Goosebumps. I got actual, physical goosebumps reading Hellboy: The Storm and the Fury. And not just once, but several times. Do you know how long it has been since I got so involved in a comic that it gave me actual goosebumps?
That is the power of The Storm and the Fury. Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo and Dave Stewart tapped into some serious cultural roots, hitting that deep vein of mythology that connects our psyche. The Once and Future King rises again. The Champion of Man battles the Dragon in single combat above the fields of Vigrid. This is Joseph Campbell stuff. This is the kind of comic that is accompanied by a constantly running Wagner soundtrack whether you like it or not.
The culmination of everything Mike Mignola has been writing since his first issue of Hellboy, The Storm and the Fury is the big finale. All of those little dots have been connected; the lilies that rise from Hellboy's blood. The struggle for power amongst the witch queens. The fairy-touched Alice Monaghan who became Hellboy's lover. The pig-faced Gruagach of Lough Leane whose desire for petty revenge has brought about the end of the world. And the Dragon, the Ogdru Jahad.
But even while The Storm and the Fury plays out on this massive, epic scale, Mignola never loses that personal quality that makes Hellboy such an amazing comic. Because this is more than just the culmination of collected storylines, this is the endpoint of Hellboy's struggle for his own identity. Hellboy was born into the world carrying the weight of many prophecies: He is the Beast of the Apocalypse, whose arrival signals the end of the world. He is the rightful King of Britain, and he has but to take up Excalibur and lead the noble armies of the British dead to victory. But Hellboy rejects both of these paths in favor of forging his own, even though that path could lead to his own death and the ruin of all. Hellboy will not be anyone's pawn of prophecy, for the Light or the Dark.
Mike Mignola does some of the best writing of his career in The Storm and the Fury. There are so many great lines, so many fantastic moments. I was captivated by his portrayal of the resurrected King Arthur, another pawn of prophecy who has no control over his own melancholy existence. "King for a day. That's all he was. All he was ever going to be…"
Duncan Fegredo was nominated for an Eisner Award for his art in The Storm and The Fury, and it is easy to see why. His contribution allowed for a much different story than if Mignola had drawn the series himself. Fegredo has an eye for epic scale that Mignola doesn't, which was apparent in the massed battle scene. And he can mimic Mignola's style when he has to; the Dragon Ogdru Jahad was pure Mignola. And while the King of Colors Dave Stewart is not as inventive with his palette here as he is with Baltimore: The Curse Bells, he still takes Fegredo's artwork and elevates it in a way that no other colorist in the industry can.
The Storm and the Fury is the end of a phase of Hellboy's life, but not the end of Hellboy. Since this series Mignola and Richard Corben have been amusing us with little vignettes of Mexican wrestlers and Hellboy, but soon with the next series Mignola will take on the drawing chores again to give us Hellboy in Hell.
Zack Davisson is a freelance writer and life-long comics fan. He owned a comic shop in Seattle during the '90s, during which time he had the glorious (and unpaid) gig as pop-culture expert for NPR. He has lived in three countries, has degrees in Fine Art and Japanese Studies, and has been a contributing writer to magazines like Japanzine and Kansai Time-Out. He currently lives in Seattle, WA with his wife Miyuki. You can catch more of Zack’s reviews on his blog Japan Reviewed or read his translations of Japanese ghost stories on Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai.