Brad Hawley

BRAD HAWLEY, who's been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Read Brad's series on HOW TO READ COMICS.

Hellboy in Mexico: Mostly Fight Scenes

Hellboy in Mexico by Mike Mignola (writer) and various artists

Hellboy in Mexico is a collection of short stories. It starts out with the same story that is in Hellboy (Vol. 11): The Bride of Hell and Others:

“Hellboy in Mexico, or A Drunken Blur” is a funny story about Hellboy’s lost five months in Mexico drinking and wrestling. The story starts in 1982 with Hellboy and Abe Sapien in Mexico together. Abe Sapien finds an old wrestling poster showing Hellboy with three other wrestlers. Hellboy tells him that it was from 1956. Hellboy then tells Abe the story of how he met the three wrestling brothers who were also monster hunters. Hellboy joined the brothers to fight monsters during the day and party at night. Then one night one of the brothers is taken by the vampires, and Hellboy goes in search of his lost friend. The story takes a strange turn once they locate the lost br... Read More

Hellboy in Hell (Vol. 2): The Death Card: An Ambiguous Finale

Hellboy in Hell (Vol. 2): The Death Card by Mike Mignola (writer and artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters).

This second and final volume of Hellboy in Hell collects issues 6-10. It opens with Baba Yaga reminding the reader what came before: “He fought and killed a dragon but the dragon was actually a witch. Her ghost plucked out his heart and cast it into Hell.” In the first volume of Hellboy in Hell, Hellboy “went into Pandemonium and cut Satan’s throat . . . . And now all Hell is in turmoil.”

When we join Hellboy in this volume, he has been wandering in Hell, lost in the maze-like expansive city surrounding the Stygian Sea. He gets a lesson in geography from two lost souls before a bad reunion and a card game of sorts with a former vampire. Saved by a minister in Hell, Hellboy continues to wander Hell in Chapter One, issue six, “The Death Card”... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 12): The Storm and The Fury: Hellboy and Ragnarok

Hellboy (Vol. 12): The Storm and The Fury by Mike Mignola (writer) and Duncan Fegredo (artist)

The Storm and The Fury takes up where The Wild Hunt (Vol. 9) left off. Hellboy: Volumes 10 and 11 are collections of short stories, so they do not advance the primary plot of Hellboy, which is what we get here. Hellboy is still in England, and knights are rising from their graves as foretold. The signs are dire, and Hellboy is on the case even though he left the B.P.R.D. On the other hand, as we found out in The Wild Hunt, Hellboy is the anticipated king of Britain, so the knights might be gathering together as an army that he is supposed to lead against the Queen of Blood.

This volume begins with Hellboy and Alice talking about what Hellboy’s been up to over the past few years, and this device allows Mignola to remind of us of the m... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 11): The Bride of Hell and Others: Another Solid Hellboy Collection

Hellboy (Vol. 11): The Bride of Hell and Others by Mike Mignola (writer), Richard Corben (artist), Kevin Nowlan (artist), and Scott Hampton (artist).

“Hellboy in Mexico, or A Drunken Blur” is a funny story about Hellboy’s lost five months in Mexico drinking and wrestling. The story starts in 1982 with Hellboy and Abe Sapien in Mexico together. Abe Sapien finds an old wrestling poster showing Hellboy with three other wrestlers. Hellboy tells him that it was from 1956. Hellboy then tells Abe the story of how he met the three wrestling brothers who were also monster hunters. Hellboy joined the brothers to fight monsters during the day and party at night. Then one night one of the brothers is taken by the vampires, and Hellboy goes in search of his lost friend. The story takes a strange turn once they locate the lost brother. Oh, yes, and there’s plenty of wrestling action.

“Double Feature of Evil” contains two stories tha... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 10): The Crooked Man and Others: Hellboy in the Appalachian Mountains

Hellboy (Vol. 10): The Crooked Man and Others by Mike Mignola (writer), Richard Corben (artist), Duncan Fegredo (artist), Joshua Dysart (artist), and Jason Shawn Alexander (artist)

The first story,“The Crooked Man,” is an Eisner-winning comic and the first Hellboy tale to take place in the Appalachian woods and is based on the folklore of that region (though, in an introduction to the story, Mignola makes clear that this story is not an adaptation of any existing story). He also lets us know in this introduction to the three-issue comic that he wrote this tale with artist Richard Corben specifically in mind. Opening in 1958 in Virginia, “The Crooked Man” is about Tom, who comes home after twenty years to find the two women he knew in childhood indebted to the devil, and only one of them, Cora Fisher, wants release. The other woman, Effie, enjoys being a witch and laughs at their suffering. Hellboy goes along on the journey with Tom and C... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 9): The Wild Hunt: Hellboy and Arthurian Legend

