Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Batman/Hellboy/Starman #2 (1999)

Batman/Hellboy/Starman #2 (February, 1999)
"Jungle Green Horror"
Writer - James Robinson
Art - Mike Mignola
Colorist - Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer - Willie Schubert
Editor - Peter Tomasi
Cover Price: $2.50

Well, Batman just tagged out to Starman... let's go fight some Lovecraftian Nazis... yup.  If you need/want to catch up, part one discussed right here.


We pick up a bit after where we left off last issue... Batman is preparing to restart his Joker-hunt, but first, has arranged transportation for Hellboy and Starman to the South American village of San Diablo.  On board, Hellboy and Jack discuss the possible reasons why the Knights of October would want his father... whether there's any metaphysical angle to the elder-Knight's work.  Jack informs Hellboy that metaphysics really ain't his dad's thing.  Jack then goes to sleep.

As the pair approach their destination, Hellboy wakes Jack up and gives him the quick 'n dirty about their operation.  We learn that San Diablo was at one time a copper mining town... and the big Nazi boss is Otto Dantz.  I mean, we already knew that bit... but we get some backstory here.  He is the son of a war criminal... and his Knights of October have some sort of link to the Knights of Templar.

The plane reaches their destination, and the pair hop out using Jack's cosmic rod to safely descend... until, of course they are blasted with a Nazi death ray!  They are thankfully able to shake it off... and land without incident.  Of course, at this point... they find themselves in a hail of gunfire from Nazi soldiers wearing night-vision goggles!

A fight is on, and Jack and Hellboy are able to hold their own.  At this point, Hellboy notices the fact that the baddies are all wearing those night-vision goggles... hmm, and Jack's cosmic rod can really light up the night, right?

With the Nazi grunts out of the way, our duo (plus a hostage) head toward San Diablo proper.  There are swastika flags hanging from the buildings and a strange glowing light beaming from a sort of cannon into what appears to be a crater.  

Hellboy "convinces" their hostage to spill the beans... and we learn that the Knights of October are trying to raise an... elder god to "do their bidding".  Ya know, like an H.P. Lovecraft critter... turns out this one's called Suggor Yogeroth... can't say that without my mouth feeling like it's full of cotton.  Anyhoo, Hellboy tells Jack that this isn't so weird, as Lovecraft... "knew some stuff".  Interesting...

The hostage continues... Ted Knight was kidnapped due to his familiarity with the stars.  The Knights are looking to draw energy from a particular star in order to raise the god.  Jack's all "never gonna happen"... but the hostage informs him that Dantz is not above using mind-altering drugs to meet his ends.  Before the conversation ends... the god begins emerging!

Hellboy bonks their hostage... and the pair look to hop to it.  Unfortunately, neither has a plan.  Ehh, that's no problem... Jack will just fly in and start blasting!

Inside the compound, the Ratzis are beginning to panic... one heads in to inform Dantz as to the goings on.  His initial reaction is to blow Ted Knight's head off his shoulders as he "knows too much".  Good thing Hellboy is there to stop him, and snag Jack's pop.

Hellboy brings Ted to safety... and inoculates him with a syringe full of anti-toxin to rouse him from his slumberous state.  Here we have an interesting conversation about what to do with that, ya know... elder god. Ted Knight is all science, and Hellboy is all metaphysics.  There is no contention, but the pair are definitely coming at this from two very different angles.  Hellboy posits that he may be a prayer he can send the beast back with.

He instructs Jack to attack the creature to weaken it while he dismantles the Nazi compound and sets about getting his prayer on.  The sky is illuminated with star blasts and green lights... and ultimately, the light cannon falls onto the elder god.

Dantz is running after the heroes wildly waving his fist about... until the explosion.  The entire village explodes, leaving Jack, Ted and Hellboy standing alone in the jungle.  Just then, their ride home flies overhead... Batman.


Gotta say, I enjoyed this a whole lot more than I thought I would.  It seems that whenever there's an inter-company crossover, that event in itself sort of overshadows any potential story.  I mean, in so many cases it's the spectacle of seeing two (or more) heroes from different universes in the same panel that "sells" the thing.  Any story that was to follow was sort of secondary.

Here, however... we've got a story, setting, and tone that suit the heroes involved.  Like I'd said yesterday... this story would feel right at home in an issue of Batman, Starman, or Hellboy... this is the way you do crossovers.  We're not worried about how Hellboy found his way into the DC Universe... because, that doesn't matter.  Batman knows things... and he's heard of Hellboy... that's all we need to concern ourselves with.

A few points... I liked the use of H.P. Lovecraft lore here, especially with Hellboy's mention of Lovecraft "knowing stuff".  I will concede I have very little experience with the works of H.P. Lovecraft, but the little I have read is written in such a way that they are being told from the point of view of an observer.  That would certainly lend to the idea that what he was writing wasn't (entirely) fictional.  Really like that.

The discrepancy between Ted Knight and Hellboy's points of view was interesting, and quite well done.  It is plainly stated by Jack that his father (despite having teamed with diety-power-levelled folks) does not believe in the afterlife.  Well, Hellboy being the son of you know who, certainly comes at it from a different angle.  They maintain a level of professional respect for one another, and seem (almost) open to accept what the other person is saying.  Very well done, not at all soap-boxy like these scenes can (and often do) become.  Just a great bit. 

All my thoughts in regard to storytelling, dialogue and art from yesterday's piece are echoed here.  This was a great two-and-done, it feels as though things happened... but nothing so great that it will need to be addressed in the future.  Not an "out of continuity" waste of time by any stretch.  Just a nice story utilizing fun characters.  Definitely recommended... I listed the ways in which this issue (and series) is available in yesterday's post.

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