Giants. Witches. Legions of fey creatures assembled by the Gruagach of Lough Leane, crying for human blood. The sorceress Nimue, who once trapped Merlin and stole his powers, transformed from corpse to Witch Queen to Badhbh Macca Mor-Rioghain, the Goddess of War. The sword Excalibur risen again. And Hellboy.
After a handful of self-contained Hellboy one-shots, Mike Mignola at last delivers the long-awaited Hellboy: The Fury #1. Ostensibly the climax to a story arc that began in 2007’s Darkness Calls, really The Fury puts the finishing touch on every Hellboy story up to this point, all the way from Seed of Destruction. Mignola has said that The Fury is the end of the first phase of Hellboy’s life. This is the Big One.
The Fury is big in more ways than one. While Hellboy stories are usually more personal affairs, Mignola has gone epic with the assembled forces of darkness. The fairies, giants and witches amass in numbers uncountable. All of the dark things of the world have crawled up from their bogs and hidey-holes to stand together in one final push of revenge against the humans who displaced them. The forces of light tap Hellboy to stand against them, but Hellboy is no general, no leader of armies. In The Storm, he left behind Excalibur and rejected his destiny as the rightful King of Britain in the same way that he rejected being the Beast of the Apocalypse or the King of Witches. Instead, Hellboy being Hellboy, he keeps it personal and sells his eye to the Russian deity Baba Yaga in order to confront Nimue directly. What he finds, however, is that Nimue was little more than a pawn of something greater, something that has been moving towards Hellboy since the day he was born.
Mignola had a few surprises up his sleeve for The Fury. I don’t want to give away anything, but Hellboy’s confrontation with Nimue was a welcome shock. Alice Monaghan also has a destiny of her own. She was maneuvered into this conflict as more than just Hellboy’s lover. It seems the Universe is sick of Hellboy shunning his roles, and reserves are being called in. I have always thought that Hellboy could only reject his destiny for so long, and it seems that I was right. As Nimue tells Hellboy in the final pages “Whatever you were meant to be, you’ve come too late.”
With several series under their belts, Mignola, artist Duncan Fegredo and colorist Dave Stewart have achieved a perfect symbiosis of style. I used to be opposed to any non-Mignola drawn Hellboy, but I’ve come to my senses and now Fegredo’s Hellboy is as real to me as Mignola’s. And Fergredo excels at scenes that Mignola couldn’t have done — the massed armies, for example, or Hellboy’s battle with the minions in Nimue’s castle; both of these scenes benefit from Fegredo, who is better at drawing scenes with multiple figures. Dave Stewart, as always, keeps the series in continuity with his coloring, allowing Fefredo’s art to carry the same tone as Mignola’s.
If there are any flaws to The Fury #1, it is that this issue is mostly stage-setting. Rather than an action-packed clash of armies (which promises to come later), here the various players take their positions on the field, building the tension and danger. I also thought Alice Monaghan’s reveal to be a bit too non sequitur. I will have to go back to some of my older issues and see if Mignola left any clues that I missed, but the sudden appearance of a new character in the middle of such an important issue felt out of place. The Fury should be all about conclusion, not introduction.
Ray Tate also reviewed Hellboy: The Fury #1. Read his thoughts, too!