Hellboy (Vol. 9): The Wild Hunt by Mike Mignola (writer) and Duncan Fegredo (artist)

In The Wild Hunt, the main Hellboy plot moves forward in a significant manner. As we get into the comic, which ominously begins with Hellboy spying on a funeral of a king, we find two plot lines running throughout The Wild Hunt. First, Hellboy has been invited to gather with a group of men who hunt giants when two or more start roaming in groups to cause ruin and destruction wherever they go. There is a great, long-running history behind the Wild Hunt, which takes place whenever it is needed. Secondly, the creature Gruagach is resurrecting the Queen of Blood so that she will gather forces to seek out and destroy Hellboy. When there is betrayal within the gathering of the Wild Hunt before they even find giants to kill, Hellboy must question where his loyalties lie.

Gruagach’s story is a good one... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Sixth Annual Speculative Fiction Haiku Contest

Time for our sixth annual SPECULATIVE FICTION HAIKU CONTEST!  Anyone can do this!

As a reminder, here are the rules:

For haiku, the typical subject matter is nature, but if you decide to be traditional, you must give it a fantasy, science fiction, or horror twist. We expect to be told that the peaceful wind you describe is blowing across a landscape of an unfamiliar, distant planet. And if your poem is about a flower, we hope that elegant little touch of beauty is about to be trampled by an Orc. We welcome the sublime as well as the humorous, the pedestrian along with the momentous.

Though you may use the traditional three-line haiku following a 5-7-5 syllable pattern, feel free to break that pattern. Many poets who write English haiku adhere to other expectations:

Written in three lines, though sometimes in two or fo... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 8): Darkness Calls: Hellboy battles Baba Yaga

Hellboy (Vol. 8): Darkness Calls by Mike Mignola (writer), Duncan Fegredo (artist), and Dave Stewart (colorist)

A man trapped behind a wall calls on Hectate and binds her to do his will. Hellboy’s horns, broken off by him in a previous story, are recovered for some unknown purpose. And Hellboy, drinking by a fire safely at a friend’s home, mourns the loss of his mentor. When he goes for a walk, the action begins. And thus starts Darkness Calls, expertly drawn by Duncan Fegredo and colored by Dave Stewart. You do not want this volume to be your first exposure to Hellboy since it picks up many threads from multiple previous stories.

Hellboy is confronted by various creatures who want different things from him: The witches, whose power on earth is waning, want him to be their king, a role Hellboy has repeatedly refused, and Baba Yaga seeks revenge for Hellboy’s taking out her eye. Baba Yaga’s men are... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 7): The Troll-Witch and Others: A solid story collection

Hellboy (vol. 7): The Troll-Witch and Others by Mike Mignola (writer and artist), Richard Corben (artist), P. Craig Russell (artist)

A collection of seven stories, The Troll-Witch and Others stands out for featuring the artwork of P. Craig Russell and Richard Corben on one story each; however, the overall quality of this trade collection is a little uneven.

“The Penanggalan” has Malaysian folklore as its source material. It has a line in it that I love: “I did not say it was true, only that I believe in it,” which is spoken to Hellboy when he expresses skepticism regarding a folk tale. The Penanggalan is a creature whose head comes out of its body with its intestines dangling down from the neck. Hellboy goes in search of it with a young girl as his guide.

“The Hydra and the Lion” takes place in Alaska where Hellboy hunts down the hydra and runs into a girl who claims to be half ... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 6): Strange Places: Two More Mythos-Building Hellboy Tales

Hellboy (vol. 6): Strange Places by Mike Mignola (writer and artist) & Dave Stewart (colorist)


Strange Places is a collection of two top-notch Hellboy stories. “The Third Wish,” the first story, takes Hellboy to Africa. Mignola expertly weaves together several African tales of folklore before taking Hellboy beneath the sea. There he is captured by three mermaids who turn him over to their grandmother, the Bog Roosh, a large fish-like creature. The Bog Roosh traps him in bones made from a man who blames Hellboy for his murder. Each of the mermaids makes a wish but gets more than she bargained for, until the third, only somewhat smarter than her two sisters, makes a wish that will have an impact on Hellboy. And as always, in the end, Hellboy makes his own destiny. It is a story with a beautiful, haunting ending.

