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by yo go re

Changes must be made to any comicbook adapted to film - what works on the page doesn't always work in action. Whether it's the X-Men's black uniforms or placing the Punisher in Florida, fans have to learn to accept minor tweaks. Or at least to learn to tell the difference between the changes that will mean an improvement (Spider-Man's got organic webshooters) from those that don't matter (Kingpin's black) and those that are just nuts (Hulk's dad is the Absorbing Man).

Hellboy made it to the screen relatively unchanged. Various studios that were offered the project wanted him alternately to look like a normal guy, turn red when he got angry or even have a Hellmobile, a Hellcave and a little red Helldog. As it is, the most substantial change HB went through himself was that he now wore pants and shoes.

An example of a major change that worked for the better is Hellboy's foe Kroenen. I know Rustin was a bit unsure about the Nazi ninja ballerina shown in the commercials, but in the comic, Kroenen was a guy in a cool outfit who stood around and died. In the film, he's much more dynamic.

Kroenen Karl Ruprect Kroenen was born in Munich in 1897. Kroenen suffered from a masochistic compulsion commonly known as surgical addiction and extended his life through mechanical means, turning himself into a clockwork monster in the process. Long a practioner of the dark arts, he joined with Hitler's inner circle of Nazi mystics in order to futher his need for more power. The blood in his veins dried up decades ago; only dust remains - the suit which keeps him alive is powered by the ancient power of the river Nile and the souls he has captured.

Director Guillermo del Toro (Spanish for "Kevin Smith") took someone that was just an interesting design and turned him into an interesting character. And now Mez and his crew have turned him into an interesting piece of plastic.

This figure is "modern-day" Kroenen: instead of the raincoat, service cap and button-up jacket he had during WWII, he's stripped down to his black and gold containment suit. The metal breastplate is very detailed, and has a nice wash to bring out the sculpt. It would have been cool if you could turn the little dial over his heart, but that probably would have been too hard to pull off.

boo! Speaking of pulling things off, Kroenen's mask is removable. The face beneath, twisted and scarred, looks just as creepy as it did on film - as Professor Bruttenholm said, "both eyelids surgically removed, along with his upper and lower lip." Del Toro is a very skilled horror director, and he knows just how much to show in order to scare the audience without numbing them to the experience. We never really get a clear, lingering look at Kroenen, just glimpses, and it does more to unnerve viewers than any cheap frightfest could ever hope to accomplish.

turn his crank A master of edged weapons, Kroenen's got a few knives sculpted on his shoulders and hips. He comes with the two baton-style swords that he used so effectively to cut down whoever stood in his way. The blades are 3" long and fit rather snugly in his fists. The handles seem a bit thin, so you might want to be careful putting them in place.

Kroenen's supposed to be a rather lithe fellow, and his articulation backs that up: he moves at the head, neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees, ankles and feet. The feet are horizontal pegjoints, just like Abe Sapien's, to help provide a stable base. The knees are double-jointed, and it might have helped if the elbows were, too: just that little extra added bit of motion.

The biggest disappointment in this set has to be More masks! that there is only one mask included. Kroenen had a whole selection, with different facades and colors. As popular as the Hellboy line has proved to be, I hope that Mezco gives us a second series, perhaps with a WWII-era Kroenen and a selection of new mask pack-ins designed to fit on either figure.

Guillermo del Toro says Mezco's making Hellboy Series 2 - what do you want to see? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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