Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others by Mike Mignola
Cover concept by Lorenzo Princi, 25th July 2013

Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others

Author: Mike Mignola
Artist: Mike Mignola

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi

The third installment of the Hellboy series breaks away from the Rasputin arc to focus on mini episodes featuring a variety of Paranormal activities involving the BPRD (and of course Hellboy specifically). Though the central arc is perhaps the overriding and most exciting part of Hellboy, this brief respite from it, in which we see Hellboy kick some butt in these short stories is good for developing the character. For the first time we really get to see how good he is at his job and for how long he has been hunting and fighting demons and beasts around the globe.

The volume's structure is very clever, beginning with an almost lighthearted (well... lighthearted for Hellboy anyway) story "the corpse" in which Hellboy must find a missing child abducted by some dark fairy creatures. Slowly but surely the stories become darker as we travel further into the darkness of Mignola's world featuring everything from ghosts to werewolves. Finally, in "Almost Colossus", a touching Frankenstein-esque parable, we return to the main plot arc (continuing from volume 2) and find out what happened to Liz and company after the events of "Wake The Devil".

Interestingly, I found that "The Chained Coffin and Others" may actually serve as a good introduction to the series, even more than "Seed of Destruction", which involves plot points of more over-arching consequences. These short stories really give you a good feel of what Hellboy is all about and his day to day world. Mignola continues to show his unique brand of macarbe meets superhero in this classic series by humanising his characters, even the antagonists, who could have easily been two-dimensional.