Borrowing from the Slavic folktale, Koshchei the Deathless tells the origin story of one of Hellboy’s enemies. The comic miniseries is written by Mike Mignola and published by Dark Horse. It tells the tale of how Koshchei became Baba Yaga’s slave. The series is a interesting action-adventure in true Hellboy style. Good dialogue and stylized art create a well-paced read perfect for relaxing after a hard day punching mythical creatures.
Koshchei and Hellboy meet in a tavern in hell. Over some drinks, Koshchei tells Hellboy how he became immortal, was enslaved by Baba Yaga and how she used Koshchei to attack Hellboy. As Hellboy listens, Koshchei narrates his journey to immortality and the unforeseen consequences thereof.
Hellboy acts as listener. You could say the reader is Hellboy, listening to Koshchei speak to them and asking questions the readers themselves might ask.
Koshchei is remorseful for what he did to Hellboy and doesn’t beat about the bush as to what he did in his lifetime. He is straight to the point when telling his story and at times it is hinted that he regrets his actions.
The plot is good and fluctuates between Koshchei actively speaking over scenes and them playing out from panel to panel. The rise and fall of tense action scenes to exposition allows the reader to sink right into the story and really taste it. I’m especially fond of the balance between dialogue and art. Every speech bubble has its purpose and nothing unnecessary is said.
The entire comic is flush with good tones, framing and color balance. The colorist, Dave Stewart, demonstrates his characteristic coloring techniques already well-known among avid Hellboy readers. All the colors are rich and even consider their adjacent panels. Ben Stenbeck’s line art leads the reader effortlessly through Koshchei’s beginnings. Ben and Dave seem to merge into one artist and end up balancing one another’s works out in terms of contrast and visual weight. The only nitpick I have is with the lettering for a few of the sound effects. Most of them are stylized as you expect, italic or bold etc, while the few are straight up boring with nothing extra done to them.
The first two issues have hooked me into the story. I am eager to see what happens to Koshchei after the end of issue #2. There are a multitude of references and small details within the story that I really enjoyed seeing. The art is of a high standard as well which makes it all the more worth it. This miniseries has gotten a strong start and hope it keeps up steam as we continue the tale of Koshchei the Deathless.