Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Itty Bitty Hellboy Review (Art Baltazar, Franco)

This one makes perfect sense. Marvel have been doing their Skottie Young-drawn Marvel baby variant covers to enormous success and I’d go so far as say Young’s AVX parody, A-Babies Vs X-Babies, was better than the real thing. Maybe this is a Japanese influenced move? I don’t know. Either way, having a baby-fied version of Hellboy seems like an obvious move for Dark Horse who looked at the market and said “me too!”. 

Being a huge Hellboy fan, I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while but I held back knowing this was a kid-friendly version of Hellboy - and it gives you exactly what you’d expect. Hellboy and his pals play in box forts, they go swimming, they have picnics and parties - even when they literally go to hell, it’s cute! What do they do in hell (or “heck” as it’s called here)? Make banana and walnut pancakes of course! 

These are perfectly appropriate young children’s material, emphasising the joy and importance of friendship, playing outdoors, being kind to others, and celebrating simple childhood innocence. But obviously for grown-up readers, they're a bit too simplistic and one-dimensional to say they're a compelling read. 

I especially enjoyed it because I love the original Hellboy comics (which are definitely not for kids!) which are dark and scary and violent. Seeing Liz, Abe, Johann and Roger, alongside Hellboy of course, all drawn like smiling kids was delightful. 

Art Baltazar and Franco’s art is perfect for kids and adults alike. The images are bright, uncomplicated and adorable, to suit the stories, and I loved every single panel of this book. Obviously the stories are aimed at kids so they’re easy to follow, short and episodic and don’t contain the stuff you’d usually expect in the grown-up Hellboy comics, but if you’ve got a kid and you’re a Hellboy fan/parent, I can’t imagine anything more perfect than this. Even single childless guys like me who just love Hellboy can get a kick out of these things - just go in knowing these are little kids stories and enjoy them for what they are.

Itty Bitty Hellboy

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