Dinosaurs rule. It’s just an objective truth of the universe. Everyone loves dinosaurs. Kids love dinosaurs, adults love dinosaurs and pretend not to, it’s just a simple fact. So, honestly, it’s pretty easy to sell me on a comic that involves both Hellboy, who rules, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex, which also rules.
I’ve talked before how Hellboy is fundamentally a genre pastiche. The mainline Hellboy comics are, essentially, Lovecraft by way of Jack Kirby. Hellboy is Etrigan with the personality of Dan Turpin or Ben Grimm, and he fights C’thulhu. Young Hellboy is a genre pastiche as well, but as befits an event happening before Hellboy proper, it’s a pastiche of older stories. Hellboy himself is out of a Boy’s Own Adventure, but the island is like something out of a Hollow Earth, Land That Time Forgot story. The ‘Sky Devil’ is simultaneously a classic aviation hero, a Sheena-style Jungle Girl, and a King Kong. The villain is half a mummy and half a vampire, and yet still compliant with the Hyperborean mythos of Mignola’s story.
Young Hellboy moves very fast, introducing ideas and discarding them mere pages later. Mignola and his co-writer, Thomas Sniegowski, are moving very quickly. In a sense, it imitates the frenetic pace of the genres it’s homaging, scarcely stopping to take a breath. And I’d argue that’s good for this book. Hellboy is not, and has never been, a talky comic. It’s a book about a demon punching a monster in the face, and a book about monkeys with guns. You know what you get with Hellboy, and Young Hellboy #2 isn’t breaking barriers here.
I’ve come around on Craig Stewart’s art with Dave Stewart’s colors, as well. Mignola’s art defines Hellboy, but is heavily defined by his blacks – it’s a baroque chiaroscuro, heavy blacks over simple line work. Stewart’s art is similar, in that it has simple, clean line work, but Stewart’s colors are so bright and clear that the entire book manages to feel like a second cousin to proper Hellboy.
This isn’t perfect. The fact that the natives are literally monkeys is iffy, for instance, as is the gratuitous nudity. But for a Young Hellboy story, it is a very good one.
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