Feature: Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea #2 Reviews 

Mignolaversity: “Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea” #2

By and | June 14th, 2023
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Mignolaversity Logo

In the first issue of “Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea” we saw how seamlessly writer Mike Mignola and artist Jesse Lonergan work together. In this second issue, we see the more dramatic side of that collaboration emerge, with Mignola indulging in the grand mythology he so loves in his stories, and Lonergan taking that energy and pouring it into his page layouts, resulting in one of the most powerful sequences in the Hellboy Universe in recent memory. Read on for our very extremely spoiler-filled review.

Written by Mike Mignola
Illustrated by Jesse Lonergan
Lettered by Clem Robins

After discovering a shocking truth connecting her to a gladiator from Ancient Hyperborea, the timid Victorian Miss Truesdale is forced to confront the horrifying evils and mysteries that lurk in what once felt like ancient history. . .

Hellboy creator Mike Mignola teams up with artist Jesse Lonergan to bring you the second installment of a new tale of Hyperborea!

Mark Tweedale: We kept our review from issue #1 a spoiler-lite affair, so there was actually quite a bit we didn’t discuss. Before we dive into the second issue, there’s a few things from the last I’d like to go over. First and foremost, Anum Yassa’s red right hand. Given how important the Watcher Anum is to Hyperborean culture, I thoughtlessly assumed this element was simply a part of her outfit worn to honor Anum. I mean, Anum Yassa even has part of Anum’s name in her own. It just seems like a cultural thing. And if a red right hand showed up in any other Hellboy Universe story, that’s what I’d think. Anything related to a red right hand, that’s obviously connected to Anum. . .

But, as I said, this was a thoughtless assumption. The second I actually consciously thought about it, I realized that at this point in history, the events that created the red right hand iconography haven’t happened yet. The statue containing Anum’s hand has not come to life. It has not vented its rage against the Hyperboreans, staining the statue’s stone hand red with their blood.

“Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea” #1
Variant cover by Mike Mignola
Colors by Dave Stewart
So I have to wonder about the connection Mignola and Lonergan are implying with Anum Yassa with her costume design. Because my gut reaction was that they’re saying that Anum Yassa and Miss Truesdale are Hellboy’s past lives, and I haven’t been able to shake that thought since it popped into my head.

James Dowling: Yeah, it would make sense with his maternal ancestry being so wrapped up in this world’s history of witchcraft to tie him into Miss Truesdale and her own dual identity. They’re strong foils, which would make her a great precursor to Hellboy.

After seeing the cover for issue #4, it does seem like the series is looking to comment on the history of mythic heroes across the wide time frame this book straddles. It could just be, like how “The Sword of Hyperborea” used its titular weapon, the Right Hand of Doom might be the MacGuffin to bring the story’s timeline together. I really loved how reverent Mignola’s dialogue seemed when the red right hand was introduced, his voice as an author feels perfectly unshaken from the stories that inspired this twenty-odd years ago.

Mark: This is especially true as we get into issue #2. I think it’s fair to say this issue owes a lot to “Hellboy: The Island,” which is a favorite of mine. With a title like “Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea,” it was inevitable that this story would connect with what we saw of the fall of Hyperborea in ‘The Island.’ That said, what we saw in ‘The Island’ was so limited—Mignola aimed to evoke rather than show, and by doing so my mind conjured something epic, something impossible to truly capture on the page. And that’s lived in my mind for nearly twenty years. How can “Miss Truesdale” possibly do anything other than disappoint under the weight of such expectations?

Continued below

From “Hellboy: The Island” #2
Art by Mike Mignola; colors by Dave Stewart

Well, by having Jesse Longergan lean into the idea of evoking, not showing. When Mignola and Lonergan want to show the statue coming to life, they simply show the statue on its plinth in one panel, and then in the next there’s just a lonely plinth. Everything else is conjured in the reader’s head. My god, this sequence gave me goosebumps. And I think it works because it’s never put in direct competition with the sequence in my head, but rather it takes Anum Yassa’s story and all the powerful emotions connected with it, and then grafts those emotions onto it. Nothing undermines that sequence in my head, but instead, “Miss Truesdale” deepens the emotional component of it.

