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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Superhero > Spy > Supernatural > Action > Comic Books > Mike Mignola Animated Features: Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms + The Amazing Screw-On Head

Mike Mignola Animated Features:


Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: A     Film: B+



The Amazing Screw-On Head


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: A     Film: A



There’s nothing quite like a Mike Mignola comic book.  He brings a perfect blend of graphic story-telling, awesome visuals, and beautifully strange ideas to the printed page.  In the 1990’s his Hellboy comic provided a much-needed shot-in-arm to a comic industry beset by hacks with limited talent and plenty of gold-foil alternate covers to their names.  Mignola was fresh, new, powerful. His pencils evoked the dynamism of the great Walter Simonson with a dark dash of the brooding Bill Sienkiewicz.  It was only a matter of time before Hollywood found Mignola.  The 2004 Hellboy movie nicely captured the comic book while making a few concessions to the live action format it was filmed in.  Just as with Hollywood, it was really only a matter of time before the animators found Mignola.


Hellboy: Sword of Storms (HSOS) and The Amazing Screw-On Head (TASOH) both deliver great Hellboy animated action, but for somewhat different reasons.  TASOH succeeds by exactly simulating Mignola’s style for television.  It’s as if someone cut-up the various panels of that one-shot bit of comic genius and magically animated each one.  Long-time superhero animation fans may remember the classic Marvel Comics cartoons of the 1960’s wherein Jack “King” Kirby’s comic panels were indeed animated in a charming but not so magical fashion.  This present-day process was obviously accomplished through a meticulous adherence to Mignola’s unique style.  This was facilitated by the nature of the project—a 22 minute feature is much easier to faithfully render than a movie length project like HSOS.


HSOS succeeds in delivering Mignola animated goodness through an excellent script, super voice talents drawn directly from the Hellboy movie, and yes, more solid animation.  But there are very few instances where the animators try to match Mignola’s brooding but dynamic style.  HSOS follows its own path, finding its roots in hybrid of Anime and American animation styles.  Both features provide tremendous entertainment value, and pass the litmus test of managing to please hardcore Mignola fans.


For those not in the know, TASOH offers a super-intelligent mechanical being that also happens to be a Spy, disembodied head and works for Abraham Lincoln.  Faster than you can say Wild, Wild West, the president has him on call battling the Emperor Zombie.  Paul Giamatti, David Hyde-Pierce and Molly Shannon are among those handling the voices.


The picture and sound on both titles are solid.  The 1.78 X 1 widescreen presentations on both gives the illusions of a movie-theater experience, and indeed, while watching one can’t help but wonder how wonderful both titles would look in a theater on the big screen.  Because it is animation, especially as richly stylized as it is here in both cases, all it needs to do is look like the comic come alive.  Even technically both are very impressive.  This also extends to the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mixes, also available in slightly weaker Dolby 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surround mixes.  They have decent sound design and in both cases, you’ll be wishing for DTS.


Extras abound on both titles, including short documentaries, interviews with animators, and explorations into the origins of story and character.  HSOS and TASOH are both essential viewing for Hellboy and Mignola fans, and should be a welcome part of any completist’s collection.



-   Scott R. Pyle


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