But where do you start? There’s 25 years of stories in the
They’re presented here in release order:
Wake the Devil
It would be tempting to suggest you read the first story arc of the whole series, but for me, the second major arc is where it’s at. It references enough of the first volume, “Seed of Destruction,” to make you aware of what’s going on. We meet the vampire Vladimir Giurescu, Baba Yaga, and the goddess Hecate, all of whom become major players later on in the continuity. Rasputin and the Nazis continue to be major thorns in Hellboy’s side, and we get to spend a lot of time with B.P.R.D. members Liz Sherman, Abe Sapien, and we get to meet future member Roger the Homunculus. Mignola’s signature art style and James Sinclaire’s brilliant coloring make this craziness pop.
The Wolves of Saint August
This was the first story I read in the
If you wondered what a “homunculus” was when I mentioned it in “Wake the Devil,” then “Almost Colossus” will provide all the answers. Not only is Roger back but there’s even a big ol’ giant one as well. The story follows on from “Wake the Devil,” and it feels more personal and directly about our main characters. With Liz Sherman in a coma following her fire powers bringing Roger to life (it’s a homunculus thing), it’s up to Hellboy and Kate to find answers, and a cure. True to form, we get a history lesson in magic and alchemy and it ends with the giant marauding the countryside. It’s pretty darn great.
This classic brought the pulp superhero known as Lobster Johnson into Hellboy’s life. “The Lobster” was a vigilante crime-fighter in the 1930s who took on gangsters and supernatural threats in New York City. During World War II, the U.S. government hires the Lobster to help stop the Nazi’s occult enterprises. Later, a detective wrote a fictional version of him and that’s where the name Lobster Johnson came from (which is also the name of the character’s comic book series). Hellboy and Roger go to Austria to follow up on the Lobster’s final mission. There, Hellboy encounters the ghost of his pulp idol, along with Nazi-scientist-head-in-a-jar Herman von Klempt. Von Klempt’s mind later gets put in the body of a massive gorilla. How’s THAT for awesome? This story represents the splintering of the
After Hellboy parts ways with the B.P.R.D., he goes on a fair amount of one-off adventures and gets drunk and married in Mexico. But his major arc comes in the form of learning his destiny, not as the devil’s son, but as possibly the last descendant of royal lineage on Earth. Before he gets there, he’s got to battle with recurring foe Baba Yaga and her champion, Koshchei the Deathless. This arc represents part one of a trilogy of arcs that we’re pretty sure will be the basis of Neil Marshall’s movie (read all about it here). However, the first part–full of witches and Russian mythology–is the epic we’ll revisit for a long, long time. Oh, and Duncan Fegredo’s art is superbly gorgeous.
The Crooked Man
The legendary horror artist Richard Corben lent his pen to the Hellboy universe a few times. None are as endlessly creepy as this three-issue story set in 1950s Appalachia. The story gets way into southern witchcraft and devil worship and the titular baddie (pictured above) is legitimate nightmare fuel. It even brings in the oft-referenced Melungion Witches, descendants of the original settlers from Roanoke (people who watch
The Bride of Hell
And there you have seven of our favorite