Hellboy (Vol. 9): The Wild Hunt by Mike Mignola (writer) & Duncan Fegredo (artist)
In The Wild Hunt, the main Hellboy plot moves forward in a significant manner. As we get into the comic, which ominously begins with Hellboy spying on a funeral of a king, we find two plot lines running throughout The Wild Hunt. First, Hellboy has been invited to gather with a group of men who hunt giants when two or more start roaming in groups to cause ruin and destruction wherever they go. There is a great, long-running history behind the Wild Hunt, which takes place whenever it is needed. Secondly, the creature Gruagach is resurrecting the Queen of Blood so that she will gather forces to seek out and destroy Hellboy. When there is betrayal within the gathering of the Wild Hunt before they even find giants to kill, Hellboy must question where his loyalties lie.
Gruagach’s story is a good one. He tells of how he came to be the pitiful creature he currently is. He once was a powerful shape-changer who could take on gangs of giants himself. But after an accidental betrayal by his love — a kind but flawed human woman — he finds himself lost for many years before a strange encounter with Hellboy that led to his current desire to destroy him: He once tried to pass as a human baby, a changeling, in order to make a switch, but Hellboy caught him and saved the baby (a story told in another collection). The baby has now grown up and accompanies Hellboy in this story. Gruagach’s anger is total as he seeks to unleash on Hellboy, and on the world, the Queen of Blood. This story about the coming of the Queen of Blood is the basis for the Hellboy film reboot. Gruagach believes that when she comes back, she will return to him his former powers.
Fans of Arthurian legend will enjoy this comic book, as Morgan le Fey shows up and tells Hellboy that he is descended not just on his father’s side from a demonic bloodline, but also from his mother’s side that connects him with King Arthur. The battle within Hellboy throughout the series, between his violent side and peace-seeking goals, is thus explained in his origin. Will Hellboy chose the violence that always follows him and that he lets loose on the giants, or will he try to find some kind of peace through his mother’s bloodline? Or are both bloodlines routes to violence and destruction? Even more interesting than the appearance of Morgan le Fey is the revelation of Excalibur embedded within stone. Will Hellboy try to take the sword in hand and free it from the stone, or will he find his destiny in another, more unexpected direction? Or maybe taking the sword in hand is the exact choice he should not take. The sword is a weapon of violence after all.
This comic is a satisfying one, really bringing together much of what has come before in the previous collections. There are too many connections to list them all, but the reader who has enjoyed and read carefully the previous volumes will find much more to enjoy than if someone were to pick up this volume and read it on its own. In fact, I would advise against reading The Wild Hunt without reading the collections that come before. Unlike some of the collections of short stories that can be read on their own as introductions to Hellboy and his world, The Wild Hunt is too tied to the Hellboy journey up to this point. Fans of Hellboy should not miss this volume.