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Hellboy Vol 3: The Chained Coffin and Others

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hellboy Vol 3: The Chained Coffin and Others (1998) Mike Mignola

Unlike the previous two volumes, which were along the lines of novellas, The Chained Coffin and Others is a collection of Hellboy short stories. As I’m a big fan of short stories, I really enjoyed this collection.

And as a fan of folktales and folk lore, the fact that many of the stories were based on folktales or creatures of folk lore was icing on the cake.

The stories appear in chronological order, the first set in 1959 and the last set immediately after the events of Vol 1: Seeds of Destruction. The first story, “The Corpse”, is a retelling of an Irish folk tale, and the second story, “Iron Shoes”, also has the feel of an Irish folktale. Both are brief and fun.

The third tale, “Baba Yaga”, is referred to in Wake the Devil. What I particularly liked about this tale was that Baba Yaga is neither good nor evil here, but simply a creature of Russian folklore. I don’t think I explained that well, but in folklore Baba Yaga isn’t necessarily a creature of evil, she simply is. And this story does a good job (for me) of matching the tone of some of the Baba Yaga stories.

“The Chained Coffin” (the story for which this collection was named) is an origin story for Hellboy, and isn’t a very happy one (even though I knew how things had to turn out, I still felt bad.)

“Almost Colossus” is the closing tale for the volume, and describes how Liz got her powers back (and didn’t die, despite the initial wishes of Mike Mignola.) I particularly enjoy this story, and seeing the homunculus on his own terms, instead of as simply a creature of doom and destruction.

This volume brings to mind a question though: Why is Hellboy always so willing to assume the worst in others? In both “Baba Yaga” and “Almost Colossus” Hellboy has a shoot first ask questions second mentality. I find it interesting that he does not ever seem to give others the benefit of the doubt.

If you have not previously read Hellboy, you could easily start at this volume, although I always recommend starting at the beginning of any series. If you’ve seen the movies, then you should know enough of his history that you can easily understand the stories (Specifically, “The Chained Coffin”) and the other stories are mostly out of time and easily read on their own.

I think the quality of Vol 3 is much higher than Volume 2, and I’m hoping there are more short stories in the following volumes, because Hellboy seems to work very well on that level.
Rating: 8/10

Categories: 8/10, Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

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