One Mad Dog


[Conan Vol. 4: The Hall of the Dead and Other Stories] – (Kurt Busiek,Cary Nord, Mike Mignola, Timothy Truman)
August 2, 2012, 8:45 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Cary Nord, Conan The Barbarian, Kurt Busiek, Mike Mignola, Timothy Truman
  • Chapters 1 and 2 : Kurt Busiek
  • Chapters 3, 4 and 5 : Mike Mignola
  • Chapters 6 and 7: Timothy Truman

“Hall of the Dead” is another solid Conan novel that continues the style and pace from the previous three.   Despite a change of authors throughout this volume it manages to have a consistent feel which is in doubt helped by Cary Nord’s great artwork.  It is easy to spot Mike Mignola’s work as he takes things off in a slightly Lovecraft direction (Dare I say plague of frogs ?) but this only adds to the books appeal.

Like volume 3 this book concentrates on Conan’s exploits as a thief and it matches him up against all manner of enemies and situations. It is essential that the reader has read the previous 3 volumes before reading this one if they are to gain maximum enjoyment.

“Hall of the Dead” is good value and has great artwork and story. There are also some nice extras from Mike Mignola in the back of the book which include cover art and a very interesting article on the relationship between Howard and Lovecraft.  (ISBN-13: 978-1593077754). 8/10

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[Solomon Kane Volume 2: Death’s Black Riders] – (Scott Allie, Mario Guevara, Darick Robertson. Guy Davis)

“Death’s Black Riders” collects #1 to #4 of Dark Horses “Solomon Kane: Death’s Black Riders” series and the “All The Damned Souls At Sea” short story.  It is set in the Black Forest, just like the previous Dark Horse Volume (Castle of the Devil), and features the writing of Scott Allie and art of Mario Guevara.

“Deaths Black Riders” has more of a Conan or even a BPRD/ Hellboy feel to it than Solomon Kane. It is basically one long monster bash from beginning to end and lacks the more considered brooding approach that Solomon Kane normally has. From the moment the book begins the dialogue is confusing and hard to follow and the cluttered and muddy art makes it difficult to figure out just who is talking.  It was quite a way into the book before I actually realized which character was Solomon Kane. The story also suffers from poor pacing and some of the fight scenes and dialogues run on too long.  I quite enjoyed some of the interactions with the priest but the demons were a little too H.P. Lovecraft for my tastes.

Mario Guevara’s artwork was not as good as in the first volume and I found it quite difficult to follow at times.  I liked Guy Davis’s artwork in the short story better but I still struggled a little to follow what was going on once the boat started breaking up. If I hadn’t read the notes in the back of the book I would not have guessed that the boat turned into some kind of sea serpent. Even Guy Davis’s art seemed to be a bit off par. I enjoyed the Mike Mignola TPB cover and Darick Robertson’s excellent single edition covers in the special features.

Death’s Black Riders isn’t a bad book but it suffers from not being a particularly good Solomon Kane adaptation with art that in my opinion is a little substandard. It has some great special features and is still worth a read if you liked the first volume. ISBN-10: 1595825908. 6/10



[Baltimore Volume 1: The Plague Ships – H/C] – (Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Ben Stenbeck)
October 7, 2011, 9:09 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, Ben Stenbeck, Christopher Golden, Mike Mignola

This hard cover collects the “Baltimore Plague Ships” comic book series issues 1 to 5 with some extras.

“After a devastating plague ends World War I, Europe is suddenly flooded with vampires. Lord Henry Baltimore, a soldier determined to wipe out the monsters, fights his way through bloody battlefields, ruined plague ships, exploding zeppelins, and submarine graveyards on the hunt for the creature who’s become his obsession.”

Baltimore has the same look and feel as BPRD and is instantly recognizable as a Mike Mignola creation.  It has a bit of a Van Helsing or Solomon Kane feel to it but it is set in an alternative history after the first World War. The setting is perfectly rendered  and the story grips you from start to finish.  I love how they merged the idea of medieval plague into an early 1900’s war torn backdrop and threw in a bit of steam punk horror to garnish the mix.  I can wait for the next collection to find out what happens in Baltimore’s search for the elusive vampire and hopefully the answers to many other questions that this cracking first collection raised.

Ben Stenbeck’s artwork is perfect for the subject matter and has a fantastic atmosphere to it. He has a strange technique of not drawing feet or legs on far away characters that sometimes looks a bit odd but gives the book a quirky character. The color palette is the same as many of Mignola’s work but I have absolutely no problem with that.  I will definitely be looking out for more of his work.

