The Best of the Rest - Gwen's Favorite Short Story
Hellboy is probably best known for fighting and hitting things. But in one of my favorite short story, Hellboy does not fight any monsters or even raise his fist. Illustrated and written by Mike Mignola, The Troll Witch is very much akin to an old Grimm's fairy tale. Even though Hellboy is more a second character, we still got lots of action and weird little details that make the Hellboy universe so rich. A bloody spoon still dripping blood after many years, cow bones and a crown of flowers on a whispering; desiccated head. The artwork in this is lovely as always. My favorite scene in the story is the Troll Witch herself, riding a billy goat, wielding said spoon as a weapon to try and reclaim her sister head from the troll cave. Even the edges of the page are filled with odd details such as frogs with wings or bell in menacing shadows. Mignola does more with deep layers of shadow in a doorway or over rocks them most artists do with an action fill fight scene. Hellboy is a passive observer of much of the action in the tale, hearing most of it second hand from the Troll Witch herself. But what a wonderful, sad, tale it is.
Set in Norway, 1963, Hellboy is doing what he does best, investigating bloody, gruesome murders that the locals claim are done by trolls. The locals point him to the Troll Witch for help, and there is where our story picks up.
The Troll Witch (we never are given a name) herself is a novelty in the Hellboy world, since she truly seems to be a benign witch, uninterested in causing pain and mischief, unlike that most of the witches Hellboy has interacted with. Indeed, her motivation seems to be revenge for her sister, and prevent others from expressing the sorrow she has endured in her life just by being born an ugly, troll-ish thing.
While some may consider this story a bit of a downer, as there is no “happy” ending for the Troll Witch or her doomed sister, I still think she got the closure she desired, and with, to quote “no blow struck, not a drop of blood spilled” .
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