I've heard and read reviews of this book that seemed to come from the outside. The "outside" being people who are trying too hard to legitimize something that makes no excuses for itself. Hellboy is and always has been a quirky, dark, gothic adventure that is visually stunning as well as primal and disturbing. This collection is an intriguing effort. It has no complete story to tell. Rating each story is futile since the themes vary as well as the design and purpose for each story. Some are an excuse to show Hellboy in an outlandish conflict while others have moments that touch me to the core so profound is the effect of specific sequences. There lies the surprise. No solid premise is present in these little stories. They're like a sketchbook. Some rough ideas are presented as well as finely crafted "images". Every one was written and drawn with a purpose but there's no effort to weave them together in a sequence. The tone in a story like The Chained Coffin is so different from The Corpse that, other than the main character, they share little in common. However, even as they share so little in content, they both speak of a world in the shadow of our own. The world Mike Mignola has created is as sharp as a knife blade cutting across your palm and as subtle as the wings in the night. So eclectic is this collection that it is the perfect introduction to Mignola's creation, Hellboy. Hellboy is brusque, loyal, funny, profound, conflicted and committed. He is all of these and more while uttering few words between blasts of combative, bloody, violence in a nighted world of ancient evil and devious purpose. I wish more writers could do so much with what, sometimes, appears to be so little.