With Hellboy Winter Special 2019 hitting shelves this week, readers get the chance to delve back into the Mignolaverse. We see a miserly ghost given a second chance in the afterlife. Then we meet a twisted older man whose greed takes over him in a bloody climax. And we see men of God on a mission to stop an evil that may be more innocent than they expect. This particular winter special focuses on one of the things that make Hellboy such a moving series: the idea of redemption.
From its very premise, Hellboy and its titular character represent redemption. Hellboy is a demon from hell, summoned by Nazis to win the war. Yet Hellboy is our hero. The fact that he is a demon or Nazi-spawned, doesn’t stop Hellboy creator Mike Mignola from pushing us to believe in his humanity. By presenting us with the most maligned characters who feel deeply and love purely, and hiding evil in the most normal places, Mignola dares us to read books beyond their covers.
Ghosts, demons, monsters, and witches often find themselves in difficult circumstances in Mignola’s series. Circumstances of their own design. But even beyond damnation and consequences, their humanity outweighs their sins. Mignola supposes that perhaps the most human thing of all is to have a conscience. We may be tempted, even subdued, but it’s in the quiet moments when no one expects us to bounce back from our wicked ways, that our small acts of goodness send the monsters screaming.
Much of what Hellboy also deals with is the normalcy of evil. There is many an issue where it seems that it is Hellboy against the evil hordes of the world. And as I’ve mentioned, much of the evil is represented through ghouls and goblins. But the most sinister evils are always found in the most commonplace spots: Gentlemen’s clubs and board room meetings. The big baddies of this series and the companion series BPRD are, after all, a little girl and a monk.
So while Hellboy acts as an inspiration, it also acts as a parable to avoid evil. It warns us that evil most often creeps in through our wallets or our bitterness, rather than through witches and warlocks. But while we may commit evil acts, and surely we will, we are never beyond redemption. Mignola depicts the vilest creatures as having flutters of contrition. And if you still have a conscience, there’s always hope.
Pick up Hellboy Winter Special 2019 at your local comic book shop Wednesday, January 15th 2020.