Filed under: 8 Stars, Adam Pollina, Brian McDonald, Cameron Stewart, Christopher Golden, Dave Stewart, Derek Thompson, Geoff Johns, Guy Davis, Joe Harris, Matt Smith, Michael Avon Oeming, Mike Mignola, Miles Gunter, Scott Kollins, Tom Sniegoski
This hardcover collects the TPB’s “Hollow Earth”, “The Soul of Venice”, and “Plague of Frogs” and includes the first appearances of Lobster Johnson and Johann Kraus.
Hollow Earth Contains:
“Hollow Earth” was written by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski with art by Ryan Sook. After Hellboy leaves the BPRD, Liz checks into a monastery to try to learn to control her powers. Whilst there she is captured by a strange race of creatures who live under the earth and BPRD agents Abe Sapien, Roger and Johann Kraus embark on a mission to get her back. “Hollow Earth” is a good read that has the same feel as other Hellboy books but doesn’t have that same special spark. Ryan Sook does a remarkable job of capturing Mike Mignola’s hellboy universe art style in this story.
“Hollow Earth Dark Horse Extra” was written by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski with art by Ryan Sook. This is a short story that explains the origin of Johann Kraus but it suffers from a rather confusing panel layout.
“The Killer In My Skull” was written by Mike Mignola with art by Matt Smith. This story features the first appearance of Lobster Jonson who attempts to solve a baffling paranormal closed door murder detective case. I didn’t really get a feel for the character here but Matt Smith did an excellent job of capturing the Mignola art style,
“Abe Sapien Versus Science” was written by Mike Mignola with art by “Matt Smith”. This is a story of scientific vivisection where the subject is Roger. Abe Sapien attempts to rescue roger from this fate worse than death itself. This is sort of an origin story for Roger and I enjoyed both it and Matt Smith’s artwork.
“Drums of the Dead” was written by Brian McDonald with art by Derek Thompson. Abe and new character Garret are called to investigate paranormal activities besetting cargo ships in an area with a certain link to triangles. This story features a different art style to the rest of “Hollow earth” but it uses a similar color palette and hence does not look out of place. I enjoyed both the art and story.
“The Soul of Venice” contains:
“The Soul of Venice” was written by Miles Gunter, Michael Avon Oeming and Mike Mignola with art by Michael Avon Oeming. It is the story of an evil vampire who has taken the soul of Venice to win favor with a demon. I enjoyed this story and the art was pretty good too.
“Dark Waters” was written by Brian Augustyn with art by Guy Davis. This is the story of 3 witches that come to light when a town pond is drained and a terrible evil is awakened. This was my favorite story in the “Soul of Venice” chapter and it also had my favorite art. I really liked Guy Davis’s pencils especially in combination with and Dave Stewarts coloring.
“Night Train” was written by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins with art by Scott Kollins and Dave Stewart. It is the story of a train crash back in the time of Lobster Johnson that leaves a train full of ghosts hell bent on revenge. This is a pretty good story but the best part of it is the really good artwork and use of colors.
“There’s Something Under My Bed” was written by Joe Harris with art by Adam Pollina. It is a short and fun story based upon the childhood fear of monsters under the bed.
“Another Day At the Office” was written by Mike Mignola with art by Cameron Stewart. It is another short story but this one features zombies and only average art.
Plague of Frogs:
The third TPB collected in this hard cover is “Plague of Frogs”. Unlike the other two volumes collected in this Omnibus, “Plague of Frogs” is one long story arc rather than a collection of short stories. I think this longer story marks a turning point in the series where when given room to breathe B.P.R.D really finds its own direction. This story features the return of Sadu-Hem and the frog monsters first seen in “Hellboy – Seed of Destruction”, the fulfillment of prophecies and vengeance from “Hellboy – Wake the Devil” and my personal favorite, the origin of Abe Sapien.
Not only is Plague a great story but it has really good art to. Although Guy Davis’s art does mimic Mike Mignola it has a more delicate and detailed look which when coupled with Dave Stewarts excellent coloring is very pleasing to the eye. I love the way Guy creates a sort of Quasi Victorian steam punk look to things and I love his background work. I have no problem with Guy penciling B.P.R.D especially if Dave is coloring.
This collected edition also has an extensive extras section with some great sketches and articles all which help this to be a must buy book for Hellboy fans. ISBN-13: 978-1595826091. 8/10
Filed under: 8 Stars, Alex Maleev, Brian Michael Bendis, Daredevil, David Mack, Joe Quesada, Michael Avon Oeming
Volume 3 of the deluxe hardcover Daredevil books Collects issues #38- 50 and has three main story arcs “Out”, “Lowlife” and “Hardcore”. The First part (Out) collects issues #38-40 and is the story of a semi-retired super hero, White Tiger, who interrupts a robbery in progress when he hears a shot. Unfortunately for him, the shot he heard was some young thugs killing a cop and after a scuffle with them he is left standing over the body just as back up arrives. The cops assume he is the guilty party and arrest him for murder. Murdock is persuaded to defend “White Tiger”, despite his misgivings, with the help of several other supers. “Out” is a bit light on action but strong on drama. What basically boils down to a CSI style courtroom drama helps to hammer home the impression that Daredevil is the thinking mans superhero. Such a storyline could be considered a bit of a risk in the action orientated superhero world but Bendis manages to pull it off nicely. Great artwork by Manuel Gutierrez on issues 38-39 and Terry Dodson on issue 40 and some great splash pages/covers.
The second part “Lowlife” (issues #41 – 45) carries on with the story of Daredevils ongoing battle with the press and his fight to protect his identity. The pressure really starts to get piled on in this installment as organized crime under the wing of the “Owl” and Kingpin’s ex lawyers begin to attack Daredevil in inventive new ways. He also falls for a blind girl who instantly sees through his disguise and even his old friend “Matt Cage” starts to turn against him after the “White Tiger” incident. Bendis does a great job of creating suspense in “lowlife” and you can almost taste Murdock’s desperation as he is backed into what seems to be an inescapable corner. I really enjoyed this storyline. I am not a big fan of Maleev’s sequential artwork and “Lowlife” does nothing to change that. Malleev’s poster and cover work is a much better demonstration of his talents and there are plenty of good examples in this book.
Part 3 “Hardcore” (issues #46 – 50) deals with the return of Daredevils arch nemesis “Kingpin”, his most hated adversary “Bullseye” and the insane “Typhoid Mary”. It’s a great story that builds up to a fantastic brutal climax. The final issue (#50) is also special in that it has the work of many guest artists (Alex Maleev, Gene Colan, Lee Weeks, Klaus Janson, John Romita, Joe Quesada, Michael Avon Oeming, David Mack). “Hardcore” is a great read and a real shake up in the Daredevil world. [ISBN-13: 978-0785111061]. 8/10
Collects Mice Templar #1-6 – As the title of the book suggests, this is a story with mice and a sword and sorcery theme. This deluxe soft cover has excellent paper and way better than usual set of extras including some very in depth articles. The artwork is well done but lacks a little detail in favor of artistic presentation. This made it a little difficult for me to tell who was who at times. The story was pretty good with some nice plot twists and turns and it had the same sort of serious tone that watership Down used so effectively (NOT Disney at all). I have yet to find animal based Graphic Novel that approaches my favorite authors work (William Horwood) but this wasn’t bad at all. Very comprehensive set of extras. [ISBN-13: 978-1607061274]. 6/10.