Baltimore is a must read book for fans of Mignola and this hardcover version is worth the extra money. ISBN-13: 978-1595826732. 9/10



[B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs Collection, Vol. 1 HC] – (Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Tom Sniegoski, Ryan Sook, Matt Smith, Brian McDonald, Derek Thompson, Miles Gunter, Michael Avon Oeming, Brian Augustyn, Guy Davis, Geoff Johns, Scott Kollins, Dave Stewart, Joe Harris, Cameron Stewart, Dave Stewart )

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



[The Chronicles Of Solomon Kane] – (Roy Thomas, Ralph Macchio, Howard Chaykin, Steve Carr, Bret Blevins, Mike Mignola, Jon Bogdanove, John Ridgeway))
November 7, 2010, 10:34 am
Filed under: 7 stars, Bret Blevins, Howard Chaykin, Jon Bogdanove, Mike Mignola, Solomon Kane

This TPB contains all of the original 1970’s and 1980’s Marvel color comic books based upon Robert E. Howard’s puritan hero Solomon Kane. It features the stories “The Mark of Kane” and “Fangs of the Gorilla God”  and the entire Sword of Solomon Kane mini-series.

  • “The Mark of Kane !” written by Roy Thomas with art by Howard Chaykin.
  • “Fangs of the Gorilla God” written by Roy Thomas with art by Howard Chaykin.
  • “Red Shadows” written by Ralph Macchio with art by Steve Carr and Bret Blevins.
  • “And Faith, Undying” written by Ralph Macchio with art by Bret Blevins.
  • “Blades Of  The Brotherhood” written by Ralph Macchio with art by Bret Blevins.
  • “The Prophet !” written by Ralph Macchio with art by Mike Mignola.
  • “Hills Of The Dead” written by Ralph Macchio with art by Jon Bogdanove.
  • “Wings In The Night !”  written by Ralph Macchio with art by John Ridgeway.

The storyline  is a classic Solomon Kane where an innocent is wronged and Solomon pursues the perpetrators to the end of the earth. The first two stories definitely feel a bit dated  and are retold in “Red Shadows” by Ralph Macchio where they felt a bit fresher and benefited from improved art.  I seem to remember Solomon Kane was a good bit more puritan and unwielding in other stories that I have read but this book even had him using the forces of black magic and befriending a witchdoctor.

I didn’t like Howard Chaykin’s art in the first two stories which seemed to suffer from poor inking. The artwork in the rest of the book is pretty good featuring classic comic style art. Mike Mignola’s art was unlike his present style and actually looked very similar to the other artists. I enjoyed this collection and would recommend it to Robert E. Howard fans. [ISBN-13: 978-1595824103]. 7/10



[Solomon Kane: Castle of the Devil v. 1] – (Scott Allie, Mario Guevara, Mike Mignola, Dave Stewart, John Cassaday)

This story is set in the haunted Black Forest of Germany and is an adaption of  Robert E. Howard’s  fragment “The Castle of the Devil”.  Solomon Kane is like the anti Conan, a devout puritan man wielding gods punishment on evil doers in a dour way.  This story revolves around a devilish baron and his evil secret that lies hidden in the ruined monastery beneath his castle.  Castle of the devil is a good story with plenty of supernatural goings on and gory killings. Even though Mike Mignola only drew the cover, the book does have a hint of his style of story telling and a great sense of atmosphere.  The artwork is good and fits the story well although Kane at times does have a certain Marilyn Manson look to him and things can get a bit muddy in places.

The excellent extras include character sketches and some top rate covers by Joe Kubert and John Cassaday. [ISBN-13: 978-1595822826]. 8/10



[Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser] – (Howard Chaykin, Mike Mignola)
May 6, 2010, 2:43 am
Filed under: 7 stars, Howard Chaykin, Mike Mignola

This book has the same look and feel as BPRD/Hellboy and is printed on the same satisfyingly high quality paper stock. It is a collection of adaptations of Fritz Leiber stories that were adapted into Graphic novel form by Howard Chaykin then re-issued some time later with artwork re-imagined by Mike Mignola.  Mike Mignola’s artwork is excellent and really fits the stories well. Even in his pre “Hellboy” days he had a unique style which definitely adds to the character and enjoyment of this Graphic Novel.

The stories have their own particular quirky style that for some bizarre reason they remind me of Oscar Wilde. I enjoyed all of the chapters but the second story where they basically traveled round the land seemed a little disjointed and confusing. The Dialogues between Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are often quite strange but at the same time intriguing. It is not your average sword and sorcery book and it is just different enough to stand out from other stuff in this genre. Well worth a read. [ISBN-13: 978-1593077136]. 7/10.