Take a journey back to Hellboy’s early days in Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land. Stranded on a strange island after a mishap on their way to a South American dig site, Hellboy and Professor Bruttenholm are confronted by all manner of monsters on land, sea, and sky! A stranger who rescues them turns out to be one of Hellboy’s heroes, but they still aren’t as safe as they think they are! An old evil that the island protects is about to reawaken, drawing Hellboy and his new allies into a desperate battle!
This is a classic adventure story in the vein of Indiana Jones that places Hellboy in some new unfamiliar surroundings. Hellboy’s past has been delved into on multiple occasions, but adventures in his young form are a bit rarer. Young Hellboy is a fun deviation from the more serious and darker Hellboy stories that have been recently released. Hellboy himself is vastly different from the cynical adult version readers will be familiar with. Possessing an infectious enthusiasm, it is a treat seeing a young immature version of Hellboy discovering new corners of the world. We also have his mentor and father figure Professor Bruttenholm along for the ride to bring the readers and Hellboy up to speed on the academic side of things. Not only is he a great foil to the younger wide-eyed Hellboy, but it also gives readers an opportunity to further see how the bond was formed between the two.
The storytelling style also takes a different approach from classic Hellboy comics. Whilst largely an action series, Hellboy would also focus on darker dramatic moments too. Young Hellboy however constantly keeps the energy at a high level with plenty of action sequences and funny moments that gives this series an undeniable charm. This also allows for the characterisation to really shine through and lets readers see Hellboy in a new light. As Hellboy’s creator, Mike Mignola obviously has a firm understanding on his character. But he also has a strong co-writer in Thomas E. Sniegoski for Young Hellboy who proves to have a strong grasp of the character even in this relatively unfamiliar setting.
Craig Rousseau is a perfect choice on the art front. This is a series that requires a lot of energy and he provides more than enough. His young version of Hellboy is fantastic and exactly what you’d expect for a mischievous take on the character. Regular Hellboy colourist Dave Stewart is also dependably great, having lightened his usual darker colour palette for this more vibrant toned series.
Hellboy completists will relish in this chance to see a rarely touched upon part of the character’s timeline. To make it even better, this a strong adventure comic that more than stands on its own.
Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land is out now from Dark Horse (9781506723983, p/b, £20.99)
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