The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack





Odd Jobs by Various Authors

Hellboy is back in this collection of short stories that drop him in the deep end time and again but with a lot of variety. So, when he’s not facing down Medusa, he’s figuring out how to handle U.S. Congressmen possessed by demons, or how to find a murderer’s hand as it scurries around seeking new victims. The best story was a tale in a bar where Hellboy explains how a serial murderer got to continue killing people after he himself was executed. Overall, it’s a fun collection that lets Hellboy strut his stuff.

In Order

1 The Lost Army by Christopher Golden

Christopher Golden always gives a good story. This time he’s writing in the world of Hellboy, a character I’ve been aware of for a long time but know very little about. Hellboy works for an agency that identifies and eliminates supernatural threats. He’s called to join a search and rescue team in the Sahara after an archaeological team disappears. It turns out they disappeared in the same area that 50,000 Persian soldiers vanished more than 2000 years before. And yes, everyone knows from moment one that there is a connection between the two events.

The book is very fast paced. It pulled me right in and kept me reading when I really had other things I should be doing. Hellboy is a fun character. He’s got attitude, and he’s really tough, and he’s exceedingly brave. He’s also, despite his name, a really and truly good person—much more so than many of the other characters in the story. He’s happy to destroy supernatural threats but very worried about ordinary humans coming to harm—even those possessed by the bad guys.

There is great atmosphere in this book as well. The supernatural permeates everything that happens whether it is dead soldiers coming back to life, a lake monster, giant spiders, mystical oracles, or the big bad guys. I’m definitely going to read more of these Hellboy novels.

2 The Bones of Giants by Christopher Golden

What could be better than mixing Hellboy and Thor together in the same story? Mixing them up in Hellboy’s body! That’s the basic plot of this Hellboy novel. When the remains of the God of Thunder are discovered with his hammer, Hellboy accidentally gets Mjolnir grafted to his hand and the God of Thunder stuck in his head. He also gets the problem of an ancient Frost Giant trying to resurrect himself from his old bones so he can take over all the Norse realms including the one we live in, Midgard.

There’s a lot of delightful Norse mythology pulled together for this story and plenty of really tough foes for Hellboy to try out his new hammer on. There are also some human opponents who seem to be worried that Hellboy is trying to steal the priceless artifact grafted to his hand. Mostly, however, it’s just pure and simple action—Hellboy style. If you like the comics or the novels, you’ll love this story.

The Ice Wolves by Mark Chadbourn

Werewolves are appearing all across the world and heading toward the United States. The creatures seem to be converging on the Grant Mansion—rumored to be the most haunted spot in America. Hellboy is sent to try and stop them by finding an artifact called the Kiss of Winter which he believes is hidden in the mansion. The real joy of the story is exploring the spectacularly haunted house. Some of the haunts are benign but the majority are very evil and they cause lots of trouble.

The history of the mansion becomes critical to the story—in fact, I think you could argue that the mansion and its caretakers are the real story. Hellboy isn’t just along for the ride—his martial capabilities are key to buying enough time for the screwed-up family that is tied to the house to work out their problems—but it is those problems that are the real story here. The werewolves and the threat they present create the crisis that forces the family to work through their issues.

This is a fun book with both mystery and action aplenty.