Hellboy in Hell #7: The Hounds of Pluto Part One is the first of two issues which will be dedicated to the second part of this story arc. The issue begins with a deceased Hellboy “awakening” in a place which was once England. He is informed that a new life tree was born of his sacrifice, and that the old world tree is dying thanks to the beasts in Hell. Unfortunately, this reality seems to be a dream or vision, as Hellboy is awoken again to find himself in the care of two doctors who inform him that his soul is being devoured by a carnivorous parasite. Hellboy may have thought that dying was the worst that could happen to him, but he runs the risk of losing himself and becoming a hollow phantom, doomed to roam Hell.
This issue is bizarre and surreal, which is just what I would expect from an issue which features Hellboy in Hell. The art is disorienting and beautiful, which is perfectly in line with the story of this arc. Of course there are varied shades of red and the art itself is dark in color; the reader is looking at Hell after-all, but the book is a joy to glance through from an artistic standpoint. The story itself becomes more interesting than one might originally expect when the doctors introduce themselves. The physicians seem to be more like warlocks than the health providers we’re accustomed to, but then again one would expect that in Hell very little would be as it seems. Fans of Macbeth will even recognize pieces of the ‘Song of the Witches’ in their dialogue towards the end of the issue.
This was a joy to read on its own, even outside of being a Hellboy or horror fan. It proves, as we all suspected, that dying may only be half the battle for the beloved demon. Despite the surreal focus of the content in issue 7, The Hounds of Pluto Part One definitely sets the stage for an action-packed sequel. (Hellboy is tasked with keeping someone occupied, so we can guess at the direction his methods will take.) The issue hints vaguely at the events which are to come and offers just enough information to keep the reader puzzled and intrigued. Thankfully writer and artist Mike Mignola reveals only as much as he has to to keep fans eager for the next issue, in his usual fashion.
Based on the cover of Hounds of Pluto, I would guess that we haven’t seen the last of the life tree. We’re just a few fist fight sequences and a dead cat possession from it returning to the forefront of the story. (Didn’t you believe me when I said this issue was surreal?)
WICKED RATING: 8/10