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The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed #1

by Forrest.H on February 22, 2017

The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed #1
Written by Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson
Illustrated by Paul Grist
Colored by Bill Crabtree
Lettered by Clem Robins

In a compelling, revealing, issue covering an oft-overlooked period of Hellboy’s life, we’re introduced to a kind of silent observer of the Hellboy story, The Visitor. As well as how and why he stayed.

The Mignolaverse at large is all the better for it.

Presented as a series of vignettes, tableaux of Hellboy’s raising and eventual turn toward heroism, we watch a watcher. A kind of intermediary between Hellboy and the universe at large, and tasked with killing Hellboy, whom The Visitor and his kind call the Destroyer, that Visitor instead stays his hand, giving our red-fisted hero a chance.

Watching from the sidelines, near shadows really, as is customary of the Mignola style of art that Grist captures well here, if a little too simplistically, The Visitor watches as Hellboy transitions, awkwardly through riding a bike and attempting to purchase comics, to eventually, dragon slaying - witnessing, as we have over the years too, the birth of a hero.

It’s a delightful unfurling and indulging in the sheer complexity of the Hellboy story as well as Mignola’s universe at large. Touched on briefly before, in Seed of Destruction and Conqueror Worm, the aliens in the sidelines of this massive story now have their own avatar proper, inserted logically but in a way that still encourages a sense of overarching intrigue enough to propel the story for more issues to come even if this issue is a little light on the details aside from the setup of the Visitor character.

The issue is at its best when it conveys the thoughts and motivations of that avatar, a not-entirely-impartial watcher in Hellboy’s tale, and it spends too much time and visual choreography on parts of the Hellboy story that we have already seen but on the whole, this is a good issue written almost exclusively for fans of Mignola’s work, who I think should be very happy with, and intrigued by, this offering. Others might be missing crucial details to make real sense of this issue, a conceit that I think the issue takes in stride, but in the end it's not really written for them. It's as Hellboy as a Hellboy comic can be, another layer to a layered universe and one that, unlike some other recent excerpts from Hellboy's life and story, I think really adds something of value, as mysterious as it still is. 

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