Goodbye, Hellboy. With the final chapter of Hellboy In Hell #10, For Whom The Bell Tolls a few weeks ago, creator Mike Mignola has finally drawn a line under his greatest creation ever.
After more than 20 years, Mignola is stepping away from writing and drawing the World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator to do nothing but paint paintings, for at least the next year or so. While he is still involved in the stories for spin-offs like BPRD: Bureau For Paranormal Research And Defense, Lobster Johnson, and Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder, he has decided that Hellboy In Hell #10 would be the last in the series, effectively ending the character’s run in comics.
While the final issue does wrap up the series in style, with a massive battle between a giant Hellboy and two giant monsters, there is also a sense throughout the issue (and the entire Hellboy In Hell series) that Mignola just wasn’t very interested in doing Hellboy stories anymore. So, rather than continue to drag it out as long as possible, he decided to pull the plug instead.
Fortunately for fans, Mignola’s past Hellboy stories contain so much depth and quality that even though you’ve read them before, they are still worth revisiting over and over again. And the best part about the series is that all these stories are easily obtainable through Dark Horse’s collected volumes, even the obscure and short stories.
So, to celebrate the end of an era, we’ve decided to look back at our top 10 favourite Hellboy stories ever.
Seed Of Destruction (1994)
The one that started it all. It may not have been the first ever Hellboy story, but this debut miniseries set the foundation for the entire Mignolaverse.
Besides introducing Hellboy and hinting at what the future had in store for him, it also marked the debuts of mainstay villains like Rasputin, the frog creatures and the demonic Ogdru Jahad. It also had the first appearances of pyrokinetic Elizabeth “Liz” Sherman, and the amphibious Abraham “Abe” Sapien, who would go on to play central roles in future stories, as well as the BPRD spin-off.
Hell yeah moment: A possessed Abe Sapien shows up in the nick of time to spear Rasputin through the chest with a harpoon.
The Wolves Of Saint August (1994)
Based on an Irish folk tale, this short story is notable for introducing Kate Corrigan, a paranormal researcher who later becomes an integral part of the BPRD. Hellboy and Corrigan travel to Griart in the Balkans to find the town decimated by the angry ghosts of werewolves and their associate Father Kelly murdered by a living werewolf.
The trade paperback Hellboy: The Wolves Of Saint August won the 1996 Harvey Award for Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work.
Hell yeah moment: That final fight between Hellboy and a giant werewolf, of course.
The Corpse (1995)
What a story this turned out to be. Hellboy travels to Ireland in 1959 to rescue a child named Alice, who has been replaced by a changeling. He is then given a task – give the corpse of a man named Tam O’Clannie a proper burial by daybreak, or lose Alice to the fairies who abducted her.
It may have been a relatively short story, but it’s a real masterpiece of a tale. Funny and creepy at the same time, it not only works as a standalone story, but also has lasting ramifications for Hellboy through the introduction of pivotal characters like Alice Monaghan, and the vengeful Gruagach.
Hell yeah moment: The annoying little elf Gruagach raises Grom the giant war-monster to fight Hellboy, but his joy is cut short when the monster picks him up and devours him with a sickening “CRUNCH”. Too bad that wasn’t the last we saw of Gruagach…
Wake The Devil (1996)
If Seed Of Destruction was the story that introduced us to the characters, this was the one that really fleshed out Hellboy’s backstory (by explaining what those horns on his head were for), and firmly established him as a hero worth following. It also positioned the witch queen Hecate as a major villain in the Hellboy mythos, and introduced one of the series’ most beloved characters – Roger the homunculus.
Hell yeah moment: Hellboy is tied to a post, and is about to be killed by the ghost of Vladimir Giurescu when he RIPS OFF HALF THE STONE POST and smashes it into Vladimir – POW!
It is 1947. A two-year-old Hellboy is called in for breakfast, and is given pancakes even though he wants noodles. “NO WAY! I don’t like pam-cakes!” he protests. Forced to take a bite, he discovers that he actually loves them. At the same time in Hell, an anguished wail goes up, and three demon lords declare that now that he has “eaten the pancake”, Hellboy will never come back to them.
