Hellboy Winter Special (2016) – Various

3 out of 5

Better than last year’s mish-mash, but this is still a bit underwhelming as each of the three stories featured seems to he used specifically to introduce something that will be used down the road.  Which sucks, because the stories are pretty fun otherwise, but the question mark endings (i.e. “I wonder who that was? / I wonder what this thing does?”) really robs the bits of satisfying conclusions.

All of the offerings look absolutely fantastic, between Christopher Mittens’ P. Craig Russel-esque take on Edward Grey, Sebastián Fiumara’s grounded old-school B.P.R.D. bit, and – surprising to me, as I don’t get much mileage out of the guy – a fun, spirited showing from Paul Grist.  Roberson and Mignola script the first and last one I mentioned, with Scott Allie and Mignola writing for Fiumara.  Bill Crabtree (yay!) colors Grist; Dave Stewart the other two.

Each story is winter-set, which is nice, and each strike a slightly different tone.  The Edward Grey story – investigating the cause of a sudden blizzard – has a classic, bemused tone to it, while God Rest Ye Merry – the Grist one – is a humorous HB vs. Santa Claus short, silly up until that unresolved ending issue I mentioned.  The last tale is a bit darker (and a tad cluttered, narratively) and has Liz, Abe and Hellboy searching a wintery forest for some lost girls.

The 2016 Winter Special takes a different approach from last year, treating it sort of as a springboard for (presumably) eventual storylines.  This robs it of a nice one-and-done feel, but the art is great, and it is at least much more consistent (and consistently entertaining) than last year’s version.