In 1944 Hellboy was conjured in a ceremony meant to give Hitler the ultimate occult weapon. Fortunately, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm was there to witness, and to guide Hellboy to become the greatest paranormal detective in the world. But Bruttenholm wasn’t the only witness to Hellboy’s arrival. A visitor was there, sent to kill the Beast that had been prophesied to kill us all. What the visitor saw, and why he stayed his hand, leads to the most mysterious Hellboy spinoff yet … Paul Grist (Kane, Jack Staff) joins the Mignolaverse!
I must admit from the outset that I was both excited and anxious reading this comic. Excited because I am a big fan of Paul Grist’s ability to use simple, clean lines to convey depth and I was eager to see how his art style would work in the Hellboy universe. Anxious, though, because I was unsure whether Grist’s style would fit in with the baroque-styled artwork we typically see in Hellboy stories. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded and when I finished the first issue of The Visitor I was excited to read the next, and that is primarily due to Grist’s art.
The story from Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson (who previously co-wrote the Hellboy Winter Special) is interesting, taking place at different points along Hellboy’s timeline (including the time he was summoned to Earth as a boy). Grist’s art allows us to see these events in a different light, in some ways acting as a method allowing us to see through the Visitor’s eyes. The decisions he makes early on are interesting and speak volumes about his personality.
On first reading I thought this method of showing events we had already seen made for a slight story, almost as if this was a prelude rather than a full story. After reading the comic a second time, though (and taking more time to absorb it), I started to see the way in which these events gave an insight not only into the Visitor but also Hellboy too.
All in all, this is a great first issue which sets up the story’s stakes, seeds a couple of mysteries and gives us a fresh look at familiar events. Come for the great Grist art, stay for an interesting story !
Publisher: Dark Horse
Reviewer: Brett Harris