Koshchei the Deathless is a trade paperback produced by Dark Horse Comics and written by Mike Mignola. It contains art by Ben Stenbeck and the unmistakable colouring of Dave Stewart.
It’s a spin-off of the Hellboy series, and if you are a fan of Mignola’s signature work on the Hellboy universe, then you know that you are in store for a very interesting tale of suspense and lore.
The saga begins with a retelling of their first encounter, as Koshchei and Hellboy reminisce in a bar in Hell. (There’s a bad joke to be had somewhere in there.) Koshchei regales Hellboy with how he was once a mere man until he became Koshchei the Deathless. As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but hear Ron Perlman’s voice in my head as Hellboy is speaking, all sarcastic tones and bad humour.
Koshchei spins the tale of how he grew up as a commoner with no choice in life — and so he became a soldier.
A naturally gifted fighter, he stirred jealousy among his peers, who decided to beat him nearly to death as a result.
Walking among the woods that night was a dragon in the guise of a man, who promised to save Koshchei if he would serve him for nine years. Koshchei agreed and the dragon took him back to his castle where Koshchei healed and became a faithful servant.
Koshchei was diligent in his service and never became too curious of the comings and goings of the dragon and his associates.
After nine years passed, the dragon considered him his son and offered to train him in all his knowledge of magic. Koshchei declined, eager to return to the world of man.
The dragon gave him a magical shirt that would keep him from harm as long as it was on him, but an unfortunate series of events left him shirtless and hacked into pieces.
Discarded as dead in the nearby woods, he was found once again by his dragon benefactor. The dragon took him home again and with the magical knowledge he possessed he made Koshchei whole.
This time, there was no magical shirt to be had, so the dragon gave Koshchei the one thing that could keep him from harm — his soul. Koshchei hid his soul in a faraway place he knew no one would be able to reach, becoming deathless in the process.
The only job he could take, as his reputation preceded him, was as a mercenary for hire.
One being was very much willing to hire him — the witch Baba Yaga. She had it in mind to kill all the dragons in the land, using Koshchei the Deathless as her herald. Thus begins a downward spiral into Hell for Koshchei as the untold years of murder, servitude and redemption stretched ahead of him.
The rest of the story flows like the blood of Koshchei’s enemies and even some of his friends.
Koshchei the Deathless is an excellent read that stands on its own, even if you have never read anything from the Hellboy universe. This book is rated for a mature audience.
Randy Wagner is assistant manager of High Octane Comics. For more, visit 250 Third Ave. or call 250-377-8444.