Bagged and Boarded Comic Reviews: Hellboy, Steve Ditko's Gorgo, and more


New comic book Wednesday has come and gone. The dust at your local comic shop has settled. An eerie silence descends as you finish reading your last superhero book of the week. Now it's time for something a little more sinister. Welcome to Bagged and Boarded: comic reviews of the sick, spooky, twisted and terrifying!

colderColder No. 5

The insanity-driven story of Colder comes to a close in this issue. Declan, our chilly hero, has been captured by the creepy Nimble Jack. After being toyed with for a bit, Declan is finally able to strike back and attack the insane antagonist for the first time in the series. It's crazy vs. crazy in this final showdown.

Bag it or board it up? I've been following this comic from the beginning, and I've had my ups and downs with it. I found the first issue very inventive and interesting. I think the characters are fun and creepy. The gore is fantastic. But the depiction of "crazy" always feels a little lazy to me. In this issue, we get some background and only spend a tiny bit of time in the madness of the mind. Otherwise, it's just an awesome slugfest (of the mind) between two great characters. This is a fun issue and I really enjoyed it.

kissKiss No. 8

The rhinestoned foursome streaks across the galaxy on a quest from the Elder to fight Satan in his galactic hell. As they battle with the prince of darkness, they use their powers alone and in conjunction with one another. The fight is epic, with bursts of flames and evil bats, magical axes (get it?), and all sorts of explosions and blasts of magic.

Bag it or board it up? This comic is not good for a bunch of reasons. The dialogue is easy, stilted, and boring. Here's an example where Starchild speaks to Satan about KISS's magical talismans: "You lost them when your pathetic proxy failed to stop our human avatars on the elder's cosmic plane" -- uh, what? The action is fine, lots of jumps and punches. But what really burns me up about this issue is the way the female lead is portrayed. Let's talk about the role of women in comics, can we? All through this issue, there's a female character who questions the Elder (a god-like old man). She's kept at bay. She's dressed in skin-tight spandex. She's not allowed to do anything until the end. Her name? She. (Yes, really.) Finally, at the end, She's basically given permission to save the day by the Elder. This is the type of lazy, damsel in distress, objectified crap that I'm sick of in comics.

Steve Ditko's Monsters Vol. 1: Gorgo

Oh Gorgo, we love the way you smash apart London. We love the way you remind us of another giant green monster. And no one loves you more than Steve Ditko. The wonderful pioneer illustrator started his love affair with Gorgo as a promotional tie-in comic with the film when it was first released in theaters, and the series took off and continued. Here, collected, is that first comic, old covers, anecdotes, stories, and a great introduction to the work.

Bag it or board it up? There's a lot to love here. If you're a monster movie fan, this comic is a throwback. If you're a Ditko fan, some of his weirdest work is in this book. I swear, sometimes Gorgo looks like a sickly green man. The comic is vintage, kitschy fun. And there's also a wealth of knowledge about the comic and the movie crammed into this hardcover collection. This is a lot of fun to read, and as an object it's pretty nice too!

hellboyHellboy in Hell No. 4

Hellboy and his guardian/guide recount the trials of hell so far. His guardian's true identity is revealed, the story of how that person came to hell is lavishly retold. Eventually the big guy is left to his own devices, and begins to slowly explore his new home. I could say more, but this is a series you should be reading and I don't want to spoil anything.

Bag it or board it up? Please bag it! Hellboy in Hell is the pinnacle of moody, atmospheric horror comics. There isn't a huge duel between Satan and Hellboy (that's been taken care of already). There aren't spouts of flame and lava. It all looks so dreary and sad, it's a vision of hell we don't much get to see. If you have the patience for an interesting, action-light comic, you need to be reading Hellboy in Hell. And if you don't have the patience for that sort of thing, take a deep breath, calm yourself, and read Hellboy in Hell anyway.