In what might be the most mysterious Hellboy spinoff to date, we meet someone new from Hellboy’s past. As the story goes, in 1944, Hellboy was conjured up in a ceremony meant to give Hitler an unbeatable occult weapon. Fortunately for him, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm was there to guide him into becoming a successful paranormal detective instead. But Bruttenholm wasn’t the only one with an eye on the demon boy. A visitor was sent there to kill the Beast, as it was prophesized that he would kill us all. But the visitor let Hellboy live. This is the story of how and why he stayed to watch Hellboy’s progress and growth.
This issue starts with a rather rushed recap of Hellboy’s origin story. In any other comic book, I would be really critical of how hasty this introduction is. But seeing as Hellboy has been around for 24 years now, I think most fans know enough about the origin story to get the picture without too much detail. Besides, this story isn’t even centered on Hellboy himself—it’s all about the Visitor.
We see the Visitor as one of the men at Hellboy’s summoning site. As Professor Bruttenholm speaks with Hellboy, the Visitor slips away to call his own alien race (I know, right?!) and tell them that he cannot kill the Beast (seeing as he’s just a child and has the potential to be good). This Visitor takes one for the team and decides to stick around and stealthily follow Hellboy’s progression from child to adult paranormal investigator. Fair enough; the dude just wants to be safe and make sure Hellboy doesn’t kill everyone.
Mignola and Roberson do an amazing job of justifying the Visitor’s decision. We see Hellboy’s growth from 1944 to ’47, ’48, ’50, ’53, and ’54. Why does this justify the decision? Because Hellboy is immediately humanized. We readers can automatically relate to him because we follow him growing up—something we’ve all done, are doing, and will do for as long as we live. The only thing I’m thinking as of now is how long the Visitor will follow and intervene in Hellboy’s life. Has he been there all along, but we didn’t know until now? Has he secretly helped Hellboy on his missions with the BPRD? Where does this guy come from? What is his race like? What the heck is going to happen?!
Paul Grist’s illustrations really lend to the story’s tone and genre. Keeping with the usual art style that Mignola started Hellboy with, Grist uses a German Expressionism-fueled inspiration for the angular and blocky artwork. From the start of the issue, the Visitor looks different than the other soldiers. Once he disappears from the group, it’s pretty much confirmed that something’s going down.
That’s when we see Bill Crabtree’s pale blue color for the character. For the rest of the issue, the Visitor’s skin tone and clothes look like everyone else’s, but with a small color tweak from Crabtree. So, he always stands out to us, even in his human form. Hellboy’s entrance stands out quite a bit with a bright appearance of red and orange-yellow. It greatly contrasts with the rest of the issue, which was a smart creative choice to show Hellboy’s initial surprising and intimidating impression on the soldiers when summoned. The poetic script and really simplistic-yet-stunning artwork creates a very mystical tone. With a lot of heavy shadows to create a suspenseful tone of anticipation, Grist and Crabtree have done a superb job on the artwork for the premiere issue. I can only imagine what the rest of the series will look like.
This science-fiction bit of Hellboy’s supernatural storyline is something completely unexpected but incredibly intriguing. For longtime fans of Hellboy and new readers alike, this is the perfect read to get your “From the Pages of Hellboy” fix. The Visitor is bound to witness what his race thought couldn’t exist: a demon turned hero. But knowing Hellboy, there are probably going to be tons of obstacles along the way. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m beyond stoked to stick around and see what happens next.
Written by: Mike Mignola & Chris Roberson
Illustrated by: Paul Grist