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Review: Itty Bitty Hellboy #1, King Conan: Hour of the Dragon #4, Mind MGMT #14, The Massive #15

Itty Bitty Hellboy #1

23936A ghost named Rasputin has been spotted! And Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. are going to find out what he’s up to.

Who is Hellboy anyway? Why does he have such a big hand and what is it used for? Who’s weirder, him or his friends? What is the B.P.R.D.? And what does chicken soup have to do with all of it? This and more answered in the debut issue, where BIG things happen to itty bitty Hellboy!

You know what I haven’t been thinking? That Hellboy needs a version for the kiddies. But, Art Baltazar and Franco bring their magic to this five issue mini-series and make the case that this is in fact exactly what we needed in this first issue that brings humor and fun for the whole family to the horror franchise.

You might know this dynamic creative duo from Tiny Titans, Superman Family Adventures, and Aw Yeah Comics, but they’re taking their talents and much like they spun previous DC characters, re-imagining Mike Mignola‘s creations with a younger bent.

Made up of a few short comics, the stories are funny, cut and quite entertaining. I’ve never read their previous work of this type, so I had no idea what to expect when I dove in, but I was pleasantly surprised. The characters are distilled to their basic selves, exaggerating their interests and motivations. Battles over forts is broken up by other shorts that usually spotlight some feature of a character.

Overall, this is a great all-ages comic, fantastic for both adults and kids. There’s great humor which is matched by awesome artwork.

When your child that’s too young demands to start reading your Hellboy comics, put this in front of them instead, they’ll probably leave you alone at that point and choose this instead.

Story: Art Baltazar, Franco Art: Art Baltazar
Story: 8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

King Conan: Hour of the Dragon #4

22194Betrayed, deposed, and in hiding, Conan rides for his old capital of Tarantia with bloody vengeance in his heart—but the devious wizard Xaltotun has spies in the sky and soldiers on the ground. The solitary barbarian is forced to seek counsel from an unlikely ally . . . who has a few beastly servants of her own!

I’m fairly new to the whole Conan universe. I’ve watched the cheesy 80s movies, but have never read a book with the character or a comic until Brian Wood took over. So, with my enjoying Wood’s series, I dove into this mini-series also by Dark Horse and four issues in, I can only say “holy crap is it good” and I’m quickly becoming a Conan fan.

This series has an old and tired Conan reflecting on his great adventure where he lost and had to fight back to regain his crown. Yes, this Conan is a king, settled down with a land of people of his own, and ones he feels responsible for. Its fantastic writing with the voice of the young and old Conan being slightly different as you’d expect with the gain of wisdom through age.

The action is fierce and pacing fantastic as Conan battles the onslaught thrown at him, and even the quietest moments are filled with tension and suspense. And with two more issues to go, I have no idea how the series will wrap up in the end.

On top of the fantastic writing by Timothy Truman, there’s the art by Tomás Giorello which is breathtaking, but he has help by colorist José Villarrubia whose use of colors matches the pencils they’re laid over. The comic story wise is exciting, and it’s matched in that excitement by the art. It’s a fantastic pairing of writer and artists.

While I consider myself still new to Conan, between this and Dark Horse’s ongoing series, I’m quickly becoming a fan. So much so, I’m deciding where to start when it comes to finding out what I’ve been missing.

Story: Timothy Truman Art: Tomás Giorello
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Mind MGMT #14

23542What you don’t know about Meru could just about fit in this issue!

Are you reading Mind MGMT? The bigger question is, if you’re not why aren’t you? Matt Kindt continues to show off why he’s one of the best writer/artists out there right now, pulling double duty with each issue.

The series gets back to focus on Meru and the mystery of her past and what happened in Zanzibar. And that’s part of the enjoyment of the series, you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. This is an ever twisting mystery full of crazy characters with amazing powers, each more unique than the next. At this point, I’m not even sure who really is a good guy and who is the bad guy. Kindt has kept us on the edge giving us twists and turns with each issue that makes you question what comes before.

This is more than a comic, it’s a mind bending tale where you don’t know what’s real and what’s not.

Kindt’s art is amazing with his beautiful water-color like style. It evokes something I’d expect out of the 60s or 70s, and is unique and a signature of his. It reminds me of Aha’s Take on Me Video, and that’s a massive compliment.

This issue dives right back into the our main storyline barreling towards something, I’m not sure what. As a reader I’m constantly evaluating every detail, from words chosen, the art on the page, to the details around the pages in the margins. I feel like everything has a hint as to what’s real and what’s not in this series. It really engages me as a reader.

Overall Mind MGMT is one of the crown jewels in Dark Horse’s cap and a maxi-series unlike any other. This should be on everyone’s list to read and I fully expect it to top numerous best of lists when the year ends.

Story: Matt Kindt Art: Matt Kindt
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

The Massive #15

22507Ninth Wave’s presence within the United States’ now-sunken borders has caused a disruption that a rogue US Navy battle group plans to end. Mismatched and outnumbered by a fleet of larger ships, the crew of Kapital must rely on the unexpected aid of a rogue member of Ninth Wave in the explosive conclusion to Brian Wood’s comic book return to New York City.

Americana has given us a glimpse of just a bit of what’s happened to America post collapse and all of that was wrapped in a tale involving nuclear brinkmanship in a game of cat and mouse.

I’ll admit, I’m still sorting through that ending, but the build up to it, I had no idea what was going to happen in a world already in meltdown. I’m pretty sure Wood was willing to drive it further into chaos the way this chapter was going. But even with that focus on the tense stand-off between the US’s rogue Navy battle group, Ninth Wave and a nuclear sub, the focus is still on the crew of the Kaptial.

Throughout this entire series so far, the most amazing thing is the myriad and unique characters Wood has come up with. His series has shown us motivation, drive, ambition, interactions really do differ with every character, especially when they have such a varied background. And when it’s all over, the machinations and maneuvering that’s been leading up to this issue are only going to get worse. Everyone seems to have a secret here and willing to hold those over each other.

The ending of this issue is a little muddled and confusing, but everything leading up to it was absolutely amazing and intense. This continues to be one of the best comics out there by any publisher.

Story: Brian Wood Art: Garry Brown
Story: 8 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review