Hellboy (vol. 6): Strange Places by Mike Mignola (writer and artist) & Dave Stewart (colorist)
Strange Places is a collection of two top-notch Hellboy stories. “The Third Wish,” the first story, takes Hellboy to Africa. Mignola expertly weaves together several African tales of folklore before taking Hellboy beneath the sea. There he is captured by three mermaids who turn him over to their grandmother, the Bog Roosh, a large fish-like creature. The Bog Roosh traps him in bones made from a man who blames Hellboy for his murder. Each of the mermaids makes a wish but gets more than she bargained for, until the third, only somewhat smarter than her two sisters, makes a wish that will have an impact on Hellboy. And as always, in the end, Hellboy makes his own destiny. It is a story with a beautiful, haunting ending.
“The Island” is the second, and final, story in this collection. Grand in scope, Hellboy goes from drinking with skeletons on an island to confronting Hecate again. The story is a cascade of images that includes the mythical — a giant monster — as well as the historical — a priest overseeing the killing of an evil man in the name of his God, an image from the inquisition. The African figure from the previous story puts in an appearance, as well. There is a great deal of prophesizing about the various ages of man and the coming end times in which Hellboy is supposed to play a part. At times confusing, this story tries to bring together many disparate threads of the Hellboy mythos, perhaps too many for my tastes. I prefer a more linear narrative than what Mignola offers here. And for that reason, I must dock the two-story collection one star. It is still worth reading, but this second does not reach the heights for which it is obviously striving. The art, however, is as sublime as ever.