Zagor against Hellingen – The Destiny of Hellingen, review: the deadly return of the Professor

Zagor against Hellingen – The Destiny of Hellingen, review: the deadly return of the Professor

Zagor against Hellingen – The Destiny of Hellingen, review

After seven volumes, Il Destino di Hellingen concludes the series Zagor against Hellingen, which re-proposed in chronological order the long challenge between the Spirit with the Hatchet and his bitter enemy the mad doctor. It is a real long tail that connects to the events of the previous Invasion Day, incorporating that authorial approach sought by a lysergic Tiziano Sclavi first in Ai Confini della Realtà, and then by Mauro Boselli with the gothic atmospheres of Ombre su Darkwood, for a story that represents the "final" chapter of the fight between Zagor and the diabolical professor in the wake of an ideal return to the character's origins and Nolittian tradition. An operation promoted by the texts by Moreno Burattini (current curator of Zagor) and by the pair composed of Gianni Sedioli and Marco Verni for the drawings: a creative team which, despite having the Zagorian canon as its guiding star, does not give up more robust passages, almost daring and some twists as unexpected as they are winning.

The Fate of Hellingen: The Deadly Return of the Professor

Just when Zagor is informed by Tonka of the disappearance of some Mohawks near the Monete Naatani, where the Akkronians had built their base, the Professor arrives in Darkwood Adolfo Verybad looking for the unlikely help of the Spirit with the Hatchet. In fact, the volcanic professor was approached by a mysterious group of scientists who call themselves the Disciples whose goal is to perpetrate the teachings of an enlightened master. Neither Zagor nor Verybad are slow to understand that the master mentioned in The Disciples is Helligen also because the missing Mohawks are found prisoners inside another Akkronian outpost or perhaps a secret laboratory of the same mad doctor full of even more dangerous inventions such as incredible armor that increases the wearer's strength and speed.

When a group of men equipped with heavy armor is then stolen from a fort in Illinois, the tank that had led to a first resurrection of Hellingen the situation appears dramatic. Not only could someone be working from within Elsewhere, the secret organization of the US government dedicated to studying mysterious facts and fringe science, but all the signs around Mount Naatani suggest that the reckoning will take place at the sinister manor which had been built by the diabolical servants made available by the Wendigo in Hellingen.

Zagor and his men therefore try to infiltrate it but it's too late: the resurrection process has already been started. But neither The Disciples nor Zagor can imagine that, for the umpteenth time, the perfidious genius of the Professor has even worked from another dimension to take revenge in a single blow on Zagor and the Wendigo and to complete the conquest of the civilized world starting from Philadelphia and from Elsewhere base. Only the Spirit with the Hatchet, with a good dose of courage and luck, will be able to prevent the plan from happening.

The Fate of Hellingen: between conspiracies and revenge

To "definitively" conclude the struggle between the Spirit with the Hatchet and the mad doctor, in The Fate of Hellingen, Moreno Burattini definitively embraces the inspiration nolittiana not so much in content as in the narrative structure of this latest battle. In fact, to the eyes of an inattentive reader, the numerous passages in analyses could seem almost redundant or excessively didactic but in reality they build an increasingly tense tension line between the memory of previous clashes (and therefore bringing Zagorian continuity back to the fore) and a robust third act of the story with a fast pace and a dramatic and unpredictable resolution. Burattini thus works by recovering elements from previous stories but bending them in a decidedly more "modern" and snappy sense, such as the classic weird science ones that had characterized the first clashes between Zagor and Hellingen, against the background of a conspiracy involving Elsewhere (undoubtedly one of the more effective introduced in the Zagorian canon) and which finds its raison d'être in the double, if not even triple, vengeance of Hellingen. The author, for this last chapter, therefore goes to the heart of the perfidious mad doctor, a real agent of evil impossible to redeem (we had already understood this in reality in the previous volume when information on his past and his delusional eugenic theories) moved by an atavistic hatred and thirst for revenge that do not spare even diabolical entities from other dimensions such as the Wendigo. Yet Hellingen is perhaps Zagor's greatest antagonist because better than all the others he represents the selfishness and arrogance of the human being as demonstrated by the final scene of the volume.

In the wake of another inspiration, that of Gallieno Ferri, instead moves the work of Gianni Sedioli and Marco Verni to the drawings. Ferri's graphic canon returns to dominate for the last clash between Zagor and Hellingen and it could not be otherwise. The plate is constructed in full compliance with the classic scheme of the two panels arranged in three horizontal rows where the rare exceptions (double quadruple, vertical shifts or full-page compositions for passages in analyses) do nothing but reinforce the iteration of the scheme itself aspect that makes reading smooth and fast. From the point of view of the sign, however, the Zagor of Sedioli and Verni, like that of Ferri, is nervous and snappy with particular attention to the drama of the expressions. The line is as long and continuous as possible, the use of hatching is considered, preferring instead the classic contrast between full and empty spaces of chiaroscuro to give depth to the whole. The "ray-shaped" solutions for the sequences in analyses are interesting and unusual. The proof of the two designers is very solid and certainly satisfies the expectations of the hard core of Zagorian readers who have always been linked to Ferri's canon, above all for stories involving historical characters and/or villains of the Spirit with the Hatchet.

The volume

With the seventh and last volume of the series Zagor against Hellingen, the modular image of the rib is now complete and Zagor can dart hanging from a liana in the Darkwood forest. It goes without saying that the graphic layout of the volumes, as conceived by Sergio Bonelli Editore, is extremely effective and easily recognisable. The cover and the title of this sixth volume, Il Destino di Hellingen, are taken from those of the homonymous Zagor 650. It should be noted that it is one of the slimmest volumes in the series with a foliation of only 304 pages entrusted to the usual packaging, i.e. a softcover volume with an excellent binding that allows an always agile reading, 16×21 cm format, in traditional black and white with uncoated paper.

The editorial contribution signed by Moreno Burattini is to all intents and purposes a long and articulated summary of the previous clashes between Zagor and Hellingen. An easily not particularly original choice but easily attributable to the need to refresh the memory of readers, especially the more casual ones, on the Zagorian continuity also with regard to Hellingen's other appearances - in the third special Dylan Dog & Martin Mystere - The abyss of evil of 2018, which therefore precedes this story, and then in the most recent crossover volume Zagor / Flash – La Scure e il Fulmine. Also noteworthy are the presence of two full-bodied biographical notes dedicated to the designers Gianni Sedioli Gianni and Marco Verni. The original albums contained within the volume are indicated (Zagor 648-650 of July/September 2019) but at the beginning of the introduction as well as, in addition to a series of cartoons taken from the previous clashes between Zagor and Hellingen which act as a corollary to the texts, the covers of the original albums are present, even if the author Alessandro Piccinelli is not mentioned.

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