Hellboy visits the baby that he saved years ago from being switched with a changeling. She's matured into an enchanting Irishwoman, and the sparks between the two fly off naturally paced dialogue. Mignola measures every word spoken. He times pauses to allow the reader to feel the impact of what was said. He makes the talk relevant to the plot, and at the same time he uses speech to draw the characters together.
Duncan Fegredo aids Mignola by imbuing realistic gestures to "the girl." She brushes back her hair in one panel, a tell-tale sign that she likes the other conversant. He creates through her an illusion of eye contact with Hellboy that strengthens the growing bond. Even when Hellboy isn’t featured in the panel, she looks up at him. Her face wrinkles and crinkles giving her an even greater illusion of being flesh and blood.
Fegredo contrasts "the girl" against Hellboy's cartoonish mien. He none the less makes Hellboy just as expressive while staying true to Mignola's design. Fegredo accomplishes this by taking advantage of that design's simplicity. A judicious line here and there, the lowering of Hellboy’s head speaks volumes.
As the story continues, the physical propinquity of Hellboy and "the girl" becomes notable. There's more than just a practical rationale in this element of the artwork. The panels tie together Hellboy's and "the girl's" fates. The soft touch she gives to his massive stone arm is the result of their relationship's evolution.
It would be easy to dismiss the rest of Hellboy after being so captivated by the first half of the book, but even when the focus shifts, Mignola and Fegredo make the new Queen of the Witches memorable. Her ethereal sounding dialogue and her body language draw you into this darker area of the story. Dave Stewart cloaks her in deep red, which stands out amid a field of sepia and gray. For the conversation, Stewart used similar muted colors and one splash of shocking red to bestow a warm atmosphere.
The subtlety of the dialogue between Hellboy and “the girl” hooks you into the interplay. Thanks to Mignola’s beautifully considered phrases and Fegredo’s attractive character building, this “girl” becomes so substantial that she doesn’t even need to be named to facilitate the feeling that she has depth.
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