Hellboy is in Iceland with a bit of a hairy situation on his hands. Your Major Spoilers review of Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat from Dark Horse Comics, awaits!
HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL: THE YULE CAT
Writer: Matt Smith
Artist: Matt Smith
Colorist: Christ O’Halloran
Letterer: Clem Robins
Editor: Kath O’Brien
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: December 6th, 2023
Previously in Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat: Coming off of his time spent in Norway, Hellboy is now in Iceland at the behest of a professor whose town has started to experience some strange occurrences tied to an old legend.
YEP, THAT’S A BIG CAT
Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat opens in Iceland as a few birds gather on a statue and discuss Hellboy who is on his way to town and the possibilities of it being The Yule Cat that’s been terrorizing the area. Hellboy accompanies his professor friend to a tavern where the professor gives him the low-down on the things that have been happening as of late. Hellboy then calls back home to see if they have any possible explanation for what is going on and if they have any info on The Yule Cat. Hellboy then spots The Yule Cat and immediately springs into action. During the initial scuffle, Hellboy is transported to a barren landscape. He encounters a cloaked figure and works out that this person is the cat. He then gets into a fight with some summoned trolls before once again fighting the cat. In the aftermath of the fight, the birds return and are joined by an unexpected visitor.
GOOD ACTION, BUT PRETTY THIN EVERYWHERE ELSE
Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat takes the traditional approach that a lot of Hellboy comics take, which is to put him right into a case and have him investigate. Typically, along the way the situation gets a bit more complicated, maybe some extra characters are introduced, and there’s some light mystery solving. This is where this comic comes up lacking. There really isn’t any investigating nor is there any real dive into the actual legend of The Yule Cat. There are a couple of hints at something bigger going on, but they are tied to events of other Hellboy stories, which is odd because this one wasn’t advertised as being anything other than a one-shot on its own. Basically though, after learning about what is going on, Hellboy just finds the cat. This, thankfully, is where things get better. The rest of the issue is just one big fight and it’s a good one. What struck me about this action is that it taps into the sort of double-fisted, pulpy, style of fighting and action that really fits Hellboy as a character. It isn’t over the top, it’s not flashy, it’s just a good ole slobber-knocker. This makes this issue at least a little fun to read even if it’s pretty light on everything else.
BECOMING THE GO-TO GUYS
Matt Smith has been the artist behind quite a few of the more recent Hellboy comics, including this one, and it’s clear that his style is a good fit for this character. He manages to let Hellboy be expressive while somehow not making a walking red demon with a giant hand seem cartoonish. Also, his use of splotches of black instead of gradients to convey shading keeps his take on Hellboy in line with the sort of style that the character has become known for. His style also compliments the coloring of Chris O’Halloran here, whose use of flat unvaried swaths of color gives this a striking look that comes off as both unique as well as reminiscent of the comics coming out from around the world during the mid-century 1900s. I’d be good if this duo became the primary Hellboy artistic team for a long time.
BOTTOM LINE: JUST TOO SLIGHT TO BE SPECIAL
While Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat is a good-looking comic and there are some fun moments to be had, this issue just didn’t have enough meat on its bones. It honestly read more like a backup story that you’d find in a collector’s edition of something else. This is a shame because the idea of Hellboy tracking down and investigating a giant cat sounded like a really cool thing. 3 out of 5 stars.
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Hellboy Winter Special: THe Yule Cat
Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat is very light on story and plot but manages to still be enjoyable thanks to exquisite art and a pretty good fight scene.