Hellboy sets out on a sea-faring journey in a dingy only to wide up trapped on a ghost ship in another time. Nothing bad can happen here, right?Keeping track of the Mignolaverse chronology, with the different miniseries jumping around in time, is always something of a challenge. Hellboy’s history all by itself, is fairly tangled. The BPRD minis solve this by focusing on Hell Boy early in his paranormal adventures, while books set in his childhood or exile in Mexico are easier periods to chart. Hell Boy gives a recap of recent events, but to us they’re almost a decade old. This story takes place after The Island. I know somehow he winds up in England after, but I also remember around the time of The Island Hell Boy was playing cards with a couple of ghosts on a shipwreck. That doesn’t affect this story, but I think its where Mignola got the idea for it.
Certain Hellboy stories are important to his life, like him quitting the BPRD or meeting his uncle in The Box and renouncing his crown of fire. Other stuff is sort of fluff, like The Midnight Circus which is entertaining but doesn’t reveal anything about the Beast of the Apocalypse or Hellboy himself.
Whatever importance these stories have, usually it doesn’t matter because they have that Mignola charm and some great art to go along with it. Indeed, Gianni turns in some wonderful pages of Hellboy drifting through the Ocean or tied to the sails post. He has a very detailed, almost Dave Gibbons style here and it makes a great impression on the story itself. It gives the right vibe to the seafaring setting, and Gianni nails the clothing and designs of the ships.
Aside from the great art, this story has a lot of common Hellboy and horror tropes: civilians co-opted in a suicidal venture, a scientific minded individual who gets over their head, a cute kid and pet, creepy monsters, and Hellboy pounding the snot out of those monsters.
I read through Into the Silent Sea in one sitting, and while I don’t hate the story it feels sparse. It runs sixty pages, but it doesn’t leave a lasting impression when its over. Hell boy set sail, met some ghosts, and went on his way. He spends most of it strapped to a wooden pole and only gets loose when the monsters show up. Mignolaverse stories don’t have to have layers and stacks of metaphors, but this story feels like it could’ve been much shorter and accomplished the same thing.
Compared to previous stories that we’ve seen more recently, Into the Silent Sea takes a relaxed and downbeat approach to a simple story. It’s not a punching monsters centric story, or one that stretches the boundaries of Hellboy stories. Reader enjoyment may vary, but if nothing else, we’ll soon see other stories with the character that see him traveling with the BPRD fighting monsters and learning to be the paranormal investigator we know he grows into.
Disclosure: Publisher Dark Horse provided a review copy of this comic to Nothing But Comics without any payment between the site and publisher or agreement on the review’s content.