Strangely, I read two comics this week that dealt heavily with the Irish goddess The Morrigan (this book and "Wonder Woman" #611). Even more strangely, I happen to know a lot about The Morrigan and as a result feel preternaturally qualified to talk about both books. Sadly "Wonder Woman" used The Morrigan solely as an opportunity for a couple of sexy scantily clad ladies to preach unimpressively and do violence, which feels about like business as usual. "Hellboy: The Fury" #1 however, really delves smartly into the idea of The Morrigan through compelling visuals and storytelling.
In this first issue of "Hellboy The Fury," we learn that the powerful sorceress Nimue of Arthurian Legend has been crowned Queen of Witches, only to then declare herself Badhbh Macha (aka The Mor-Rioghain aka The Morrigan) a goddess of war. She's also raised an army. Hellboy, who as a descendent of King Arthur has been proclaimed the rightful king of Britain and given both the legendary sword from the stone and Arthur's long dead army, now risen, leaves the sword and the army at home in order to quest after Nimue and her army alone. The sword, left with Hellboy's girlfriend Alice, then resurrects Arthur in the body of a man who has been waiting for a very long time. With Arthur resurrected, his army is resurrected as well. And just in time, because Hellboy is having an epic battle with The Morrigan and it's not going well.
Mike Mignola's work here is strong, as always. His storytelling is solid and well paced and his writing takes turns being funny, smart, and beautiful, sometimes all three at once. It's no surprise that Mignola knows Hellboy's voice in and out, but it is surprising at how captivating he continues to make the character; Hellboy goes on these epic adventures and is constantly re-invented, without ever losing himself.
The art by Duncan Fegredo and Dave Stewart is simply sublime. The imagery, of gods and kings, ghosts and witches, armies and Hellboy, himself, is powerful and compelling stuff. The art accepts the epic but personal nature of the story and makes it even better: bigger, grander, more emotional. The coloring by Dave Stewart is particularly wonderful, both subtle and evocative all at once. Stewart plunges the reader from darkest darks to brightest whites with a seeming ease that makes the book a delight to experience. The best thing about the art on the whole is just the straight up creativity, the way in which everything is approached from character design to storytelling. Nobody is holding back here, and everyone is insanely talented. This is what good comics should look like.
For anyone that doesn't regularly read Hellboy it should also be noted that the book does an excellent job of bringing potential new readers up to speed. In two easy to read illustrated pages at the start of the issue, readers are given "the story thus far." It's incredibly effective, despite the Hellboy lore being complicated at best. It surely beats retcons, relaunches, and reboots. "Hellboy: The Fury" is a great comic, that despite the character's intricate history makes for a great jumping on point for anyone that has been interested in the character and wanted to take the book for a spin.