Hellboy didn’t know much about Koshchei The Deathless when he first faced the immortal warrior. There wasn’t much to say about him beyond the name and the name said it all. “Deathless” is a pretty definitive title.
He did know something of the legends, though. How Koshchei became immortal by hiding his soul inside of a duck. Which was then hidden inside of a rabbit. Which was then hidden inside of a goat. This may have also inspired how turducken was made, depending on which scholars you ask.
The one other fact the scholars agreed on was that Koshchei somehow fell into the service of the witch Baba Yaga, though the exact details of how this came to pass were unknown. And Hellboy didn’t get the chance to ask him as the two were fighting.
Now, Hellboy finds himself in Hell. In a bar. With Koshchei sitting across from him. Having nothing but time and with Koshchei having apologized for his past actions and explained himself, Hellboy agrees to listen to his story. Not only of how the legendary warrior came to be a slave to Baba Yaga but also how an ordinary boy became a legend…
Koshchei The Deathless #1 proves another fine exploration of the Hellboy universe. Unlike last month’s holiday special, Hellboy: Krampusnacht, which was a serviceable but strictly by-the-book Hellboy adventure, Koschechei The Deathless is more concerned with explanations than action. Established fans of the series to date will enjoy it immensely. but Mike Mignola’s script is also easily accessible to new readers and more casual Hellboy fans who may be unclear as to precisely why their hero is in Hell.
Mike Mignola’s script is deeply steeped in classic Russian mythology. While drawing upon the details of the original myth of Koshchei, Mignola spins his own original workings into the tale. The story still has a distinctly Russian aesthetic to it, being full of betrayal, revenge, monsters and humans who prove more treacherous and heartless than any monster.
The artwork by Ben Stenbeck proves a worthy partner to Mignola’s writing. The two are frequent collaborators and the art speaks to a certain level of comfort between the two creators. Those familiar with the usual house-style of the Hellboy comics will find more of the same high quality artwork here. Dave Stewart does his usual stellar job on the colors, capturing the bleak hopelessness of both the Russian winter and Koshchei’s life/unlife. The letter work by Clem Robins also deserves mention, being neat and readable in the word balloons, with some nice emboldened fonts used for the various sound effects.
Hellboy fans and mythology buffs will find much to admire in Koshchei The Deathless #1. It seems unlikely that new readers will be won over by this tale, but Mignola’s story will prove perfectly accessible to them. Couple a rich story with some equally enjoyable artwork and you have one fine comic.
Koshchei The Deathless #1 will be released on January 3, 2018