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Red Right Hand

n.b. This was initally posted Monday evening, when we realized things were going wrong with the blog, and this realization arose from the fact that I don’t believe the post ever arrived in a form visible to people other than me. Now that we’ve settled into our piratical new home, I can revive it. Remember this is Monday Me, far less world-weary and generally weary. I’m not sure I agree with myself anymore.

I had a fun weekend, though not a relaxing one, so most details will have to wait until I’m more alert. I must be getting old; this time change has done me in! But I know you want to hear about Hellboy before I toddle off to bed.

First, though, a message for Rick Geerling. I went ahead and bought the Negative Burn collections for the first and second years. So far so good, but I hope to say more later.

Now, Hellboy! We liked it. I thought it was a lot of fun. I haven’t read many of the Hellboy stories, but I think the movie could have benefited from a certain sort of adherence to their mold. I’m just not especially interested in stories where the fate of the world is at stake. This is an ongoing problem with superhero stories in general and particularly in movies. I just think superhero movies would be more fun for me if they weren’t action movies (and I realize there’s no hope for this coming true) and the same holds for roleplaying games. I prefer smaller stakes because that leaves more room for character development, for personal impact. Then again, this could be linked to my peculiar disdain for property damage in standard Hollywood action sequences, too.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m not a purist who was offended by the love story in Hellboy, but I would much rather have seen more of a Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense slice-of-life story, in which a love story would fit, than the way the love story got manipulated by the Bigger Plot into something more trite than special. A lot of things would fit, like more pamcakes scenes, and there would still be fights. But it would be easier for me to get invested if it were just another day, another monster, none of this threat of eldritch horror from another dimension melodrama shit. And I think if this weren’t set up like a video game with a final confrontation with the biggest baddie maybe other people wouldn’t have minded the special effects or the rather standard way in which the threats are resolved. And maybe if the movie hadn’t been set up to culminate in one big magic moment the creators could have focused instead on expanding the characters to let the audience connect with them.

And I’m saying all this as someone who had a great time at the movie. I’d prefer something different, but that’s how I feel after I see many films. And Hellboy featured excellent performances, allowing for plenty of characterization (at least for the good guys) in a fairly small space, so it wasn’t totally lacking. I’m just curious why this is the way superhero movie stories have to work, since it’s the characters rather than the deeds that keep people coming back, right? I realize Superman’s death sold awfully well, but I don’t think people follow Wolverine for years just because they can’t wait to see who he’ll slice next. Or maybe I’m wrong. I’m not in the target demographic for superhero comics or Hollywood movies, but I sure wouldn’t mind a film that catered to me more. But I know what sells best is big explosions in HDTV surround-sound, and that doesn’t interest me. I’d like more cigar-lighting scenes, more stock heroic poses in moments of pain rather than victory, more pivotal Nick Cave moments (or Leonard Cohen, if applicable) and more pamcakes. Definitely more pamcakes.


  1. Shane says:

    hey, i didn’t realize they collected those. Negative Burn issues. I picked those up at a Flea Market for like a quarter an issue a long long time ago. I loved every minute of the time I spent reading those. I’ll have to get the collections too.

    — 15 April 2004 at 8:54 pm (Permalink)

  2. David Fiore says:


    I haven’t seen Hellboy, but I’m telling you, I’d feel a lot better if the future of superhero film adaptations was in your hands rather in Avi Arad’s. Fight scenes? I often skip them in the comics, but you can’t do it when you’re at the thatre! I’m telling you, I know I could write a Captain America or Doctor Strange film that had no fighting at all… ah well, this is pipe-dreamin’ of the very first order, right?


    — 16 April 2004 at 2:16 am (Permalink)

  3. Dave Intermittent says:

    A Nick Cave moment? Hmmm. I was going to see Hellboy anyway, but it may take a big jump to the front of the line.

    Also, apropos of above, brilliant post title.


    — 16 April 2004 at 2:47 am (Permalink)

  4. Rose says:

    Ooh, I can do lots of answers at once! Or I could space them out and inflate my comment count, I guess. So many options.

    Shane, I think they’re Best Of collections, but it’s possible some of the stories were previously unpublished. I, too, got most of my Negative Burn from quarter bins. These trades were about $10 each, and I assume they’re out of print, what with Caliber being long gone.

    Dave F., I’m glad you agree! I often do little more than skim fight scenes, which probably doesn’t enhance my understanding of the comics I read. Still, it’s not that I think all violence has to go. It would be hard to imagine Hellboy doing his job without some violent interludes, but I take issue with the scale of the violence. Well, maybe not even that. The violence was pretty unimpressive for stuff that’s supposed to save our reality. So I would have been happier if they’d kept that salvation sequence out of it and just had little skirmishes. I think we know The Punisher will be awfully bloody, and I have a frightened feeling that they’re going to try to make Man-Thinga horror movie with horror movie gore. I hope not, because Man-Thing is such a sad, glorious character that he’d be more moving if not too many people burned at his touch.

    And Dave I., I stole my title from the song in question, but I couldn’t think of any better titles. It’s a cover, but an excellent and faithful one, and I bounced in my seat the whole time it played. If anyone had been near us, I would have behaved, but luckily I didn’t have to and could eat nachos and elbow Steven whenever I wanted to.


    — 16 April 2004 at 10:38 am (Permalink)

  5. Hung Nguyen says:

    Have you heard Nick Cave’s song “Red Right Hand”? It seems pretty obvious he’s referring to Hellboy.

    — 5 July 2006 at 3:13 am (Permalink)

  6. s says:

    Red Right Hand is a reference to John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

    — 14 August 2006 at 6:09 am (Permalink)