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YOUNG HELLBOY: THE HIDDEN LAND #1 (Mignola, Sniegoski, Rousseau, Robins, Stewart) review & interview with co-writer Tom Sniegoski

Thanks to David Hyde/Superfan Promotions LLC for the review copy!

Hellboy is one of the more recognizable comic characters outside of Marvel and DC, with two excellent movies (and one really bad one) under his belt to go along with a long running comic series. The series takes us way back to 1947, when Hellboy was a little…boy. This provides an opportunity to strip away much of the established canon (because it hasn’t happened yet) and focus on the father-son relationship between Hellboy and Professor Bruttenholm.  

Interestingly, along with a younger title character, judging by this first in a four part series, this book is also meant to be accessible to younger audiences. While the character design and art overall generally fits within the Hellboy aesthetic, this book is colored much more brightly than a regular Hellboy book. In another impressive feat, young Hellboy’s dialogue feels like an authentic younger version of Hellboy. Along with his youth comes a youthful optimism that is absent from the adult Hellboy we have come to know.  As a result, we have a fresh look at a well known character that feels authentic.

The plot similarly takes the customary Hellboy supernatural monster touchpoints, but makes them accessible. You don’t need any prior knowledge of the creatures, which means you can pick up this issue and jump right in. There is violence (and some blood), but it is not as grotesque or creepy as I’ve become accustomed to. This book probably wouldn’t be rated G if it was a movie, but it is definitely appropriate for younger audiences than other Hellboy stories. 

I don’t say any of this to mean that adults won’t enjoy this book. I found it nailed the balance of appealing to adult fans of Hellboy and new readers who may not be as familiar with him. You don’t really need to know much about Hellboy to understand this book, though some understanding of his origins will be helpful. YOUNG HELLBOY: THE HIDDEN LAND does a great job of staying true to the character and Hellboy universe, while adding something new and fresh. As a result this series is a great entry point for people who haven’t read a Hellboy comic as well as a fun new way to look at the character for longtime fans.

After I had reviewed the comic, I had the opportunity to interview co-writer Thomas Sniegoski about YOUNG HELLBOY: THE HIDDEN LAND:

Darren: What were your goals in writing a series about a young version of Hellboy?

Tom Sniegoski: The number one goal for Mike and I when coming up with, and writing this particular Hellboy adventure was–fun! We wanted this series to feel different than the other Hellboy stories, but not unfamiliar. It’s certainly a Hellboy story, but it’s lighter mainly due to our protagonist’s early views of the world and we’re experiencing this through his young eyes. 

DarrenAt least through issue 1, this series seems more accessible to younger audiences than the typical Hellboy comic.  What was your target demographic in writing this story?

Tom Sniegoski: Honestly?  We just wanted to do a really fun, and exciting Hellboy comic. We wanted everybody to be able to come to this book and have a good time. I think it was Chris Golden that said that this series has a cool, all ages feel like the stuff I did with Jeff Smith on BONE. If that’s the case, I’ll take it!  

Darren: Writing a prequel series can be difficult because you are working with established characters and a long built up canon. How did you prepare to write for this story, and were there any challenges in doing so?

Tom Sniegoski: First off, I’m a HUGE Hellboy geek, so the canon is kinda rattling around inside my melon just about all the time, so that wasn’t any real problem . . .and second, Mike was right there to make sure we weren’t doing anything out of line. He has a very specific timeline for Hellboy, so we were in really good hands there. The main thing we needed to be sure of was the year in which the story takes place . . . and to make sure all the established characters were behaving like they were supposed to. 

Darren: How did you stay true to the Hellboy character while writing this younger version with his own voice?

Tom Sniegoski: Hellboy has a very distinct voice . . . so the voice that was used in this series was that voice, only much younger. This version of Hellboy is still fresh, looking at the world with wonder and we needed to reflect that ‘Gee-Whiz’ wonder in the way he spoke. 

Darren: Young Hellboy is billed as a four part story. What’s next for Young Hellboy?

Tom Sniegoski: Well, if folks like this one, hopefully there will be more adventures to tell . . . I know I’m completely on board for that. We’ll just have to cross all our fingers and toes and hope for the best. 

Darren: Thanks again for your time Tom!

YOUNG HELLBOY: THE HIDDEN LAND #1 is set for release on February 17th 2021.

Check back in a few weeks for my thoughts on the 2nd issue of this four part series.

Are you going to pick up the issue? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter!

Darren Shulman
Darren Shulman
Darren is a professional lawyer and amateur movie/comic/TV reviewer who is lucky enough to have found a wife who is into the same geeky things he is. Darren has been making the trip from Ohio to San Diego Comic-Con since 2009. Other interests include, in no particular order: monkeys, LEGO, dinosaurs, and playing basketball poorly.

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