“The Island” is the second, and final, story in this coll... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 5): Conqueror Worm: Hellboy shows its pulp roots

Hellboy (vol. 5): Conqueror Worm by Mike Mignola (writer/artist) & Dave Stewart (colorist)

The comic opens in 1939 with Lobster Johnson, Mignola’s pulp fiction-like hero, invading a Nazi stronghold in a castle just as they launch a manned ship into space. Johnson and the United States soldiers are too late to stop it as it launches just as they invade the castle. The castle explodes at the moment of launch, making that day rumored to be Lobster Johnson’s final mission (Mignola also has a series of books about Lobster Johnson’s adventures). Sixty-one years later, the ship is scheduled to come to Earth. Hellboy and the homunculus Liz brought to life, now known as Roger, are sent there to meet it. Of course, getting up in the mountains on foot to that destroyed castle is no easy feat. And, unfortunately for Hellboy and Roger, it gets much harder from there.

Thus begins another excellent volume in the Hellboy series. There ... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 4): The Right Hand of Doom: Continues to build the Hellboy mythos

Hellboy (vol. 4): The Right Hand of Doom by Mike Mignola (writer and artist) and Dave Stewart (colorist)

Hellboy (vol. 4): The Right Hand of Doomis an excellent collection of stories grouped into three sections. While not all the tales here tie into the larger plotline of Hellboy’s grand storyline, they are all worth reading.

Part one of the book starts with a short two-page story, followed by two other stories from the early years. In “Pancakes,” Hellboy is a young boy and in the two following stories, he is just old enough to go on missions. “Pancakes” opens on a young Hellboy refusing to eat “pamcakes” because they are “yucky,” only to discover to his delight that he actually likes them. Meanwhile, in Hell, there is quite a reaction to young Hellboy’s culinary discovery.

In “The Nature of the Beast,” Hellboy is handed a spear and sent out to slay a dragon. The mis... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 3): The Chained Coffin and Others: Building the Hellboy mythos

Hellboy (vol 3): The Chained Coffin and Others by Mike Mignola (writer and artist),

Hellboy (vol 3): The Chained Coffin and Others does not continue the main storyline of Hellboy started in volumes one and two; instead, Mignola collects a handful of Hellboy tales in this trade edition:

In “The Coffin,” Hellboy makes his appearance in Ireland in 1959 as a mother cries over her baby, who she is convinced is a changeling. “Get to the crossroads by the strike of middle-night under the corpse tree,” screams the changeling-baby when Hellboy tortures it with iron. And Hellboy is off to the crossroads to make a deal with three creatures. Next thing you know, he is on a quest with a dead man hanging off his back. Only if he is successful will he be able to return the baby to her mother. “The Coffin” is one of Mignola’s best short stories.

Hellboy makes an appearance in Ireland again, ... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 2): Wake the Devil: Hellboy must face his destiny

Hellboy (Vol. 2): Wake the Devil by Mike Mignola (writer and artist) and James Sinclair (artist)

In this second Hellboy volume, Wake the Devil, Mignola goes big by revealing more of Hellboy’s destiny. Hellboy confronts a ghostly but still powerful Rasputin (the key figure in volume one who brought Hellboy to Earth). Rasputin also confronts Abe Sapien, whose life is particularly at risk since he killed Rasputin in volume one. But before Rasputin makes his appearance to Hellboy and crew, they go on a hunt for a vampire thought to be killed by Hitler.

The vampire was a key figure for the Nazis before Hitler decided to do away with him at the end of the war. In fact, the vampire, Giurescu, was originally recruited in 1944 by Rasputin’s right-hand woman, Ilsa Haupstein. This was a part of what was to be called project Vampir Sturm.In the present, still angry over his r... Read More

Over the Wall: A top-notch book for young readers

Over the Wall by Peter Wartman

Warned off by a demon not to enter the empty city, the girl from the country village persists in her desire to pass through the invisible barrier around the city that keeps the demons in. This young girl is the main character of Peter Wartman’s Over the Wall, a charming coming-of-age fantasy graphic novel for young readers. It is a quick read and is light on text to make room for the wonderful art that uses only purple in addition to the black and white drawings, a good choice in that it makes Over the Wall a visually unique graphic novel. Though it’s short, it’s a great read and one I recommend highly for young readers, though I certainly enjoyed reading it as an adult.