Mignola came up with this story after someone asked him if he was interested in doing a story about a young Hellboy, but suggested two pages of Hellboy eating pancakes instead. Sure, there are better stories in the series, but this super-short story perfectly encapsulates the funny, innocent nature of the character in two short pages.
Hell yeah moment: “HEY! I LOVE IT!”
Conqueror Worm (2001)
One of the best Hellboy stories, though Hellboy was not the real star here, but rather, Roger the homunculus.
Hellboy and Roger head to Austria to intercept a Nazi rocket that is heading back to the clutches of Nazi villain Herman von Klempt. By the end of it, Roger attempts to contain the titular Conqueror Worm within himself, a noble sacrifice that enhances Hellboy’s respect for him and cements his place firmly in the hearts of Mignolaverse fans (making his eventual death in the pages of BPRD all the more gut-wrenching).
This was also the story where Hellboy quits the BPRD to strike out on his own, so subsequent Hellboy stories only featured him, with the rest of the team moving over to BPRD.
Hell yeah moment: Roger grabs the floating head of von Klempt and leaps off a cliff, killing the Nazi.
The Penanggalan (2004)
Although it was just a short four-page comic, this story has special significance to Malaysians, as it sees Hellboy coming here in 1958 to a village that has no bomoh, and has fallen victim to a demonic penanggalan.
A young guide leads him to the demon’s cave, where Hellboy is met with a betrayal.
The story was originally published in 2004 in Hellboy Premier Edition (a promotional issue for Wizard), and included in the Hellboy: The Troll Witch And Others trade paperback.
Hell yeah moment: The mentions of our local lore and legend. Malaysia boleh!
The Crooked Man (2008)
One of the scariest horror stories ever published in comic books. The story is set in 1958, as Hellboy meets Tom Ferrell, a man who owes his soul to the titular Crooked Man, an evil being who was hanged for his crimes but was sent back from Hell to hoard souls.
Mignola and artist Richard Corben team up to chilling effect here, as the artist brings Mignola’s vision of the Crooked Man to life brilliantly. One look at his wide and constant grin is enough to unsettle you and give you the chills, and as the story progresses, the Crooked Man’s evil nature comes to the fore, making him one of Hellboy’s most disturbing villains ever.
Hell yeah moment: More like a “Hell, no” moment, actually. The Crooked Man only shows up 56 pages into the already creepy-as-hell 71-page story, but instantly makes it even scarier somehow.
Hellboy In Mexico (2010)
Also known as A Drunken Blur. Mignola and Corben teamed up again for this fun but poignant story that stands out as one of the most tragic Hellboy stories ever written, as he goes to Mexico in 1956 and teams up with three luchador brothers to fight some supernatural monsters.
Hell yeah moment: Hellboy, forced to fight one of the brothers who has been turned into a vampire, impales his opponent on one of the ring posts, but there is no joy at his victory – only sadness.
The Storm And The Fury (2010-11)
The one where Hellboy dies and literally goes to Hell.
To be fair, The Storm And The Fury is actually part of a bigger “trilogy” of stories including Darkness Calls and The Wild Hunt, in which almost every storyline and plot thread Mignola came up with over the course of the series is tied up. But we’ve singled out The Storm And The Fury as it is the one that truly drew a line under Hellboy’s life on Earth, but only after a mighty fight, one of the series’ best, against the Ogdru Jahad in the form of a dragon.
Almost every major and supporting character (barring his pals at the BPRD, who have their own problems to deal with) makes an appearance, including the vengeful Gruagach (trapped in a boar’s body), the wicked witch Baba Yaga, Astaroth the tempter from the Wild Hunt stories, and the Queen of Blood herself, Nimue, who becomes the host for the Ogdru Jahad.
Hell yeah moment: Too many to count. The final fight against The Dragon is great stuff, as is the crowning of Arthur, but our vote goes to the quietly profound moment when Hellboy turns down the chance to take up the crown himself and lead an army. He even asks Alice to throw Excalibur “in a nice-looking pond or river”, the lovable big lug.
Collected volumes of Hellboy are available at Kinokuniya, Suria KLCC. Call 03-2164 8133 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.kinokuniya.com/my.