Gotta admit: I much never cared for HELLBOY. Don’t hate me. As it is, I’ve been reading comics for over forty years, so something was bound just to not sit well with me. I couldn’t say that there was any particular reason for it; I guess it’s just that the world and characters crafted by Mike Mignola never much interested me in the way it does other readers. Still, I can appreciate a job well done, and Mignola receives as much credit as he deserves for crafting such a singular creation … and now Hellboy and his friends and enemies have found new life in the form of some wonderfully inspired kids’ adaptation that’s going under the moniker of ITTY BITTY HELLBOY.
And, yeah, it’s something special!
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Storywise, there really isn’t much to chat up here, and there’s certainly very little to ‘spoil.’ The conceit is what’s so charming – take a character who traffics in some of the darkest of places and re-jigger him for young readers … and I do mean EXTREMELY young readers. This take is decidedly pre-K if I do say so myself, and I’d honestly imagine some young souls who’ve found Hellboy by way of his big budget motion pictures might delight when they see his foray into a world much more to their liking. In fact, I’d argue that even big folks who’ve scrounged around for every Hellboy adventure in print might even fancy this bold, new interpretation if for no other reason than it effectively skewers all of that darkness in favor of showing Hellboy just having a good time. He’s pulling pranks. He’s mixing it up. He’s even swimming in the kiddie pool! The mood is bright and sunny – a stark contrast to his usual fare – and I found myself smiling as I made my way through these charming pages.
Granted, I wouldn’t want to see Hellboy release his hold on all things … erm … hellish … but ITTY BITTY HELLBOY is a fine demonstration that not all heroes need massive amounts of subtext to have a good day or a great time!
ITTY BITTY HELLBOY (Part 1 of 5) is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Art Baltazar and Franco, with Baltazar doing double-duty as the sketch artist. It’s affordably priced at $2.99, and that’s indeed a bargain for a book in this day and age.
RECOMMENDED. This issue – basically it’s a series of shorts around the core group of characters from HELLBOY – is probably something special for those ‘in’ on the joke, meaning that they’re familiar with Mike Mignola’s seminal character and universe. Those of us on the outside – either intentionally or unintentionally – might get a few, harmless chuckles out of its few, harmless illustrations and vignettes. Still, kudos to all involved for actually linking these smaller tales together, albeit loosely, but it shows a respect to those of us who like tales with continuity.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with a digital copy of ITTY BITTY HELLBOY (Part 1 of 5) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
What did you think of this review?