As the last echoes of Christmas begin to fade and with the New Year still in its infancy, the cold, dark embrace of Winter serves as a timely reminder that ghosts, ghouls, spectres and the things that go bump in the night are never far away. In the aftermath of the solstice, the only protection against these many stygian horrors, is Hellboy and the gaggle of companions who stand with him to ensure that the veil between the land of the living and the place that nightmares call home remains firmly closed. While it sounds good in theory, in practice it never quite works out that way and the doorway between the worlds is never sealed quite as tightly as it probably should be and in the Hellboy Winter Special, some of those things from the other side manage to find a way through.
Collecting a trio of stories from some of the finest Mignolaverse alumni and four colour cream of the crop creative talent, the Winter Special is an eerie collection of haunted tales that juggle their Bradbury, Dickens, James and pulp influences with a deft touch and light finesse. Whether attempting to right the wrong deal by well-meaning miserly ghost, discovering that monsters come in all shapes and sizes and not all of them deserve to meet a grizzly demise at the end of an axe or solving a murder mystery in which punishment is metred out at the hands of an otherworldly entity, these cautionary fables draw their audience behind the curtain and allow them to peak into the darkness without fear of being harmed by the dread they reveal. Beautifully rendered and delightfully told, each of the three stories offers a unique glimpse into the endless imaginations of their authors and artists and the world which Hellboy has made his own and all three demand that the reader returns in order to sample, and enjoy, their tenebrous pleasures time and time again. Bravo Big Red, bravo… Tim Cundle