Review: The 'Hellboy Winter Special' Is a Terrifyingly Terrific Tale

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(Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

Somebody wise once said that fear is one of the most important emotions a human can feel — the mastery of fear a real virtue. The problem with fear is that it can pop up at any given point in life, no matter the time, date, or location. And that much is evident in this year's annual Hellboy Winter Special. Featuring three stories with three different creative teams, readers are immersed in horror tales in three completely different time periods and locales.

From the moment you see the first page, Ben Stenbeck's dreary art does a perfect job of setting the tone of the first of three stories in this year's special. Though dealing with demons and the supernatural, Mike Mignola is able to make "Happy New Year, Ava Galluci" all too relatable, especially as we inch closer to the holidays. Hellboy finds himself in a situation where his dinner party ultimately decides to perform a seance, and it goes just about as well as one would expect, creating a situation that's both humorous and horrifying. With party guests that have had one too many drinks, the situation ends up being very reminiscent of the stereotypical holiday party, even though I'm fairly sure none of us have attended a soiree with a demon on the guest list.

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(Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

While the Mignola-written short story is the clear winner of the special, the following two stories aren't far behind. "Lost Ones" features the tag-team duo of Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, and at once the coloring made me feel as if I were among the vampires in the woods. Though the action is basically non-existent, the beautifully crafted dialogue creates an intense situation where the tension is palpable.

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(Photo: Dark Horse Comics)

Tonci Zonjic pulls double duty on "The Empty Chair," both writing and drawing the Depression Era short story featuring Lobster Johnson. The quickest read of the issue at five pages, the last story is the lone tale to not feature the issue's titular character, and it's rather obvious. Though it does feature a gnarly Killer Santa Claus, the story ends up feeling a bit stagnant.

It should be noted that Clem Robbins does a fantastic job of lettering all three of the short stories, making it a rather easy transition between the tales. Though lettering horror stories, Robins' style isn't too serious, reminding us that we are still reading a comic book, after all.

Instead of creating some one-dimensional horror freakshow to shove down the throats of Hellboy readers, Mignola and company are able to craft tales that contain plenty of humanity and depth. In the annual tradition of making the holiday season a little more sinister, the creative teams assembled on this Hellboy Winter Special hit their stride as they craft tales perfect for the season.

Published by Dark Horse Comics

On December 12, 2018

Written by Mike Mignola, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba, Tonci Zonjic

Art by Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba, Tonci Zonjic, Ben Stenbeck

Colors by Tonci Zonjic, Dave Stewart

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Letters by Clem Robins

Cover by Mike Mignola