Helck sets out with a group of demons led by the disguised Vermilio to defeat a mysterious group of winged soldiers and reclaim Castle Urum. However, before they can finish the fight, Helck and Vermilio are transported to a strange place. Now, the two must figure out how to survive in this new environment…and how to coexist!
Helck is translated by David Evelyn and lettered by Annaliese “ACE” Christman.
Helck was a pleasant surprise when I first read it a couple of months ago. What started as an over-the-top comedy with great face reactions slowly revealed itself to be much more of a suspenseful and dark story. While I do think the shift to a more dramatic tone could've been handled more smoothly in volume 1, this volume carries that new tone effectively, with less of a focus on comedy in favor of worldbuilding.
Muddying the waters of Red's initial suspicion of Helck is the introduction of other humans that seek to wipe out all demons. Unlike conventional fantasies where the humans are the heroes that we root for, here they are framed much more as a maniacal threat. We begin to see more of the demons' perspective in this war outside of Red, and it makes me appreciate the colorful cast of demon clans. Each of them comes with their own specific brand of comedy, but the story keeps things fresh by having those different comedic reactions bounce off of each other in rather organic ways.
I think the story also does a better job of spacing out when it should be going for a comedic beat. Now that we have more violence and dramatic moments, it's important to make sure that these scenes aren't ruined by a poorly timed punchline. The artwork is still very on point with its exaggerated reactions, even if there are noticeably less of them in this volume compared to volume 1. Although there's a part of me that wishes the comedy was a bit stronger when it was the focus, it's for the best that the comedic and dramatic moments seem to be more separated by location. We could have Helck and Red on a desert island bouncing off of colorful characters while the remaining cast of demons go up against our villainous heroes in a more serious way.
That doesn't mean that Helck and Red are strictly here for comedy, though. The two finally have moments where they can both let their guards down, if even for a moment, and it does lead to some nice conversations. Red starts feeling herself be swayed by Helck's charisma, even if she still tries to keep up the brave front. But I was even more surprised by the air of sadness that seemed to follow Helck. It really makes you wonder if what he's doing is for the sake of demons or for himself.
Honestly, when I reached the end of this volume, I was left feeling just as curious about what's going to happen next as I did when I finished volume 1. The only difference now is that the stakes seem to be significantly raised, but the story's ability to keep that sense of dramatic intrigue consistent while expanding on its drama and lore is commendable. The expanded cast of characters seem fun, with the only drawback being that this stronger focus on drama meant the comedy needed to take a hit. I wonder if we'll get to a point where the comedy will just dissipate altogether once we finally get those big dramatic revelations, but only time will tell. In the meantime I will wait patiently for volume 3 to come out!
Overall : A-
Story : B+
Art : A
+ Fun additions to the main cast, volume has a better balance of drama and comedy, more depth to Helck and Red
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