At first, "Hellboy in Hell" #8 feels like a fairly standard comic. Mike Mignola picks up where the first half of "The Hounds of Pluto" left off, with Hellboy fighting off a monstrous, demonic cat. But then, just when this story feels like something perfectly average, Mignola ups the ante and provides an ominous path for both the reader and Hellboy.
Mignola mixes things up for the reader around the halfway point. What seems like a brief refresher on Hellboy's past leads directly into both his and Hell's future instead. We're not only reminded of who the members of Hellboy's family are, but that they are relations sent down a path which just oozes with portent. The promise of what will happen to Hell (and Pandemonium in particular) is a sharp reminder nothing lasts forever in Hellboy's universe -- not even Hell itself.
That said, Mignola and Dave Stewart's art gives this book's story the punch needed to take everything to the next level. When Hellboy is brought to meet the Furies, its uncanny usage of negative space makes the moment carry that impact. As Hellboy approaches and then sits on the old crypt, the still gray air around him is a disturbing hue thanks to Stewart; once we turn the page and Mignola's Furies descend, they stand out not only in their unsettling fly-like forms amidst the grey but also in the way their passage leaves dark clouds in its wake. This wouldn't have worked half as well if the panels had been filled with details.
Stewart and Mignola's usage of blood in "Hellboy in Hell" #8 ultimately seals the deal. The river of blood works so well not only because of its rich, almost glowing hue from Stewart, but in the way Mignola winds it through Hell. Following it back to its source looks almost like a slice cut through the world, and seeing what happens next once we've arrived is a perfect counterpoint to the final pages of the comic with Hellboy in the dark, twisted mass of trees. It's a haunting last page, one that lingers long after you've finished the issue.
Any new Hellboy comic is a joy, and "Hellboy in Hell" #8 delivers on its promise. What could have easily been a slight two-parter shows us more of the dark times ahead for Hellboy instead. His sojourn in Hell is just beginning and, clearly, it's full of strong possibilities. It's not a phrase one would say often but I, for one, am looking forward to another trip back to Hell soon, so long as Mignola leads the way.