I don’t think I need to tell most of you who Hellboy is. While he isn’t one of the most popular comic book/movie crossovers, the name Guillermo Del Toro gave it some recognizability. Blood and Iron is the second Hellboy animated movie to be released straight to DVD. Now I know what most of you are thinking, that straight to DVD is very rarely a good sign, but rest assured, there are some gems out there. For those of us who are comic book fans, most of us are well acquainted with the straight to DVD movie, seeing as most comic book animated movies really only get released in this format. Hellboy:Blood and Iron may suffer from a forgettable release, but is definitely worth checking out.
The animation is solid enough to carry the movie. It has that angular, heavy look that made Mike Mignola’s creation famous. There’s an excellent use of color, as well as the establishment of light and shadow. These may seem like minor details, but the animation style greatly influences the way that the story is told. Most comics either suffer from poor storytelling and good illustration, vice versa, or the rare combination of good storytelling and animation. While a style that was more influenced by Mignola’s work may have been a little appropriate, the animation of Hellboy: Blood and Iron is solid enough that it doesn’t distract.
However, another note to make about Hellboy: Blood and Iron is its use of characters. These are not the characters some of you may have seen in the movies. Hellboy still has that caustic charm, but Liz and Abe are much more hands-on. This obviously means something to those of who have seen the live-action film or films, but for those who haven’t, this animated movie finds a way to utilize other characters besides just Hellboy. It’s a relief because Liz and Abe are deserving of their own storyline (which they sort of get). Hellboy: Blood and Iron also introduces some new characters (besides the villainess) that are nothing too special, but an enjoyable contribution to the series.
Finally, what makes Hellboy: Blood and Iron so interesting as a comic book fan is that, it doesn’t forget its heritage. Most comic books deal with such abstract theories as good and evil, fate, and identity. These are all important ideas in establishing Hellboy’s conscious. At no point does the issue of his identity or where he came from (summoned by the nazis to help them win WWII, for those of you who don’t know) fall by the wayside. He constantly struggles to assert himself as a good guy even though it’s quite clear that he was born out of evil. Hellboy: Blood and Iron once again returns to Hellboy’s struggle to overcome his birthright as an instrument of destruction.
All the factors of Hellboy: Blood and Iron, the animation, the characters themselves, and the comic book mythology are here in this animated feature. True, it has its imperfections, but this DVD is worth looking out for if given the chance. It’s fun and engaging as a comic book piece. Most importantly, Hellboy: Blood and Iron never forgets that it’s a comic book piece. It’s true to its origins from Hellboy’s own story right down to the struggle between good and evil.