Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hellboy: Chained Coffin

Chained Coffin is a collection of short stories and one shot adventures, all of them inspired by folk tales. Hellboy fights Baba Yaga, encounters the daoine sĂ­dhe and learns about his origin in a pretty creepy story involving a dead witch inside the chained coffin and a demon.

Mike Mignola's style is striking, you can see some examples here and I love Hellboy's laconic way of dealing with things. In Chained Coffin, I enjoyed the blend of folk tale and mythical creatures here, most of all the Baba Yaga story. Baba Yaga has always creeped me out and true to form, she survives the fight with Hellboy and takes her revenge on the village he wanted to protect.

Old tales are always powerful because they have been retold countless times until they have a shape that finds it's way directly into our soul. The Hellboy version is only the latest incarnation and maybe one day, will become part of the tale. I've always liked the scene in Reign of Fire where Christian Bale's character tells the story of Star Wars to a group of fascinated children - apart from being the best moment of the movie, it also shows that humans will always tell stories, it's what we do. And just because something's a comic or a movie doesn't mean that it won't be told as a story. As Ian Stewart, Jack Cohen and Terry Pratchett say:
We are not Homo sapiens, Wise Man. We are the third chimpanzee. What distinguishes us from the ordinary chimpanzee Pan troglodytes and the bonobo chimpanzee Pan paniscus, is something far more subtle than our enormous brain, three times as large as theirs in proportion to body weight. It is what that brain makes possible. And the most significant contribution that our large brain made to our approach to the universe was to endow us with the power of story. We are Pan narrans, the storytelling ape

29th book for the Library Challenge

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