James: That’s a huge strength to this book and what it uses Lonergan’s formalistic style for; it can graft concepts together perfectly. Even just between the first issue and this, they use the sporadic timeline in different ways. Issue #1 felt urgent and cohesive in order to be visceral, but issue #2 gets to be a bit more ephemeral in order to play to that mythology. From a plot standpoint it makes sense, since this is Miss Truesdale dwelling on the narrative rather than having it communicated to her, but it really works for the substance too.

I don’t want to go too wide in scope for a review of a single issue, but it definitely feels like that’s the predominant skill set for this “epilogue” era of Hellboy Universe stories. They’re able to play into the mythic aspect of those initial stories like ‘The Island,’ while being additive, instead of going reductive through introducing scale.

Mark: Yeah, there’s nothing worse than a prequel just ticking off a list of things to explain. This is definitely not that. If you don’t mind, I’m going to jump back to issue #1 for a moment, because there’s a bit in there that perfectly exemplifies the kind of storytelling Mignola and Lonergan are doing in this book. It’s right after Anum Yassa’s fight.

From “Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea” #1

At this point, we’ve been introduced to her as she’s seen by the Hyperborean masses, as a powerful warrior. She has just won the fight, and yet look at that first panel; this panel does not show power. It shows isolation. Unlike the fight scene, where the chanting of her name seemed to fuel her adrenalin, here it hangs over her head along with heavy blackness. The panel is composed in such a way as to invite the reader into Anum Yassa’s headspace.

Then in the next four panels, Anum Yassa sits down, but instead of tending to her wounds, she first tends to her ax. At this point in the story, the ax is just an ax, and means nothing to the reader, but with this panel we now understand that it means something to her.

“Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea” is full of compositional choices that tap into the large mythical tapestry, but that’s only half the picture. The other half is moments like this, where before we’re given the strange story of the ax, we get the much more important detail that this is something Anum Yassa cares for. And when the story of the ax connects it to her family, we now understand that her caring for this ax is a matter of keeping this connection to her family alive. Though they are apart now, they matter to her.

We are invited to experience aspects of the story through character first and plot second, and that’s what gives the mythic elements such a punch. It’s why the statue stepping down from the plinth works as well as it does.

James: It’s impressive how that one page builds up such a nuanced and mythic gladiatorial archetype. You mentioned in our review of the last issue that Jesse Lonergan had done a study of ‘Wolves of Saint August’ in preparation for this series, and while you can definitely see that in the action, pages like this really bring it to life too. There’s this great contrast in the composition between bombastic elements, like the wall of cheering sound, and the rigid panels that Anum Yassa almost has to squeeze into.

Continued below

The second issue really works that balance well. Its pages are a study in contrast, with Lonergan arguably restraining his bombastic approach to page layouts in order to build a deliberate graphic style. Focal images help scale a scene, while bombastic action allows for deliberate shifts in mood even as the pages remain locked into compact geometric layouts.

There is a lot that this book has managed to innovate, but just the meter of its storytelling is remarkable.

Mark: It’s interesting that you mentioned the contrasts in the issue #1 gladiatorial scene, because I think that scene was composed around the rematch in this second issue. In the first, we keep cutting to the chanting crowd, and in the second issue, there is no crowd, but we still cut away to empty panels of the garden. It summons up the idea of unseen and silent watchers. There are more present in this scene than just Anum Yassa and her opponents, though it isn’t explicitly shown, we sense their presence.

We also get this great build with the colors in this scene, where there’s the dull green neutral background color, the blue representing those associated with the Black Goddess and her cult, and then yellow for Anum Yassa and the watcher Anum. As Anum Yassa starts winning and she gets closer to the statue, the sequence becomes more and more yellow until an act of violence interrupts that moment and the yellow vanishes. It returns again in the tears of the watcher. Then everything descends from yellows to reds, culminating in the closeup of the stone hand now stained red with blood.

