Hellboy (Vol. 11): The Bride of Hell and Others by Mike Mignola (writer), Richard Corben (artist), Kevin Nowlan (artist), & Scott Hampton (artist).
“Hellboy in Mexico, or A Drunken Blur” is a funny story about Hellboy’s lost five months in Mexico drinking and wrestling. The story starts in 1982 with Hellboy and Abe Sapien in Mexico together. Abe Sapien finds an old wrestling poster showing Hellboy with three other wrestlers. Hellboy tells him that it was from 1956. Hellboy then tells Abe the story of how he met the three wrestling brothers who were also monster hunters. Hellboy joined the brothers to fight monsters during the day and party at night. Then one night one of the brothers is taken by the vampires, and Hellboy goes in search of his lost friend. The story takes a strange turn once they locate the lost brother. Oh, yes, and there’s plenty of wrestling action.
“Double Feature of Evil” contains two stories that are presented as if they are movies shown to a theater full of corpses. In the first, “Sullivan’s Reward,” Hellboy meets a man who called the B.P.R.D. because he was killing people, or as he explains to Hellboy, a mysterious house that was given to him as a gift under mysterious circumstances is doing the killing. This is a great haunted house story. The house rewards the man for each person he leads inside to their doom. The ultimate payment is finally made, and Hellboy solves the mystery of the house. In the next story, “The House of Sebek,” a museum gift shop employee becomes convinced he is a priest of Horus and leads Hellboy into a temple that the museum houses. This very short story does not have much to it. The gift shop employee makes a fatal mistake in the temple of the wrong god.
“The Sleeping and the Dead” is a two-issue vampire story taking place in England in 1966. Hellboy follows leads on the report of a vampire and quickly finds her. After shooting her, she escapes by flying away. Hellboy tracks her down and finds her dying in an old house. He meets there a man who tells their story: A old vampire came there to visit his family almost one hundred years ago. The vampire turned one sister into a vampire — the one that Hellboy shot — and the other into something quite different and much more dangerous. While Hellboy deals with her, backup from the B.P.R.D arrives only to find vampires all over the place and popping up out of the ground. The ending has a good twist to it since the vampire is defeated in an unexpected manner. This is a fantastic story with great art by Scott Hampton.
“The Bride of Hell” is about a centuries-old creature to whom a group of people are sacrificing a woman. Hellboy shows up time to put some bullets in it and escape with the woman to sacred ground. There he meets a religious man who tells him the story behind the place and the monster’s long killing streak of those who cross his hunting grounds. Hellboy seeks his lair out in the daylight, and the creature tells him his rather surprising story that puts a twist on the damsel-in-distress tale that the “The Bride of Hell” seems to be.
Somewhat oddly, “The Whittier Legacy,” an eight-page comic, first appeared on the USA Today website, so Mignola tried to reach an audience that was unfamiliar with Hellboy. In this story, a man gets in over his head as he calls on powers too great for him to control. Hellboy tries to stop him. The man’s plans go horribly wrong. For an eight-page story, it is good, though not excellent given the lack of space for development.
“Buster Oakley Gets His Wish” starts off with a bunch of kids calling on demonic powers, which never goes well. The next day, Hellboy shows up in town to respond to a report of missing cows. The story gets really weird when aliens and a flying saucer put in an appearance. Mignola seems to have had fun figuring out how to connect aliens, demonic powers, Hellboy, and cows in one story. The art is exceptional.
This collection is not one of my favorites, though it is still a fun read. “The Sleeping and the Dead” and “The Bride of Hell” are the two strong stories here. The first story in “Double Feature of Evil” is my next favorite, which leaves the two very short stories, one of which is funny, and the humorous Mexico comic. Perhaps I just don’t like funny Hellboy stories. Still, I give this volume a solid four stars on the strength of the two best stories in the collection.