With a new Hellboy in Hell motion book launching via their app this week, Madefire have added to their library the most high profile character yet. But will this latest motion book offering see them descend into a fiery pit like their lead character or rise to the digital heavens?
Publisher: Madefire/Dark Horse Comics
Writer/Artist: Mike Mignola
Motion book publisher Madefire may have made their name with exciting original titles like Captain Stone Is Nissing, Mono and Treatment, but they are solidifying that name by transferring existing titles from established publishers into their dynamic motion book engine, bringing movement and sound to previously static pages. We’ve seen them do this with great success already in titles from IDW Publishing like Star Trek and Transformers, however transferring a title with the distinctive look and heritage of Hellboy present them with their biggest challenge to date!
Fortunately for fans of both Madefire and Mike Mignola, this new Hellboy offering perfectly captures the dynamic feel of a motion book without losing any of Mignola’s trademark style. Pages from the original book are chopped up and re-ordered before animating into their original positions creating a stunning new interpretation of Mignola’s iconic character. The action animates within the page, zooming and panning around the screen as if this was a movie. Elements are cut out from their original moorings and zoom around the page and seeing how the transfer has been made is every bit as enthralling as the story itself (especially for fans who already have the print book). The whole of the first issue is there to enjoy and depending on whether you see this as a pro or a con, each page ultimately renders in the same way it was in print.
With smart and subtle use of sound making Hellboy’s fall into the pit almost literal, Madefire‘s engineers create a stunningly immersive comic, managing to create the perfect balancing act of adding this extra level of sensory input without it ever becoming cartoonish and corny. In many ways it reminded us of Marvel’s superb Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite book from Michael Avon Oeming, whose similar angular style was made to look right at home in this new dynamic digital format.
Hellboy in Hell is a great start point for new and old fans alike, with Mignola returning to art and scripting duties for this new ongoing series, over seeing Hellboy’s descent into the pit after a particularly fatal battle with a dragon and discovering he was a descendant of King Arthur. It is quintessential Hellboy, but as is often the case for this character the back story can get a bit convoluted for the uninitiated. For those coming to the title for the first time, the story is fairly slow and doesn’t necessarily give you the best introduction (especially if your only previous contact with the character has been via the movies or the cartoon series) as it focuses on quite a bit of mystical back story and character development rather than action adventure. However for fans of the series, this is an essential read taking the character in a bold new direction, mixing the rich and dense history we know all too well with the kind of literary allegories and historical references we are used to from this truly unique series.
As a transfer of a title from one format to another, the Hellboy in Hell Motion book is faultless, giving fans an upgraded and updated version of this great comic without losing any of the original’s personality and style. However if we are to judge it as a motion book in it’s own right, then it does come up slightly short. Because it is not created specifically for the platform it means it lacks some of the true innovation and originality that we see in the ‘Madefire Originals‘. So despite being a supberly entertaining read, it just lacks that final something to make it a truly 5 star read. Plus there is also the issue that, as fans, we are being asked to pay again for a title we have already read and purchased in a different format (albeit one that doesn’t move and have sound). But these are relatively minor points that shouldn’t stop your enjoyment of what is a truly superb motion book/comic hybrid.
“Far from descending into digital hell, Madefire are shooting for the heavens with this superb transfer from print to digital. It perfectly retains the look, feel and spirit of this iconic character, giving Hellboy a 21st century motion book makeover that’s slickly animated but never cartoonish!”