3 out of 5
Another odds and ends collection, bringing together plenty of shorts from Dark Horse specials along with the two issue Makoma, and one original piece for the trade illustrated by Mr. P. Craig Russell, The Troll Witch unfortunately shows the limitation of the ol’ Mignola ‘Monster! Kapow!’ formula when reading too many of these things back to back. The stuff is still a joy to read, of course, such is Mike’s skill – and it’s interesting to see that even at this still relatively “young” point in the Mignolaverse, he takes amazing risks with his pacing, often staging action off-panel to highlight symmetry or design instead – but none of it really matters, and when you have a lot of weird folklore piled together, the weirdness, too, starts feeling similar in its own way. Even Makoma, an opportunity for Corben to put a Corben touch to HB, follows a similar “Hellboy dreams / is told of some type of past haunting or mystery, finds himself in an adaptation of that event, then punches his way out of it with a lotta BOOMs and a final panel where he says something off-handedly like ‘There ya go.’ What was once a revelation when we first spotted HB – and what sprouted into such a flourished universe – is certainly fun to return to at points, but again, reading a lot of that in one go diminishes the appeal.
There are interesting mythology odds and ends here, and Corben is amazing when limited by Mignola’s script. P. Craig Russell’s addition – unique to this trade – looks fantastic, but I’m not sure I enjoyed his style set to the tale, and would rather have seen Mignola take it on. Nonetheless, the two additional artists help to break up the flow, and the book breezes by.