Review: Hellboy: Masks and Monsters

Published on October 26th, 2010

Do you remember about fifteen years ago when Hellboy teamed up with Batman and Starman? And then later Hellboy teamed up with Dark Horse’s Ghost? Well I don’t but when I saw a trade on the shelf with Hellboy and Batman on the cover, I had to buy it. I didn’t just have to buy it, I knew that I had to share this book with all of you and what better way to do that than by dedicating this week’s Trade Tuesday to this awesome book. Hellboy: Masks and Monsters is a collection of two different Hellboy stories, the first one being Batman/Hellboy/Starman #’s 1 & 2 and the second being Ghost/Hellboy #’s 1 & 2.

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Batman/Hellboy/Starman is written by James Robinson and drawn by Mike Mignola. This story starts with Bruce Wayne meeting with the original Starman Ted Knight about his research in alternative energies. Ted Knight is giving a speech when the building is attacked by a group of Nazis and the old man is kidnapped, despite Batman’s attempts to stop it. Later Commissioner Gordon signals Batman and introduces him to Hellboy. Hellboy and Batman track down the Nazis and learn they are from a group known as The Knights of October and that they took the original Starman to the Amazon jungles to help them build a machine to raise an “Elder God” and take over the free world. Batman gets a plane to take them to the Amazon, but unfortunately Batman has to sit out on the trip because the Joker is causing trouble in Gotham again. So Ted Knight’s son and current Starman, Jack joins Hellboy to rescue the original Starman. After a brief flight followed by a hike Hellboy and Starman track down the Knights of October and together the two heroes smash their machine and thanks to an old prayer that Hellboy knows the God is sent back to where it belongs.

Ghost/Hellboy is written by Mike Mignola and penciled by Scott Benefiel. This story starts with a Mob killing in 1939 followed by the killing of a local psychic. Cut to the present where Hellboy is called in to investigate Ghost who has been operating in the same area where the mob killing took place. Hellboy has been brought in to bring in Ghost to work with the B.P.R.D. but she quickly takes a disliking to Hellboy and after a brief confrontation Hellboy crashes through the building into the room where the killings happened, there Hellboy inspects the body and picks up the dead man’s wallet. Then Ghost is brought to another dimension where she meets a mysterious creature in a mask going by the name of Peace. The creature offers to help Ghost in her mission if she brings in Hellboy who has the key (the right hand of doom) to the creature’s freedom. Ghost returns to Earth and immediately attacks Hellboy and brings him to the other dimension. It is then revealed that the masked demon is not the embodiment of peace, but a monster known as Alal The Magnificent. Hellboy and Ghost try to fight the demon, but after getting their butts kicked Hellboy takes out the wallet he found and starts reading all the information he can find in it. We then find out the demon had possessed the spirit of the murdered psychic. After remembering who he was the psychic casts out the demon, but when he tries to take over again the man puts the mask back on, but before Alal can take over Ghost shoots the mask and the psychic in the head. Hellboy and Ghost return to Earth and take their separate ways again.

Both of these comics were originally published pretty early on in Hellboy’s career,  and I really enjoyed both of these stories. The Batman and Starman story was cool, it’s Hellboy fighting Nazis which is never a bad idea. I really liked to see Mignola draw Batman, and even though I’m not familiar with Starman I enjoyed seeing him team up with Hellboy as well. I gotta say even though the way Mignola draws the Joker is really weird, I also thought it was creepy and kind of cool. And I’ve never read a book with Ghost before this, but I thought that was a really cool story as well. Apparently this was the first time somebody besides Mignola drew a Hellboy comic, and I thought  Benefiel did a good job. The only thing that disapointed me about this book was a lack of extras. There’s a few sketches and some of Mignola’s original layouts, but I really would have liked a forward for this book that included how these books came about in the first place. The book lists for $17.99 which is kind of steep for four issues, but Amazon is currently selling the book for only $12.23 which is a more reasonable price.

Ken Zeider
Ken@ComicImpact.com