The story starts off with our young protagonist gathering together a few items in a backpack: It is nighttime, and we can see her parents asleep in bed in this one-room home... Read More

Thanos Wins: A great story about Marvel’s ultimate villain

Thanos: Thanos Winsby Donny Cates (writer), Geoff Shaw (artist), and Antonio Fabela (colorist)

Donny Cates tells one of the best stories of Thanos in Thanos Wins. The book collects Thanosissues #13-18 and Thanos Annual#1, and because it starts at issue #13, I have avoided the book, not having read issues #1-12 (though I mean to since they are by one of my favorite writers, Jeff Lemire). However, a friend recommended I skip #1-12 and jump straight to this collection because it is a standalone, self-contained story. I pass on the same recommendation to you: If you have any interest in Thanos or are a fan of Donny Cates, then you will like this book.

Many people have now heard of the Cosmic Ghost Rider, a new character in the Marvel Universe, and there is a good collection by Cates called the Cosmic Ghost Rider; however, this character was created by Cates in Read More

God Country: A sentient sword comes to Texas

God Country by Donny Cates (author) and Geoff Shaw (artist)

God Country is a graphic novel you have got to check out. It is one of the best works by my favorite new comic book author, Donny Cates, who has written other great comics like Redneck for Image and Thanos Wins for Marvel. In God Country, Cates tells the story of the Quinlan family and the arrival of a powerful sword that enters their lives and changes them radically.

The sword, Valofax, is a giant sentient blade that is the embodiment of all swords and knives throughout the universe. It changes the life of a small family: Grandfather Emmett Quinlan, his son, and his son’s wife and young daughter. The story takes us from Texas to Hell and finally to the far-off home of Valofax, whose creator wants the sword back even as his planet dies all around him.

W... Read More

Buzzkill: A superhero joins AA

Buzzkill by Donny Cates (writer), Mark Reznicek (writer), and Geoff Shaw (artist)

Buzzkill, collecting all four issues of the mini-series, is a funny superhero parody by Donny Cates and Mark Reznicek, with art by Geoff Shaw. I sought it out because Donny Cates is one of my favorite new writers, with great titles like Redneck from Image and the insane Marvel title Thanos Wins, which features a cosmic Ghost Rider who is a resurrected Frank Castle, The Punisher. Buzzkill is about a superhero trying to get sober. He eventually ends up with a sponsor who is a Doctor Strange parody. Together, they get this retired superhero the help he needs.

Buzzkill opens with our hero, Ruben, in a self-help group trying to get assistance as he decides to quit all drinking and drugs. Unfortunately, we find out, that is whe... Read More

7 Against Chaos: Science Fiction art not to be missed

7 Against Chaos by Harlan Ellison

7 Against Chaos by Harlan Ellison tells the tale of the robed man who gathers six others to join him in his attempt to save the Earth. The robed man, Roark, has been guided by near-sentient computers created by other near-sentient computers: They tell him that in order to save the earth in the twenty-second century, he will need the complete team of seven gathered together. Once the team is complete, they go back in time in order to confront their nemesis, Erissa, a lizard-man who wants to change the earth so that it is dominated by reptiles rather than mammals.

The first half of the book is a series of last-minute life-saving maneuvers by Roark. Each character is saved from near doom, for a variety of reasons. For example, Tantalus, the insect-man, was about to be killed by an angry crowd upset that they lost money betting that Tantalus would lose his battle in a large a... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Free Comic Book Day 2019! (Giveaway!)

Free Comic Book Day — FCBD — is always the first Saturday of May. To get your free comics on May 4, you’ll need to locate a local comic bookstore and, if in doubt, give them a call to see if they are participating. Chances are, if it’s an independent comic book store, they are offering free comics, because FCBD is designed to celebrate comics, to introduce comic books to new readers, to celebrate the unique independent comic book stores that sell them, and to support comic book stores by bringing in new customers in addition to the regular patrons.



If you are new to comics, FCBD is for you just as much as it is for those of us who can’t make it through a single day without reading comics. For me and others like me, it’s a day of celebration. But we also want to reach out to new readers.

