Volume 2 picks up where volume 1 left off. Defrosted WW2 Nazis are striving to build their "vampir sturm" army, but they need resources to build it and Vladimir Giurescu to finish the job. While the resource problem is quickly solved, ol' Vlad's been dead since the war and his body is hard to find. A year later, Hellboy and his fellow field agents from the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (I didn't realize it was located so close to home. I should see if they're hiring.) are sent to Romania to investigate.
The artwork is much like the first volume with lots of black ink: shadows and brooding darkness. Mignola is quite capable of evoking emotion and story out of the gloomier colors in his palette without seeming drab or dull.
Here in volume 2, Mignola takes over the writing duties and improves the storyline. There's a lot more dialogue and multiple POVs. There is quite a bit of infodumping up front, but it's done in the form of a BPRD briefing. The one thing I would've liked to have seen is more interaction between Hellboy and his co-workers. While on assignment, he's told that he has to go solo in order to cover more ground (not enough agents to go around) so most of the volume is him alone. There are a couple of conversations that teased at deeper connections which will hopefully be explored more in detail later.
As for our intrepid hero, Mignola brings out some of his charm during and between fights with his foes. He refuses to be anyone's pawn and will gladly clobber anyone who would have him be otherwise. Not only do we get more details on Hellboy's origin and purpose, but we get more insight into the villains in this tale. Sure they still like to monologue a lot, but this time they also carry on conversations with each other over friendship, faith in the Master, trust, and love. Still, one of my favorite lines comes from a resurrected Nazi general's disembodied head in a jar:
"Think. Why burn down the world when we can be its masters?"