Written by Mike Mignola
Art by Duncan Fegredo
I love Hellboy. The many comic series that have built up the long-lasting story have stayed consistently entertaining, the movies have both been a good time, and the games…er, forget about those. So I was excited to read the original graphic novel, Midnight Circus, but something here is missing.
The story here focuses on a young Hellboy, who runs away from the BPRD and runs into the Midnight Circus, which is run by demons, and from there…well, things get fuzzy. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some trippy moments in Hellboy stories in the past, but what exactly happens here is hard to determine. The references to Pinocchio are interesting, but at the same time, Hellboy doesn’t really have a lot in common with Pinocchio. And there’s foreshadowing that seems to carry little meaning besides being heavy foreshadowing. It’s a story where things happen, and in a way, these things are interesting, but at the end of the day, I could not write you a logical synopsis.
And yet, “things happen” is still a fascinating thing to happen to Hellboy. If nothing else, knowing the pure weirdness he would encounter in the future, this seems like a spot where Hellboy is first thrust into what he’s going to spend the rest of his life fighting, and he reacts about how you’d expect a kid to react. It’s interesting to see a different side of Hellboy, who isn’t yet all-powerful, but is still just a kid who has a tough destiny ahead. The other real strength of this book is Fegredo’s art. As always, I’m a little disappointed that Mignola does the cover when the interior is a different artist. At the same time, Fegredo masterfully takes control of things. In particular, there’s the art changes between the normal world and the Midnight Circus. I had to check to make sure it wasn’t two different artists, and having it as just one is very impressive.
So Midnight Circus isn’t quite a perfect story. Even with the hard-to-understand story, there’s enjoyment to be had here. But at the end of the day, there’s better Hellboy stories.