Hellboy in Mexico


By Mike Mignola, Richard Corben, Mick McMahon, Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá, Dave Stewart & Clem Robins (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-61655-897-0 (TPB)       eISBN: 978-1-63008-217-8

Happy Dia de los Muertos!

Let’s wind down our own Halloween celebrations and enjoy the more life-affirming Day of the Dead with a fabulously pertinent tome, formatted for your edification in both trade paperback and digital editions…

Towards the end of World War II an uncanny otherworldly baby was confiscated from Nazi cultists by American superhero The Torch of Liberty and a squad of US Rangers moments after his eldritch nativity on Earth. The good guys had interrupted a satanic ritual predicted by parapsychologist Professor Trevor Bruttenholm and his associates who were waiting for Hell to literally come to Earth…

The heroic assemblage was stationed at a ruined church in East Bromwich, England when the abominable infant with a huge stone right hand materialised in an infernal fireball. “Hellboy” was subsequently raised by Bruttenholm, and grew into a mighty warrior engaged in fighting a never-ending secret war against the uncanny and supernatural. The Prof assiduously schooled and trained his happy-go-lucky foundling whilst forming and consolidating an organisation to destroy arcane and occult threats – the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

After years of such devoted intervention, education and warm human interaction, in 1952 the neophyte hero began hunting down agents of the malign unknown, from phantoms to monsters as lead agent for the BPRD. Hellboy rapidly became its top operative; the world’s most successful paranormal investigator…

As decades passed, Hellboy gleaned snatches of his origins and antecedents, learning he was a supposedly corrupted beast of dark portent: a demonic messiah destined to destroy the world and bring back ancient powers of evil.

It is a fate he despised and utterly rejected…

This eerily esoteric collection of tales concocted by Mike Mignola and friends re-presents a selection of short stories as originally published Hellboy In Mexico, Dark Horse Presents Volume 2 #7, 31-32, Hellboy 20th Anniversary Sampler, Dark Horse Presents Volume 3 #7, and Hellboy: House of the Living Dead, collectively spanning 2010 and 2015. The premise is that in 1956 Hellboy was working south of the border and, thanks to booze and an unspecified crisis, went way, way, wa-aay off the reservation…

With each piece preceded by some informative commentary from Mignola, the arcane action begins with ‘Hellboy in Mexico or, A Drunken Blur’, (May 2010) illustrated by Richard Corben with colourist Dave Stewart & letterer Clem Robins applying their own seamlessly fitting contributions to the mix…

In 1982 Hellboy and amphibious ally Abe Sapien are winding down after a strenuous mission in Mexico. Looking for a quiet drink they amble into a ramshackle cantina and discover a sort of shrine comprising a Holy Virgin statue and hundreds of faded photos, posters and tickets for luchadors (masked wrestlers).

One of them features Hellboy and three grinning, hooded grapplers…

Shocked and stunned, Hellboy’s mind drifts back to a barely-recalled drunken binge three decades ago…

And thus is revealed an untold tale of sterling comradeship and collaborative chaos-crushing, as the Demon Detective joins a trio of fun-loving masked brothers who combined their travels on the wrestling circuit with a spot of monster-hunting and devil-destroying. Sadly, Hellboy also remembers how it all fell apart after young Esteban succumbed to the deadly embrace of vampiric bat-god Camazotz

With the golden times over, Hellboy indulged in an epic, memory-eradicating booze-bender until months later BPRD agents found, dried out and brought home their errant top gun…

Of course, since he was missing for months, there might be other exploits still unrecalled…

From Dark Horse Presents Volume 2 #7 (December 2011) – and fully crafted by Mignola – ‘Hellboy versus the Aztec Mummy’ returns to that lost time in Mexico as the powerfully pixilated paranormal paragon hunts down a devil-bat only to find himself overmatched in a clash with godly Quetzalcoatl, after which marvellous Mick McMahon picks up the illustrator’s brushes to render Mignola’s outrageous drunken tall tale ‘Hellboy Gets Married’ (DHP #31-32, December 2013 to January 2014).

