Weird Tales - Volume Two

Authors: Various
Artists: Various
Titan Books
RRP 12.99
ISBN 1 84023 997 2
Available 26 November 2004

An exceptional collection of wild and wonderful stories with contributions by some of the biggest names working in comics today. This collection includes nerve jangling horror stories, brooding stories of pathos and loss, as well as the complete pulp adventures of Lobster Johnson...

The second volume of Hellboy: Weird Tales is, to be quite honest, not really up to the standards that were set in the first volume. That's not to say that this is a disaster - far from it - just that it could have been so much better.

The collection gets off on the right foot with Craig Thompson's very funny and twisted My Vacation in Hell. This follows Hellboy as he takes a break from his work at The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence (B.P.R.D.). And how does our hero relax? The clue's in the title. Some of my favourite scenes included the Gastrointestinal Waterpark, the soft serve ice cream dispenser in Concessions, and the Butt-Trumpet Induced Headache.

Other highlights include Will Pfeifer and P. Craig Russell's Command Performance (The Grad Guignol Theater [sic] Troupe certainly know how to bring the house down) and Evan Dorkin's Professional Help (which throws more than a few surprises your way). I also enjoyed, but probably shouldn't have, Jill Thompson's rather corny Fifteen Minutes. Which looks at... we'll, I can't go into details on this story as the whole point of it would be spoiled.

The tales that didn't work, for me personally, were the ones that didn't add anything to the Hellboy universe. There are one too many stories in here that really didn't belong in the B.P.R.D. universe - as though a few of the writers had simply transferred some poorly thought out ideas from another project and tried to make them work here.

On balance, this is an enjoyable collection, but there are a few too many half hearted attempts to tell a good yarn.

Darren Rea

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