Hellboy in Love #3 Review

Writer: Christopher Golden

Artist: Matt Smith

Colorist: Chris O’Halloran

Letterer: Clem Robins

Cover Art: Matt Smith

Publisher: Dark Horse

Price: 3.99

Release Date: February 22, 2023

Reviewer: David Dunham

After attending a black-tie reception at Anastasia’s London museum, Hellboy accompanies her to Turkey to investigate the origins of Shadow Puppetry. Can their budding romance survive the horrors of the supernatural? Let’s dig into the mysteries and mayhem in Hellboy in Love #3 and find out!

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Story

Impish archeologist Anastasia likes to get her way. Friends and fellow scientists urge caution in her work and associations, but Anastasia shrugs aside danger. She arouses Hellboy’s interest with witty innuendo and breadcrumbs from her research. Enthralled, he accompanies her to Turkey without knowing the reason for their trip. By the time they reach an excavation site near Bursa, she’s briefed him on what roused her interests. Neither knows what they’ll find there.

Having watched a shadow puppet performance in England, I can imagine how the ancient Turks embraced this unique art form. Set in 1979, a brief interchange with his father underlines Hellboy’s growing maturity. The chemistry between Hellboy and Anastasia eases you through Golden’s story of history, magic, and the supernatural. If only it didn’t end on a cliffhanger!

Art

Characters are appealing and consistently represented. Heavy inking and silhouettes create mood and enliven foreground action. While art can vary widely in Hellboy stories, and this issue lacks a heavy emphasis on occult architectural details, Smith’s representations of Hellboy and other characters remind me of Mike Mignola’s.

Chris O’Halloran’s limited color palette imbues each page with a Bronze Age comic sensibility. The only thing that drew me out of Hellboy in Love #3 was how light variations affected objects and people. While colors usually darkened, sometimes characters take on a blue–or even ultraviolet–cast. I found the differences striking and wondered how Hellboy could rapidly transition from bright red to maroon to ultraviolet. Aside from that, I thought O’Halloran did a fine job.

Clem Robins also gives this comic an old-school vibe with simple upper-case block lettering. Spherical dialogue balloons and rectangular narrative boxes—most with a white background—don’t distract from the story. Colorful sound effects are infrequent and restrained. Thus, when he exaggerates the sound effects and the dialogue balloons, both enhance the sense of danger.

Final Thoughts

After reading trade paperbacks and omnibus editions on Hellboy, the B.P.R.D., and Abe Sapien, I thought I’d read enough of the Mignolaverse. But Hellboy in Love #3 lured me back in, and Hellboy’s engaging relationship with Anastasia also helped the issue stand out. I appreciated how I could jump into the middle of this five-part series, readily identify with characters and their situations, and effortlessly accompany them on an adventure that explores the supernatural dangers of Human imagination.

8.2/10

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