Saturday, 22 January 2011

Review - Hellboy / Beasts of Burden: Sacrifice

This Hellboy / Beasts of Burden one-shot is really more of a Beasts of Burden comic than a Hellboy comic. It is written and illustrated by Beasts of Burden creators Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, with minimal input from Mike Mignola, and the story carries on directly from the end of the recent Beasts of Burden mini-series, as collected in the excellent Animal Rites hardcover. And that’s fine by me because, as much as I like Hellboy, I bought this for the Beasts of Burden, a bunch of neighbourhood dogs (and two cats) who investigate the paranormal in a place called Burden Hill.

The story here starts with Hellboy being lured to Burden Hill by one of the ‘wise dogs’, heads of a society of canine (and feline) paranormal investigators in which the ‘beasts’ are junior apprentices, and the action starts pretty much right away, with our heroes tackling some of the ‘skull golems’ they fought in the last issue of the Beasts of Burden mini-series, this time led by the girlfriend of their previous master.

As Hellboy is also a paranormal investigator, these two properties are a natural / obvious fit, ripe for a team-up, and fair play to Mike Mignola for lending his more-popular character to Dorkin and Thompson in an effort to expose the Beasts of Burden to the wider audience they deserve. Despite Hellboy’s mighty presence here, the real stars of the show are the Beasts of Burden, and particularly grouchy pug dog Pugs, who provides lots of laughs and inadvertently saves the day.

This didn’t work perfectly as a one-shot, what with the story being a continuation of the wider Beasts of Burden storyline, but it was still good stuff. It was well-written, beautifully painted and hopefully it will do its job and make some Hellboy fans check out that Beasts of Burden hardcover and any future Beasts of Burden comics.

My confession: Blog rules state that I am not allowed to pay more than £1.20 including postage for any comic published by a company with a Diamond exclusive distribution deal. I broke blog rules and bought this on eBay for £2.30 including postage (because I was worried that I would never be able to get a copy for £1.20, because I knew it would be quite a while before it got collected somewhere, and because I wanted to show my support for the Beasts of Burden) but I am prepared to overlook this incident if you are.

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