James: I hadn’t even thought about that progression of color within the scene, I do like the focus on primaries though, it helps this mythic era feel more vivid and defined, while the ‘real world’ of Victorian London is drab, dated, and sepia. Dave Stewart’s work rarely uses a red/blue contrast, but with Lonergan’s adaptation of that palette he’s found a way to fit it in really effectively. It’s almost because of its simplicity that it’s effective, another way in which Lonergan has used familiar elements in creative ways through distilling the overarching idea while embellishing it in the microscale.

Mark: Yes, part of why Lonergan’s colors work is because they’re in conversation with what Stewart’s established. But the key point is that it is in conversation; it’s not mimicry.

I thoroughly enjoyed the issue. If there’s one criticism it’s that we didn’t get more Jenks and Dean at the end!

James: Yeah, they were just about the best surprise we could have had at the end of last issue, especially after coming out of our crusade review series of “Koshchei in Hell.” Their encyclopedic epilogue helped tie both settings together, giving an alternative victorian outlook on the Hyperborean era, giving a classical understanding from two other outside narrators.

Mark: It was also just a great way to lift the weight a bit. Jenks and Dean are kind of like an aspect of the fandom in comics form. I mean, those two guys could’ve been Tweedale and Dowling. . .

The big question is where do we go from here? This is “Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea” after all, and the fall of Hyperborea part of that title is pretty much covered here. I’m really looking forward to exploring Miss Truesdale further, and I like that she’s an unknown element. I’ve said it before, but no one writes a prequel like Mike Mignola. You never get a sense that he’s just checking off a list of things the fans need to see—he’s taking us on this journey to show us something new.

James: Yeah, it’s a book that feels enthusiastic about its own content. It’s not just answering a laundry list of questions, it’s trying to present a new visual language and a new perspective to understand those questions we had before.

Mark: We should probably wrap this up before I launch into an enthusiastic rant about Lonergan’s page layouts. . . Instead, I’ll just leave this, my favorite layout choice, here.

Continued below

I’m going with a 9.5. I had goosebumps while reading the last third of this issue. It truly was masterfully done.

James: Same, it’s a 9.5, this issue is as evocative as it is climactic. Where the first issue provided a powerful commentary on the stratifying effect of urban decay, this follow up asks the reader to look at the dizzying nature of mythic fiction, and feels confident in its presentation the whole time.

Final Verdict: 9.5. “Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea” #2 proves the symbiosis of Mignola and Lonergan is more than the sum of its parts. As its intertwined protagonists move through the fall of Hyperborea, Lonergan appears to relish in the freedom he has to express theme and character through his art.

//TAGS | Mignolaversity

James Dowling

James Dowling is probably the last person on Earth who enjoyed the film Real Steel. He has other weird opinions about Hellboy, CHVRCHES, Squirrel Girl and the disappearance of Harold Holt. Follow him @James_Dow1ing on Twitter if you want to argue about Hugh Jackman's best film to date.


Mark Tweedale

Mark writes Haunted Trails, The Harrow County Observer, The Damned Speakeasy, and a bunch of stuff for Mignolaversity. An animator and an eternal Tintin fan, he spends his free time reading comics, listening to film scores, watching far too many video essays, and consuming the finest dark chocolates. You can find him on BlueSky.


  • Feature: Bowling with Corpses & Other Strange Tales from Lands Unknown News
    Mignola Launching Curious Objects Imprint with “Bowling With Corpses & Other Strange Tales From Lands Unknown”

    By | Apr 4, 2024 | News

    Via The Wrap, Dark Horse Comics have announced “Bowling With Corpses & Other Strange Tales From Lands Unknown,” an anthology of folklore-inspired fantasy tales, written and illustrated by Mike Mignola. The book, due out in November, will mark the first in Mignola’s new imprint Curious Objects, and a new shared universe he is creating with […]

    MORE »