This time the demon drink led to the infernal gladiator falling into an unlikely matrimonial match with a ghostly shapeshifter. Their wedding night was the stuff of nightmares…

Relentlessly following on is ‘The Coffin Man’ (by Mignola and Fábio Moon from March 2014’s Hellboy 20th Anniversary Sampler). Here another cantina night was interrupted by a little girl whose recently interred uncle was being pilfered by a sinister Brujo (witchman). Hellboy’s best attempts to take back the beloved cadaver were insultingly inadequate…

The sequel ‘The Coffin Man 2: The Rematch’ was illustrated by Moon’s twin brother Gabriel Bá and first appeared in Dark Horse Presents Volume 3 #7 (February 2015). A fortnight after that initial encounter the still smarting AWOL B.P.R.D. agent went looking for the corpse-stealer and yet again came off embarrassingly second-best…

‘House of the Living Dead’ originally emerged as an eponymous one-off graphic novel crafted by Mignola, Corben, Stewart & Robins. It was devised as loving tribute to the golden age of Universal monster movies, their Hammer Films descendants and legendary actors Boris Karloff, Glenn Strange, John Carradine & Lon Chaney Jr.

The saga starts during that hazy sun-drenched fugue season with Hellboy still revelling in the heady thrills of the travelling wrestling ring. That only makes him a target for a cunning plan that begins with the offer of a lucrative private bout. After refusing, our soused champion is convinced to comply when the stranger shows him the photo of the girl who will be killed if he doesn’t fight…

Soon he is reluctantly entering a dilapidated hacienda and climbing into a ring to clash with a mad doctor’s recently animated corpse-monster. And then vampires show up and the rising full moon bathes the deranged genius’ manservant…

A light-hearted romp with a potent twist and dark underpinnings, it’s no wonder Hellboy carried on drinking after all the grave dust settled…

Moderated and annotated by editor Scott Allie, the ‘Hellboy Sketchbook’ closes this festive fear fiesta, revealing story-layouts, doodles, roughs, designs and pencilled pages accompanied by creator comments and garnished with a full cover gallery.

Delivered as a succession of short, sharp shockers of beguiling wit and intensity, this potent piñata of horror history is a perfect example of comics storytelling at its very best: offering astounding supernatural spectacle, amazing arcane action and momentous mystical suspense – something every fear fan and adventure aficionado will enjoy.
™ and © 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 Mike Mignola. Hellboy is ™ Mike Mignola. All rights reserved.

Hellboy volume 11: The Dead Bride and others


By Mike Mignola, Richard Corben, Kevin Nowlan, Scott Hampton, Dave Stewart & Clem Robins (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-59582-740-1

Towards the end of World War II an uncanny otherworldly baby was confiscated from Nazi cultists by American superhero The Torch of Liberty and a squad of US Rangers moments after his eldritch nativity on Earth. The good guys had interrupted a satanic ritual predicted by parapsychologist Professor Trevor Bruttenholm and his associates who were waiting for Hell to literally come to Earth…

The heroic assemblage was stationed at a ruined church in East Bromwich, England when the abominable infant with a huge stone right hand materialised in an infernal fireball. This “Hellboy” was subsequently raised by Bruttenholm, and grew into a mighty warrior engaged in fighting a never-ending secret war against the uncanny and supernatural. The Professor assiduously schooled and trained his happy-go-lucky foundling whilst forming and consolidating an organisation to destroy arcane and occult threats – the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

After years of such devoted intervention, education and warm human interaction, in 1952 the neophyte hero began hunting down agents of the malign unknown, from phantoms to monsters as lead agent for the BPRD. Hellboy rapidly became its top operative; the world’s most successful paranormal investigator…

As decades passed, Hellboy gleaned snatches of his origins and antecedents, learning he was a supposedly corrupted beast of dark portent: a demonic messiah destined to destroy the world and bring back ancient powers of evil.

It is a fate he despised and utterly rejected…

This eerily esoteric collection of tales concocted by Mike Mignola re-presents a selection of short stories as originally published on/in USAToday.com, Hellboy In Mexico, Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil, Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead #1-2, Hellboy: The Bride of Hell and Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish, all between 2009 and 2011. These tales draw together many subtly scattered clues disseminated throughout his innumerable tempestuous exploits and contribute to more than fifteen years of slowly boiling magical suspense… as well as hinting at the incredible enigma of the horrific hero’s doom-drenched double destiny…

Following some informative commentary from Mignola the arcane action begins with ‘Hellboy in Mexico or, A Drunken Blur’, (May 2010) illustrated by Richard Corben with colourist Dave Stewart & letterer Clem Robins applying their own seamless contributions to the mix…

