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The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed Review

3 min read

Look, Roger, a dead alien.

Creative Staff:
Story: Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson
Art: Paul Grist
Colors: Bill Crabtree
Letters: Clem Robins
Cover and Chapter Break Art: Paul Grist and Bill Crabtree

What They Say:
In 1944 Hellboy was conjured in a ceremony meant to give Hitler the ultimate occult weapon. Fortunately, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm was there to witness and to guide Hellboy to become the world’s greatest paranormal detective.

But Bruttenholm wasn’t the only witness to Hellboy’s arrival. This collection reveals the aliens who monitored Hellboy’s arrival, and why the assassin they sent to Earth stayed his hand.

Collects The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed #1-#5 and The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed short story from Hellboy Winter Special 2017.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The alien known as The Visitor first appeared in issue four of Hellboy: Seed of Destruction. He appeared again in Hellboy: Conqueror Worm, but until this collection, he remained a mysterious, somewhat incongruous figure, an exile from a science fiction story thrust into a world of occultism and the supernatural. As Chris Roberson asks in his afterword: “What’s the deal with those alien guys?”

Thankfully, Robinson and Mignola have the answer.

The Visitor was present the day that Rasputin summoned Anung Un Rama, the Destroyer (known to you and me as Hellboy) into this world. He was sent by his race to kill the Destroyer before he could fulfill his destiny. Once he laid eyes on Hellboy, though, he knew he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t kill a child, even one with such a horrible purpose, because he understood that nurture counts just as much as nature, and it would be unjust to condemn the child for actions he hasn’t even done.

The rest of his team disagrees with his decision, but possess no power to stop him. The Visitor elects to stay on Earth to monitor the child and—if need be—kill him.

What follows is a view from the peanut gallery tale where the Visitor stands on the sidelines, observing and occasionally aiding Hellboy and the BPRD, and if that was all this comic was about, it wouldn’t hold up more than two issues. Thankfully, this is as much a story of the Visitor’s life on Earth as it is jumpy chronology of Hellboy’s maturation. The Visitor falls in love with a human woman and builds a life with her, all the while observing both Hellboy and humanity. This gives the comic a weight and an “elegiac” tone, to once again crib from Robinson’s afterword.

A strong sense of pathos underscores the trade, with the visitor marveling at the light and the dark that dwells within humanity. Paul Grist does a fine job of conveying the Visitor’s conflicted emotions and world-weariness, employing minimal, strategic lines to give the character a slump in his shoulders, or a frown line in just the right panel. It’s similar to Mignola’s style (although lacking in the more baroque, bombastic quality of Hellboy’s creator).

Bill Crabtree’s colors stray towards the dark and atmospheric, fitting for the subject matter, and they add an extra sense of depth and weight that pulls in the reader and brings the story more fully to life.

Together, the writing, the pencils and inks, and the colors create a weighty, pathos-heavy story that satisfies. It all builds to the point we all knew was coming: the Visitor’s death in Conqueror Worm, but the interesting thing is that the moment feels like a release, not a tragedy. It’s emotionally affective without being maudlin, and that’s no easy feat.

In Summary:
Hellboy fans should enjoy this trade. It doesn’t add any new insight into Hellboy and his journey, but it’s a thoughtful, engaging read with solid line and color work. It’s kind of like a good opening act—it’s fun and gives you something substantial, but you’re still waiting for the headliner to take the stage. Dr. J gives this a…

Grade: B+

Age Rating: 14
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 4 October 2017
MSRP: $19.99