I was tempted to label this romp into Hellboy’s childhood as a firm departure from his career in paranormal investigation. Wrong. So, so wrong. The Midnight Circus is no less paranormal (and no less ghost/demon-filled) than any other Hellboy story. One thing it most definitely is? A welcome look into the odd and sometimes macabre childhood that shaped everyone’s favorite (obviously) anti-hero.
The Midnight Circus takes place in 1948 during Hellboy’s youth, when he was as prone to mischief and rule-breaking as in his adult life–which is to say, a lot. Feeling dismissed and out of place by the adults (his age, not his inhuman-ness, seems to be the issue), the restless youngster runs away from the base and finds a circus flyer nailed to a tree. Hellboy is immediately intrigued by a show that goes “from the clock strikes twelve to the fearful crack of dawn”. Who wouldn’t be? He quickly finds though, that this is no ordinary circus, as its demon-in-disguise denizens spring a trap designed to prematurely fulfill his dark destiny. Supernatural and psychological stuff ensues, naturally. Here’s a sample for ya.
Enough potential spoilage. This was a really great, quick read. I couldn’t help but hesitate when it came to checking out this prequel-y aside from Hellboy’s childhood; what if it didn’t do my favorite comic character of all time justice? Well…it did, because Mike Mignola doesn’t mess around with his flagship, do-gooding badass, no matter his age. I loved Midnight Circus. It’s out in trade paperback, so pick it up and join young Hellboy on an adventure. Oh, and if you ever thought there were parallels and/or metaphors to be made between Hellboy’s identity and Pinocchio, then you’re either a genius or clairvoyant. Or maybe I’m just a little dense.
Images from Dark Horse Comics.