Hellboy in Hell (Vol. 2): The Death Card by Mike Mignola (writer and artist), Dave Stewart (colors), & Clem Robins (letters).
This second and final volume of Hellboy in Hell collects issues 6-10. It opens with Baba Yaga reminding the reader what came before: “He fought and killed a dragon but the dragon was actually a witch. Her ghost plucked out his heart and cast it into Hell.” In the first volume of Hellboy in Hell, Hellboy “went into Pandemonium and cut Satan’s throat . . . . And now all Hell is in turmoil.”
When we join Hellboy in this volume, he has been wandering in Hell, lost in the maze-like expansive city surrounding the Stygian Sea. He gets a lesson in geography from two lost souls before a bad reunion and a card game of sorts with a former vampire. Saved by a minister in Hell, Hellboy continues to wander Hell in Chapter One, issue six, “The Death Card”
In Chapter Two, “The Trials of Dr. Hoffman,” Hellboy finds out that the World Tree is dying, only to be replaced by a new World Tree that grew in the spot where his blood was shed. He also has a conversation with two doctors, one of whom humorously claims not to believe in the soul since he is a scientist. Finally, Hellboy witnesses a Kafkaesque trial in Hell, before being diagnosed by Dr. Hoffman, who in turn needs a favor from him.
Chapter Three, “The Hounds of Pluto,” opens with a fight, after which Hellboy explains the story of his birth to Hoffman (which was told to us in volume one of Hellboy in Hell). Hoffman proceeds to act as his guide and explains that the Furies have been hounding Hellboy, “gnawing away at your soul.” In this chapter, Hellboy, after having defeated his brothers in volume one, finally runs into his angry half-sister, whom he must confront.
Chapter Four, “The Spanish Bride,” opens with a group of devils discussing the chaos in Hell since Hellboy’s return to his birthplace. They contemplate what they must do to be accepted by Beelzebub as his followers. Hellboy is confronted by a former acquaintance who explains to him his duties now that he is in Hell.
Chapter Five, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” closes the volume and the entire storyline, all ten issues, of Hellboy in Hell. We are told of Pluto in relation to Satan and their roles in Hell. But most of the final issue is a largely ambiguous series of silent panel sequences. I will not make any interpretive claims here in this review, but this final issue certainly demands multiple, careful readings. At the very least, the ending satisfies in the way the mood is conveyed, but some will be dissatisfied with the ambiguous ending. Overall, I still wanted at least one more issue to the story to give the reader a better sense of closure, and for that reason, that sense of incompleteness, it is not a five-star volume to me. Still it is another great entry in the Hellboy canon, and it is a pleasure to see Mignola drawing his own book once again.