Review: Hellboy – The Midnight Circus / Author: Mike Mignola / Artist: Duncan Fegredo / Publisher: Dark Horse / Release Date: November 5th
One of the unanswered mysteries of the world is who on earth ever thought that clowns would be funny? With their corpse-like faces and distorted features, it’s no wonder that these days they tend to be the stuff of nightmares, rather than a source of amusement for children. Hellboy: The Midnight Circus doesn’t really answer any questions about clowns, but it does milk as much creepy goodness out of the painted goons as possible.
Unlike a typical Hellboy story (which usually involves the lead protagonist locating some wonderfully strange supernatural being and then hitting it), this is a coming of age tale, giving us a slight insight into Hellboy’s childhood. Mostly it’s an excuse for artist Duncan Fegredo to stretch his talents and produce some of the bleakest yet most visually stunning artwork the series has seen for a while. If you want a graphic novel filled with devil women, clowns, circus tops and the odd Pinocchio visual reference, then you won’t be disappointed.
Mignola’s storytelling is as strong as ever, and this short (but spookily sweet) tale is of the high standard we’ve come to enjoy from the Hellboy series. It’s mythic, heartwarming, scary and at the same time stuffed with a nostalgia for childhood, along with an understanding as to how tough growing up can be. If you’ve been a bit burned out by all the recent spin-off tales, then this will be a welcome return to basics for you.