Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hellboy: Conqueror Worm, a Review

Hellboy Volume 5: Conqueror Worm returns to the narrative story of Hellboy and the BPRD after a few issues of short, folk stories. Hellboy, along with Roger the Homunculus, gets a new mission to go to a haunted castle in Germany and see what's going on. Apparently a Nazi space capsule is headed right for it, and Hellboy needs to stop whatever evil plans are in store.

This book is a beautiful story in the Hellboy universe. Right from the beginning, with the opening lines taken from Poe's "Ligeia" and "Conqueror Worm," the mesmerizing art of Mignola's book sucks the reader in. The creepy context of the mission is hair-raising, and the subtle shades of dark in the black backgrounds--a skull here, a gargoyle there--add to the experience of reading in the Hellboy universe.

Apart from the exceptional artwork, the plot is relentless. Some base knowledge of events prior make Conqueror Worm a deeper read, but I think this would be fine for new readers as well. I found the Nazi involvement and the twisted scientists completely believable. I loved the exposition that spanned the first few pages. The climax was intense, and the resolution satisfying.

In addition to the plot, the character building was great. I loved the relationship between Hellboy and Roger, as well as Hellboy and his boss at the BPRD. And what's not explicitly stated in dialogue is more than obvious in the art. You can see Hellboy's displeasure from his scowl, or his anger in his slitted eyes. I also liked the side characters, especially Lobster Johnson.

Really, Conqueror Worm is probably my favorite Hellboy graphic novel I've read as of yet. Every panel is lovingly cared for, with attention focused where it needs to be, whether its in the foreground or the background. I can't recommend this series enough, and I can't wait to dive into Volume 6.


contemplatrix said...

hmmm, have not cracked the cover of a Hellboy comic.. (seen the films, though, and liked them)..

Is there a constancy in the art throughout the volumes?


logankstewart said...

The comics are great, especially if you love Gothic-Lovecraftian/Poe horror and global folklore & myth. I own Hellboy 2, but I've not watched it, nor the first film, either.

Mike Mignola does art from Volumes 1-6, so that's consistent. I believe the rest is still rather consistent with the first volumes, but I'm not certain. I can't imagine Dark Horse granting permission for such a stylized change though.

Carl V. said...

Conqueror Worm is a really fantastic volume from the Hellboy storyline. As I've said in the past, I am so glad that you are reading these and am psyched that you are having the same positive reaction to them that I did the first time I read them. The great thing about them is that they are so re-readable too. This is one of my favorite E.A. Poe poems as well and for the past 4 years my Fantasy Football team has been named the Conqueror Worms.

logankstewart said...

@Carl: So far, I've not thought they could get any better, but each volume leaves me wanting more. I hopefully will have up a review for Volume 6 & 7 this week or next. I've got up through 10 in my possession now, and would like to get them all read 'ere the New Year.

Conqueror Worms is a great fantasy league team name, by the way.