Young Hellboy: Assault On Castle Death – Mike Mignola, Thomas Sniegoski, Craig Rousseau & Chris O’Halloran (Dark Horse Comics)

Moving can be hard on the soul and psyche no matter how old you are, but when you’re on the cusp of adolescence, it can seem like the end of the world. Having been forced to leave everything that he knows behind in New Mexico in order to start anew with the B.P.R.D. in Connecticut with his adopted father Trevor Bruttenholm, Hellboy isn’t exactly happy. I mean, what is there for an imaginative young Harbinger of the Apocalypse to do in the middle of nowhere (comparatively) in 1957 apart from read pulp magazines and books about his hero Lobster Johnson?

And when he gets sick and starts running a fever, his fantasies and the real world begin to blur and he sets out on the “adventure of a lifetime” with the clawed avatar of justice, the aforementioned, Lobster Johnson. Oh, and there’s a whole prophecy playing out at the same time that involves a secretive religious order and an assassin determined to end Hellboy’s story before it has barely begun.

Mignola and Sniegoski effortlessly weave the numerous plot threads together, as the theatre of Hellboy’s fevered mind and the very real and present danger stalking our young hero slam into each other in a blink and you’ll miss it two fisted, pulp infused tale that’ll send shivers of excitement up and down your spine, make every neuron in your brain fire at once and send your adrenaline into overdrive. And then there’s the art. The sublimely familiar, but beautifully individualised pencils of Craig Rousseau and the retro-flavoured colours of Chris O’Halloran that team up to push the story off the page and force it deep into the annals of your mind where it’ll dwell for days afterwards and become the sole focus of your every waking thought. Books like this don’t come along every day. Hell, they don’t come along every year or even every ten years, so get with the program and tune in, turn it up and pulp out… Tim Cundle

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