Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea: Hellboy goes sailing

Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea by Mike Mignola (writer) & Gary Gianni (artist)

Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea by Mike MignolaHellboy: Into the Silent Sea is such a short volume that, at less than sixty pages, it can hardly be called a graphic novel. Still, it is a worthwhile read and a great addition to the Hellboy canon. The story starts off in a dismal place: a dark, foreboding shoreline with large, shipwrecked boats cast up on the rocks and half-sunken in the shallow waters. The mood is aided by a quotation from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the Romantic poet. From the excerpt of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner comes the title of this volume: Into the Silent Sea.

The story starts off with Hellboy launching from the shore in a small sailboat, and he heads into the windy sea. As we watch him sail, we are given quotations from the poem “The Pilot” by Thomas Haynes Bayly. He approaches and boards a large sailboat that is not falling apart like the boats on shore. Without any explanation, the next panel shows Hellboy wrapped in chains onboard and surrounded by seamen. The captain wants to sell him for money, but he faces a potential mutiny from the sailors who do not want a devilish creature — “unholy cargo” — aboard their ship for fear that he will bring them bad luck.

Oddly, though the story takes place in the early 2000s, Hellboy can tell from his conversation with the captain that he is somehow mysteriously in the nineteenth century. Left chained up overnight, the sailors below deck discuss and debate what kind of creature or man Hellboy is. On deck, Hellboy is visited by a kind, young boy named William who, accompanied by his dog, gives Hellboy some water. The boy talks with Hellboy and warns him that “the Lady onboard” will want to see him, and even the skipper is scared of her, believing she is the “real devil.” Hellboy, of course, will meet this mysterious woman.

This is a fantastic story and worth seeking out. Mignola ties into it his larger mythos about the ancient Hyperboreans and Heliopic Brotherhood, a mysterious group that, in this volume, seeks archeological proof of their theories, while at the same time trying to “expose the myth . . . cast our light upon it . . . to reveal the Truth.” Heca Emen Raa, “the serpent from the beginning of the world,” puts in an appearance. And it would not be a Mignola story without a good fight sequence and some tentacled creatures. Overall, Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea is top-notch Hellboy storytelling by Mignola with excellent, atmospheric art by Gary Gianni. Highly recommended.


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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.

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