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Angel of Death

Hellboy 2
by yo go re

Hellboy may be Mike Mignola's baby, but Hellboy II was much more Guillermo del Toro's work. Where the first movie did its best to adapt Seed of Destruction, the sequel was robed in del Toro's love of mystical lands and fantastical creatures, such as the Angel of Death.

When rebellious creatures from the underworld launch an attack on humanity, Hellboy and his team at the B.P.R.D. must fight to once again save the world. Traveling to the underworld, Hellboy faces the Angel of Death, an eyeless being with an ominous eyeless visage, ruler of the dead realm of Bethmora.

Bethmoora (with two O's) is the city created by Lord Dunsany for a story of the same name. Dunsany is one of del Toro's stated influences, so no surprise he got a shout-out in HB2.

Mr. Wink may have been born in the pages of Guillermo del Toro's sketch/notebook, but the Angel of Death is the work of concept artist Wayne Barlowe and engineer Norman Cabrera - under del Toro's direction, of course. In fact, the director's instructions were simple: "Think of every angel of death you've ever seen, and don't do that!" He wanted something bizarre, and that's what he got.

The angel still looks quite typically angelic, at least at a glance, but only in the way that the faun in Pan's Labyrinth looked like a typical satyr. He's wearing a long robe, and he has wings - thus, angel! But this isn't just a skeleton in a robe. Yes, his chest almost looks like a ribcage, but it's inhuman and ornate. He also has layered organic plates on his forearms, which isn't exactly standard-issue.

In order to separate Hellboy's Angel of Death from other versions, one of del Toro's requests was that he not have eyes. Originally the designers took that to mean empty sockets, but the final piece goes far beyond that. The jaw has skin, but the mouth seems to be pulled back in a rictus. He has a hollow nasal cavity, but above that things get crazy. The cheekbones are gigantic, and the upper part of his face is a large, bony crescent, cracked and pitted, but without any space for eyes. The crest, when viewed from the front, serves function as the angel's "halo."

The sculptural detailing on the figure is great. The crinkled robes concealing his lower body flow together and pool around him, and the feathers on his creepy wings look organic. The paint accents the sculpt nicely, with subtle shadows painted on the parchment-colored skin, and a fade to black (or at least dark grey) as you move down toward the ground. His teeth are done cleanly, with the dark gums providing contrast. If there's one thing to watch out for, it's the 14 orange eyes that line his wings: it's not that they're sloppy - quite the opposite, in fact, despite having three apps - but your eyes are going to be drawn to them, and you'll want them to look their best.

The original press release for the Angel of Death said he'd stand 13" tall, which is a bit misleading. Yes, his wings can reach that high, but that's just a measure of how much vertical clearance you'll need, not his actual height. The top of his facebone reaches the 8⅜" mark, which means he's not that much bigger than the rest of the figures. Of course, the press release also cited a 10" wingspan, which is actually lower than reality: at their most compressed, they're 10½" wide, but that can be bumped out to more than 16".

Considering his size, articulation is beyond minimal: there are balljoints at the shoulders, and where the wings plug into the back. That's it. Plus, he's mostly hollow, which is surely going to leave some fans asking where their money is going. However, the articulation is suitable for the figure - he just needs to loom menacingly, not leap tall buildings. Elbows (and especially wrists) would have been appreciated, though. That said, you can really change the figure's look by repositioning the wings, but I'd still like more.

The Angel of Death isn't technically a part of Series 2 of Mezco's Hellboy II figures, though he has just come out at about the same time: he's a big boxed figure, sold all by his lonesome - Series 2 is shown on the back of the box as a cross-sell, so that's as much of a connection as they have. He looks good next to both the 7" and the 3¾" figures, so you can enjoy the Angel no matter which scale you prefer. Yes, the articulation is sparse, but the fact remains that getting this big monster is a rare treat in today's market, and being able to pick it up at retail is even better.


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