There's magic to be found at the circus. Mischief, too. Especially when creepy clowns bang noisy drums in the middle of the night down dark, lonely roads to attract the attention of little boys. Little hellboys, that is.
Mike Mignola (story) and Duncan Fegredo (art) provide the mischief, and colorist Dave Stewart adds the sinister atmosphere in this short graphic novel that takes place when Hellboy's too young to smoke, but old enough to be tempted to burn.
He's also too energetic to be cooped up in the dusty confines of the Paranormal Research and Defense Headquarters, circa 1948, so he sneaks out in the dead of night to grab a puff or two. But something else is looking to grab him instead.
Also sneaking about, "from the clock strikes midnight...to the fearful crack of dawn" is a creepy circus with strange animals and stranger attractions, which would give Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show serious competition.
Enticing him into the wondrous rings of the big tent is a mysterious ringmaster with nefarious plans, and his daughter, who also has a few sinister plans of her own. Both father and daughter have a hellish time seeing eye to eye, but each one has their eyes dead set on the little red hellion with a promising future: for evil or good.
We know which way they'd like to see him go even if he doesn't. In turn, they try to entice the little kid with the big red hand into a future potential that's different than he or anyone else back at headquarters had thought about; except for one worrywart quoting ominous passages from books no one else is reading.
The artwork dutifully captures the mystery and the damnation while the story delivers all the circus devil-fleas and Hellboy could-bes you would expect from Mike Mignola, especially as experienced through young Hellboy's desire to grow up faster than he really ought to.
This title will be available October 23, 2013.