The finale of the Koshchei the Deathless series brings this cursed tale to it’s bittersweet end. Koshchei recounts his final moments with Baba Yaga and his battle with Hellboy, concluding his talk with Hellboy. The ending of the series wraps up Koshchei’s battle with Hellboy and how his fight against Baba Yaga’s control ends.
After Koshchei’s tale catches up with his encounter with Hellboy, Hellboy takes his turn talking about his own battle with Baba Yaga. Hellboy makes it known to Koshchei how Baba Yaga crossed paths with him. Both Koshchei and Hellboy mention how Vasilisa impacted their fight and speculate how Baba Yaga felt about the battle.
The last issue seems to have a ton of tie-ins with other Hellboy comics, seemingly referencing external characters or events. This expands the mythos a bit and made me very curious about what else was occurring in Hellboy’s world at the time. Despite all the other references, they didn’t detract from the overall plot that much and felt a bit more like a sprinkling of nifty Easter eggs. The conclusion is satisfying and left an impression on me which is more than I can say for other comics.
Hellboy takes more page-time here and as before provides his perspective of events. One of the contrasts in this issue is how Hellboy talks about his past fiery encounters while his present self in hell is sitting down with Koshchei, possibly tired and reflective. The art seems to indicate this as I will mention later.
Koshchei’s tale at last comes to an end, his story complete. He seems to almost revere Vasilisa and be somewhat empathetic to Baba Yaga’s actions. Having shared his tale with Hellboy, he seems to have gained respect and concern for him as a friend.
The quality is upheld in this final issue with great passionate battles and cool, ruminative scenes. As mentioned earlier, Hellboy’s past fights are illustrated in bright bold colors while his presence in hell with Koshchei is almost washed out. The scenes are polarized – energetic, explosive battles contrasting a sombre yet somewhat evocative atmosphere of past memories. The imagery and line work is really fantastic and creative, always bringing something new to the field as with the previous issues.
Once more, the balance between illustration and narrative is stellar. Hellboy comics are usually so easy to read, nothing too far spread out or too condensed and it can be said especially for this issue. The exposition and lines are not cheesy or winded and it really feels authentic.
Koshchei the Deathless was a great side story and addition to the Hellboy universe. A near perfect story, the artwork, dialogue and narrative held up consistently making for a “smooth as butter” read. It’s enjoyable and thought provoking – spurring me to look into these classic folk tales to see for myself what the inspiration was. The plot was not too predictable nor convoluted either. All in all a fantastic quality series that any Hellboy fan should read!