After the serious repercussions and elaborate setups in the previous volume The Wild Hunt, I was once again reminded why reading the Hellboy series can be frustrating. Expecting to be taken on the next step in an amazing journey but finding myself reading a small tale which could be set at any time and place anywhere in the continuity.
In The Crooked Man, Hellboy happens upon a small town in which the devil is running riot, appearing as a dark scarecrow figure tempting the inhabitants with his gold. A vintage American horror story with unique artwork by Richard Corben which breaks away from the iconic Mignola approach to depicting Hellboy.
The rest of the volume is filled with similar reset button shorts, with smaller stories. Most notable, They That Go Down To He Sea In Ships, which features a resurrected pirate Black Beard. They problem with these tales is that they ultimately end in a battle of strength and therefore their isn't much tension. Hellboy is never in physical danger in the series and the stories which touch on his mental and emotional, "human" elements are much more engaging.
So, all in all, these shorts are a quick fun ride, they lack what makes Hellboy great. Again, I feel that Hellboy would have been better served with one complete story arc from start to end, rather than the mish-mash of small adventures we have ended up with.