s gorgeous, just amazing art; each panel screams atmosphere, and there’s more detail in the first panel alone than others would have done in an entire splash page. Hellboy’s comment of, “Holy crap,” when he sees the walls of giant heads is, under the circumstances, entirely warranted.
As for the story itself? It’s great, with Hellboy getting a chance to join the Wild Hunt in search of giants, and with an uneasy group of fellow hunters. Plus there are strange visions, talking animals, and a wooden box holding strange contents. There’s a lot going on here, and the fact that this mini-series is going to be eight issues (which I believe makes it the longest “Hellboy” mini-series to date) gives me hope that Mignola’s laid out more than enough space to get to it all. If you’ve never read “Hellboy” then this is a perfect place to take a look for yourself. Quite excellent by all parties involved.