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Hellboy Third WishHELLBOY: THE THIRD WISH #1
Release: July 24, 2002
Writer/Artist: Mike Mignola
Dark Horse comics
2-issue limited series
$2.99 each

As die-hard HELLBOY fans already know, Mike Mignola is up to his ears in the upcoming HELLBOY movie, heavily involved in consulting with writer/director Guillermo Del Toro in planning the film, which starts shooting in January. That's great news for Hellboy fans who want to see a movie that's true to the comic; but bad news for Hellboy fans who expect a regular diet of the horned hero on their comic shop racks. Due to Mike's hectic schedule, THE THIRD WISH is going to be the last Mignola-created HELLBOY series for a while.

THE THIRD WISH tells the tale of how Hellboy is taken prisoner by a sea-demon, rendered helpless when three mermaid sisters drive a mystical nail into his head that puts him under the control of the ancient ocean creature known as the "Bog Roosh." The mermaid's motivation was that each would be granted a wish in return, but when the time comes to collect, they find out the hard way that making a deal with a demon rarely turns out well. Only one of them survives.

This issue has all the hallmarks of Mignola's previous HELLBOY work: moody atmospherics; dark, Alex Toth-esque artwork; and Hellboy's wry sense of humor ("Hey, giant talking fish, fun's fun, but I've gotta go.").

As a writer, Mignola's greatest strength is his dialogue, which is ironic, because he was so insecure about this aspect of his writing when he started out that he got John Byrne to script the first HELLBOY miniseries for him. Byrne wisely predicted that Mike was talented enough to do it on his own in the future, and he was right. Each character has a distinctive voice, one that reveals his or her personality, and gives even grotesque, non-human monsters a real identity.

This first issue is mostly set-up. Hellboy himself spends it mostly watching from the sidelines, which is a bit disappointing, but it looks like he's going to be kicking some aquatic tail next issue, so it's not a big deal. The biggest negative is that the series is only two issues long. I know Mignola didn't realize this would be his last one for at least a year, but one kind of wishes the comic-book Hellboy had gone out with more of a bang.

Oh well, absence makes the heart grow fonder. And if you read THE THIRD WISH with a pervading sense of bittersweet, it just goes to show that Mignola's got himself a winner. Here's hoping that, a year or two from now, Hollywood does too.

Four rabid fanboys.

FanboyFanboyFanboyFanboy
Review copyright 2002 by E.C.McMullen Jr.

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