A fun and intriguing winter romp that makes itself fit in the larger Hellboy story while still being a great standalone tale.

Review: HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL: THE YULE CAT – A Helluva Holiday Hairball

From Matt Smith (Folklords) comes a new Hellboy holiday tale complete with snow and giant cats in Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat. Featuring colors by Chris O’Halloran and lettering by Hellboy veteran Clem Robins, this year’s supernatural Christmas story is a ton of fun just as a standalone comic, but like any good Mignolaverse piece it’s clearly a part of a larger whole. With a great blend of action and mythology and fantastic, eerie visual, this is a great one-shot to pair with a fireside mug of spiked Christmas Eve cocoa.

“Hellboy travels to Reykjavik, where children are disappearing and a giant beast has been spotted . . . could it be the infamous Yule Cat of Icelandic lore?”

Writing & Plot

Matt Smith has been quickly rising in the ranks of Hellboy storytellers, and Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat is a perfect example of why. His work on Bones of Giants, Young Hellboy, and Hellboy in Love has proven that Smith knows how to blend the mythology, humor, and overarching mystery of the Mignolaverse in every one of his comics. The Yule Cat takes our big red paranormal investigator to Iceland, where a local myth has supposedly come to life. A giant spectral cat stalks the Icelandic night just before the holidays, and it’s up to HB to find out what it wants – then punch the crap out of it. However, as per usual, things are not what they seem – and there’s much more to our feline friend than meets the eye. Smith’s core story here is mysterious and compelling, providing just as many questions as answers as the plot progresses. Smith ties Yule Cat to his prior work in Bones of Giants neatly, but there’s no need to have read that story to understand what’s going on here. Just like every great Mignolaverse story, there are hints of what came before and what is still to come, but this is still a great story to read on its own. Smith nails HB’s personality through his interactions with others and his casual attitude towards eldritch abnormalities. Yule Cat, as with all other Hellboy comics, paint a partial picture of a web of mythology that is older and more powerful than can be imagined. What’s so good about Hellboy as a character is that he treats that truth like it’s his 9 to 5 desk job – because it is.

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Art Direction

Matt Smith follow’s the Mignola visual formula while maintaining his own style in Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat. Every artist that has worked on a Hellboy or B.P.R.D. comic has emulated Mike Mignola’s style in some way – it’s how the whole universe has maintained a consistent feel. Smith is one of the best to do it. At first glance, Yule Cat looks like it was in fact drawn by Mignola himself. A moment’s inspection, however, reveals the details that set the two artists apart. Smith has less of a reliance on heavy inks and utilizes thinner linework, using more hatching for character details and atmosphere. His versions of both the classic Hellboy cast as well as the mythological beings that show up in the comic are brought to life with a signature series of unique features and animations. This not only makes the comic feel more like a part of this larger and artistically sound universe, but helps Smith establish his visual style. He crafts some truly mesmerizing otherworldly scenes during HB’s investigation that clash with his equally great normal town drawings.

Chris O’Halloran’s color art also mirrors the aesthetic of other Mignolaverse books, but still manages to keep this comic looking original. The dull grey and white of an Icelandic winter casts a filter over the traditional colors of the small town HB is visiting. Flashes of unnatural light and the mystical haze that consume the climactic sequences perfect the reading experience as they pull the reader into the strange realm that this story inhabits. Clem Robins’ lettering is a stellar as always, with his unique hand guiding the reader along from HB’s snide remarks to the off-kilter incantations of ancient beings in numerous font styles. Hellboy: The Yule Cat is a comic that visually stands tall among its acclaimed and iconic peers.


Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat is a delightfully mysterious and fun one-shot entry into the Hellboy mythos. Matt Smith’s writing and visual storytelling sensibilities capture everything great about Mignolaverse comics, while maintaining his own style while playing in this well-established universe. Chris O’Halloran’s color art perfects the atmosphere and pulls readers in effortlessly to this paranormal holiday mystery. Be sure to grab this issue when it hits shelves on December 6th!


Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.
A fun and intriguing winter romp that makes itself fit in the larger Hellboy story while still being a great standalone tale.Review: HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL: THE YULE CAT - A Helluva Holiday Hairball