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

Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others by Mike MignolaHellboy (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 lion. Perhaps she is. There is a lot of fighting and a strange spin put on the story on the final page.

In “The Troll-Witch,” Hellboy confronts the witch who tells him a story about two sisters who loved each other, but one was born beautiful and the other a troll. It’s a good story and is a variation on a Norwegian folk tale.

“The Vampire of Prague” is the first story that Mignola wrote specifically for P. Craig Russell to illustrate. It’s beautiful and worth reading just for the visuals. It is about a vampire who is a gambler. His soul will be set free only if someone beats him at cards. Hellboy comes to town to deal with this menace. Oh, and there’s a puppet shop.

“Dr. Carp’s Experiment” takes place in a long-vacant house. The Bureau is alerted when this house, rumored to be haunted, is discovered to have a secret basement. Hellboy, surrounded by Bureau agents, has a unique experience that nobody else witnesses. A demon-monkey puts in an appearance.

“The Ghoul: Reflections on Death and the Poetry of Worms” is a strange story where not much happens. There is a little fighting and a lot of poetry. It is inspired by a line from Hamlet. Can you guess which one? The title gives a hint. This story is not a favorite of mine.

“Makoma” is illustrated by the great Richard Corben, known for his horror. This, the longest story in the collection, is inspired by the Andrew Lang fairy books. Hellboy falls asleep hearing a mummy tell him the African tale of Makoma. Hellboy dreams he is Makoma, and Hellboy/Makoma goes on a journey to defeat a series of giants. Though I like the art, this story is also not one of my favorites.

Though I would not pass it up, The Troll-Witch and Othersis not one of my favorite collections. It is a little uneven in quality. Still, even a less-than-great Hellboy comic book is worth reading.


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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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