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This trade paperback collects the six-issue Hellboy: Darkness Calls series, along with two new epilogues and a sketchbook, making it perhaps the meatiest (in terms of page count) of all the Hellboy collections to date. Mike Mignola writes this one, per usual, and artwork is mostly done by Duncan Fegredo, with whom I wasn’t previously familiar, but his style is good and meshes well with Mignola’s, so it’s a pretty seamless hand-off.

Note: This review features plot spoilers — read at your own risk.

The story opens with the cursed Satanist Igor Bromhead (remember him from “Box Full of Evil”?) having summoned Hecate in an Italian crypt and Hellboy washed up on the shores of England. Hellboy has a nasty run-in with a conclave of witches and their familiars as well as the ghost of an infamous witch-hunter. Once again, Hellboy is confronted with his demonic origins and renounces his apparent destiny to rule the armies of Hell. He’s a god egg, that one. Then he’s promptly sent into a mystic dimension where the Russian witch Baba Yaga – one of Hellboy’s old foes – rules. And she’s still pretty annoyed with him over the fact that he shot out one of her eyes in their last encounter so she sends her minion, Koshchei the Deathless, as well as a veritable army of animated skeletons. Helboy encounters a number of classic figures from Slavic folklore before he can overcome Baba Yaga and escape from this land of eternal Russian winter.

I give this one 4.5 stars out of 5. A rollicking good Hellboy adventure, and the return of Baba Yaga and the exploration of Russian/Slavic folklore was lots of fun. Highly recommended – you won’t even mind (much) that Mignola has turned over the reins on the art to Duncan Fegredo (except for one epilogue that Mignola draws), as there are plenty of wondrous creatures and gorgeous winter vistas throughout the story.

Review copyright 2010 J. Andrew Byers