A man trapped behind a wall calls on Hectate and binds her to do his will. Hellboy’s horns, broken off by him in a previous story, are recovered for some unknown purpose. And Hellboy, drinking by a fire safely at a friend’s home, mourns the loss of his mentor. When he goes for a walk, the action begins. And thus starts Darkness Calls, expertly drawn by Duncan Fegredo and colored by Dave Stewart. You do not want this volume to be your first exposure to Hellboy since it picks up many threads from multiple previous stories.
Hellboy is confronted by various creatures who want different things from him: The witches, whose power on earth is waning, want him to be their king, a role Hellboy has repeatedly refused, and Baba Yaga seeks revenge for Hellboy’s taking out her eye. Baba Yaga’s men are confronted by wolves, and Hellboy finds himself shuttled from one place to the next as the evil forces make their demands, their threats. At one point he’s carried through the sky; at other times, he willing follows those he encounters. No matter where he runs, though, he cannot find his way back to England as he seems to have been transported to some mysterious and haunted woodlands, apparently in Russia.
Though I enjoyed reading it, the book was fairly episodic with Baba Yaga trying one thing after another to get revenge on Hellboy. I liked the two epilogues best because they give us some sense of what is going on at the Bureau and in the world. They give context for Hellboy’s story. The art is impressive and almost as good as Mignola’s, but ultimately, there’s not enough movement forward in Hellboy’s progression as a character or in his storyline. I wanted a little more from this volume, so I have to dock it a star in comparison with the earlier Hellboy titles. But still, though not a great volume, a good volume of Hellboy stories is better than most comics out there. I cannot give it less than four stars.