There Is Reason to the Rhyme
Issue 52 of Hellboy is the second part of a two part series titled 'The Sleeping and the Dead.' Mike Mignola continues to weave wonderful tales of Hellboy's past that will enchant and delight fans of the character. With fantastic art by Scott Hampton, this conclusion to the two part story will keep you at the edge of your seat.
At no point do I get tired of reading Mike Mignola's Hellboy, and this issue is no different. The second part of a two part story makes for really easy and light reading. Additionally, the creative team does a fantastic job keeping these stories self contained in well articulated and beautifully delivered little packages. There is a very smooth transition from issue 51 into this one. Hellboy picks up where he left off in the last issue fighting off a very dead and seemingly possessed zombie creature- rather unsuccessfully, I might add. In 'Hellboy fashion' he accidentally stumbles upon a solution, breaking the barrier that has separated the zombie creature from her enemy (a vampire) for years.
The great thing about Mignola is the way he organizes his pages for the artist. For example: the first page contains four panels, each panel focuses on a specific object or theme that is somehow heavily tied into the overall premise of his story. The delivery is choppy and erratic- but not in a bad way. The four panels are tied together by a famous English nursery rhyme, 'Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary' (which with a little research you will discover was first published in 18th Century England. This style we see on the first page is consistently used throughout the story. Rather than using a narrator, Mignola uses English nursery rhymes, proverbs and poems to tell his story ('Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary,' 'Who Killed Cock Robin,' 'As I Was Going To St. Ives.'). At least two of the nursery rhymes used in the story are were made popular in 18th Century England, so it is implied that the creature reciting them existed during that time. There is just something so intriguing to me about using these proverbs and nursery rhymes to tell the story. However, had Mignola not had artist Scott Hampton to tie the panels and narration together with his brilliant art, I don't think the reading experience would have been nearly as enjoyable. Not only do you have fantastic, gothic art; but you have panels that focus specifically on objects important to the story's overall theme. This is a very well executed book.
I have no bad things to say about this issue.
Sometimes you don't realize how good a comic is until you stop and think about the details of the story you have just read, and how the little things impacted your reading experience. Initially, I would have given the book a 4 out of 5, but I stopped, went back, and re-read the story. It is only when I did this that I realized how important the details in the art weighed on my reading experience. This is a brilliant story- not only because the premise itself is interesting, but more importantly in the way the story itself is told. It deserves nothing less than a perfect score.