So, if you have never been into a comic book store before, please ... Read More

Ghosted (Vol. 4): Ghost Town: Another Adventure Into the Occult

Ghosted (Vol. 4): Ghost Town by Joshua Williamson (writer), Vladmir Krstic (artist), Juan Jose Ryp (artist), and Miroslav Mrva (colorist)

Ghosted (Vol. 4): Ghost Town by Joshua Williamson is another adventure into the occult (though if you haven’t read volume 1, you should start there and first read my review of Ghosted (Vol. 1): Haunted House). It opens with the evil Markus showing up in Germany at a wedding that is just about to go bad — supernaturally bad. And he isn’t alone: He’s forced Rusnak, the psychic from the first story arc, to accompany him to witness the unholy union that’s about to take place unbeknownst to the two families gathered together to celebrate what should be a festive occasion. As they sit and wait for the wedding to start, Markus tells Rusnak about his past and about how he survived the “ghost bomb” that Jackson dropped on him at the end of Volume 1. Hi... Read More

Ghosted (Vol. 3): Death Wish: Another Great Tale of the Occult

Ghosted (Vol. 3): Death Wish by Joshua Williamson (writer), Goran Sudzuka (artist), and Miroslav Mrva (colorist)

In Ghosted (vol. 3): Death Wish, Jackson Winters, our master thief, is in prison yet again (And if you haven’t read volume 1 yet, start there and read my review of Ghosted (vol. 1): Haunted House). When we last saw Jackson, he had just escaped a haunted temple only to be greeted by his old friend King. King was a member of his gang of thieves who, in volume 1, tried to steal a ghost from a haunted mansion. But at the end of volume 2, it seemed that King had switched sides because he shows up with the Feds to arrest Jackson for escaping prison (back in the first issue of the series when Anderson broke him out to work for her boss). Anderson, who died the first story arc, is still haunting Jackson, our mastermind thief, but it seems as if he’s being haunted by something even worse... Read More

Ghosted (Vol. 2): Books of the Dead: Another Trip Into the Land of the Occult

Ghosted (Vol. 2): Books of the Dead by Joshua Williamson (writer), Goran Sudzuka (artist), and Miroslav Mrva (colorist)

In Joshua Williamson’s Ghosted (vol. 2): Books of the Dead, Jackson T. Winters is given yet another offer he can’t refuse, and again it’s got him dealing in ghosts and the possessed (And if you haven’t read volume 1 yet, start there and read my review of Ghosted (vol. 1): Haunted House). When we last saw Jackson, he was on his island in a little paradise all his own. But his paradise is next to a resort, and with people coming and going, it was only a matter of time before someone from his past life spotted him. This man sees Jackson, picks up his cell, and calls someone Jackson once wronged. Jackson shows up just as the phone call ends and kills the man; unfortunately, the call has been made, and he has only a short time to pack up and get out of there. As you might e... Read More

The Osamu Tezuka Story: A must-read for manga fans

The Osamu Tezuka Story: A Life in Manga and Anime by Toshio Ban & Tezuka Productions & translated into English by Frederik L. Schodt

“They say if you try making anime for 3 days, you’ll never be able to quit and that in 3 days you’ll also be broke. But even if I were to go broke, I still don’t think I’d be able to quit.” These words from Tezuka, upon receiving an award late in life, express his passion for his work in anime, but he had an equal passion for manga. But doing experimental anime proved so expensive, that he had to produce over three hundred volumes of manga in his lifetime to support his ongoing anime work. The more anime work he did, the more money he needed. The more money he needed, the more manga he produced. He was such a workaholic that he rarely left his office, where he often slept and usually ate his meals. Towards the end of his life, he even had multiple desks set up in his office with different ongoin... Read More

Ghosted (Vol. 1): Haunted Heist: Haunted houses, possession, and revenge

Ghosted (Vol. 1): Haunted Heist by Joshua Williamson, Miroslav Mrva, Goran Sudzuka

In Ghosted (vol. 1): Haunted Heist by Joshua Williamson, we meet Jackson T. Winters, currently in prison after an armed robbery gone wrong. It turns out that his death wish is not simply because he hates living inside a prison; rather, it’s because of a supernaturally disturbing vision he had the day of the robbery — it turns out the casino they were robbing was built on an ancient and sacred burial ground. Also, in the course of the robbery, every member of his team dies but him, and he is left alone to be caught by the police. The story takes off when he hears gunshots while sitting on his bunk in his cell. In minutes, a woman, Anderson Lake, opens his cell, kills his two cellmates, and knocks him out. When he wakes up again... Read More

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