Does "Hellboy in Hell" Finale Signal the End of Mike Mignola's Time With the Character?
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks (more or less), with each week devoted to a single writer. This week: Grant “I can put two unrelated words together with the best of them!” Morrison. Today’s page is from Doctor Who magazine #139, which was published by Marvel (UK) and is cover dated August 1988. Enjoy!
Morrison wrote a few stories for Doctor Who magazine, which were reprinted in 2008 by IDW, if you’re interested in checking them out. They’re all decent but not great, but I picked this one because of the presence on art of Bryan Hitch, in one of his earliest appearances (his Wikipedia page claims both that he was born in 1966 and that he was only 17 when he drew this, proving once again that you should take Wikipedia with a grain of salt, but either way, this was early in his career). This honestly looks nothing like the Hitch we’ve come to know and love, as this story came out even before he turned to Alan Davis for spiritual guidance. But let’s check out the page!
Hitch doesn’t have much to do; he draws the blood cell-shaped things (which are, in fact, blood cells or something similar) and makes the “invaders” (some sort of virus) nice and beastly with those yellow eyes and horns. His coloring is nice, with the reds and purples giving us a nice idea of the body in which this action is occurring, while the invaders are a sickly teal. It’s not a bad page visually at all, but it’s not showing anything off, either.
Morrison is a bit odder in this story than he was in yesterday’s, which isn’t surprising. The first sentence in the second panel shows what we can expect from him in the upcoming years: “The electric fog of our syntelligence is alive with the raw mathematics of fear.” If you had read that sentence in 1988 and didn’t like it, you probably would never have to pick up another Morrison comic again, as it’s a nice summary of what kind of writer he is. He sets the stage perfectly well – the invaders from outer space have brought “annihilation and madness,” and all is lost. He’s messing with our expectations, as he will do often enough in the future – we expect these things to be gigantic and the “outer space” to be, well, outer space, but it turns out these are microscopic beings and “outer space” simply means something from beyond their host body. It’s not particularly clever legerdemain, but it shows that Morrison is willing to mess with perceptions of reality, something he will build a career on.
It’s a pretty good first page, though – it’s not too weird, and it’s exciting. I suppose that’s really all we need to move on and read the rest of the story, isn’t it?
Next: Morrison moves to DC. But perhaps it’s not a comic you expect! Check out more unexpected comics in the archives!
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