The first story in this volume is The Third Wish. This is a fantastic tale that involves Hellboy trapped at the bottom of the ocean with a menacing villain. This story doesn’t have many characters in it, but that’s not a bad thing because the characters we do see are carefully examined and explored. Consequences are the main theme in this Hellboy yarn. It is explored brutally here. Hellboy’s ongoing conflict of fate versus free will is examined a little more closely here as well. We get a new view of how Hellboy’s purpose can be dealt with. This truly is a phenomenal story!
The next story in this collection is The Island. This is definitely the most epic Hellboy story we’ve seen so far. I could explain the plot to you, but I think Mike Mignola does it a bit better in his introduction of this story. “I’ve been keeping a lot of secrets. Then along comes this Hellboy movie, and suddenly we have the Ogdru Jahad popping out of their prisons and waggling their tentacles at the cameras. Hell, if you were going to see them, I figured I should show the real version of them in the comic first. And I’ll do one better. I’ll give their origin. And, while I’m at it, I might as well throw in the creation of the world, the rise and fall of angels, and the origin of mankind.”
And that’s what we get. It’s the most ambitious story yet. I’d like to say it’s the best story yet, but it isn’t. With all the things that Mike wants to tell, there is a lot of explaining going on. That takes away from some of the themes and character involvement that were present and at times the best part of earlier Hellboy stories. Oh well, this is “the end of the first chapter in Hellboy’s life”, and it’s certainly an important one that can’t be missed if you’re any kind of a Hellboy fan.