In 1982 Hellboy and amphibious ally Abe Sapien are winding down after a strenuous mission in Mexico. Looking for a quiet drink they amble into a ramshackle cantina and discover a sort of shrine comprising a Holy Virgin statue and hundreds of faded photos, posters and tickets for luchadors (masked wrestlers). One of them features Hellboy and three grinning, hooded grapplers…

Shocked and stunned, Hellboy’s mind drifts back to a drunken binge in 1956…

And thus unfolds an untold tale of sterling comradeship and collaborative chaos-crushing as the Demon Detective joins a trio of fun-loving masked brothers who combined their travels on the wrestling circuit with a spot of monster-hunting and devil-destroying, and how it all fell apart after young Esteban fell to the deadly embrace of vampiric bat-god Camazotz

With the golden times over Hellboy went on an epic memory-eradicating booze-bender until months later BPRD agents found, dried out and brought home their errant top gun…

From Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil (November 2010) – and again illustrated by Corben – comes a brace of theatrically themed terrors. ‘Sullivan’s Reward’ sees Hellboy lured to a phantom-infested manse with a wicked reputation and corrupt mortal owner after which ‘The House of Sebek’ details the mystically inept lengths a horny Egyptology buff descends to in order to slake his lusts. Sadly for him, old crocodile gods never die but do get really ticked off when summoned for the wrong reasons…

A love of classic vampire yarns permeates the epic clash from ‘The Sleeping and the Dead’ #1-2 (December 2010-February 2011) as Scott Hampton, Stewart & Robbins render Mignola’s spooky saga of a nosferatu clan abiding for centuries in a sleepy Suffolk village until Hellboy visited England in 1966 and explosively cleaned house, hearth and home…

Corben returns to illustrate ‘The Bride of Hell’ (December 2009), wherein an American student vanishes in France in 1985. Sent to save her, Hellboy encounters deranged Satan-worshippers, fiends from the Pit and the ghosts of Knight Templar, and learns a small piece of lost history from the annals of the eternal war between Man and the Devil. Tragically, that lesson doesn’t include an appendix on the irresponsibility and unpredictability of human nature and the tale takes a sharp twist which leaves the hero bereft and defeated…

Created as a promotional piece for USA Today’s website ‘Hellboy: The Whittier Legacy’ (by Mignola with Stewart & Robbins from October 2010) sees the Paranormal Paragon track down the last disgruntled by-blow (it means “illegitimate child”: can’t say my stuff isn’t educational or informative) of an infamous family of Rhode Island Occultists (no; not eye-doctors) determined to enjoy the power and knowledge of his true ancestors. Of course, the old pretender might have shared the heritage, but not the wisdom or foresight to leave well enough alone…

Wrapping up the perilous proceedings, ‘Buster Oakley Gets His Wish’ (April 2011) affords man of many gifts Kevin Nowlan an opportunity to display his mastery of art, colours and letters in a blackly hilarious romp set in Rooks County, Kansas in 1985. Buster was just a bored young farmboy until he performed that ritual from the witchcraft book he’d gotten hold of. Now as Hellboy investigates cow mutilations, he is confronted by weird aliens and teams up with a tragic bovine ally who wishes he’d never heard of the Unknown…

‘Hellboy Sketchbook’ then shares all the covers, story-layouts, doodles, roughs, models and designs; all fully annotated by contributors Nowlan, Corben, Hampton, editor Scott Allie and Mignola, to flesh out the fearsome thrills and chills experience.

Delivered as a succession of short, sharp shockers of beguiling power and ingenuity, this succulent slice of Hellboy’s irresistible history is a perfect example of comics storytelling at its very best: offering astounding supernatural spectacle, amazing arcane action and momentous mystical suspense – something every fear fan and adventure aficionado will enjoy.
™ and © 2009, 2010, 2011 Mike Mignola. Hellboy is ™ Mike Mignola. All rights reserved.

Hellboy volume 10: The Crooked Man and Others


By Mike Mignola, Richard Corben, Duncan Fegredo, Joshua Dysart, Jason Shawn Alexander, Dave Stewart & Clem Robins (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-59582-740-1

As a baby Hellboy was taken – on December 23rd 1944 – from Nazi cultists by American superhero The Torch of Liberty and a squad of US Rangers. They had interrupted a satanic ritual predicted by Allied parapsychologist Professor Trevor Bruttenholm and his associates.

They were waiting at a ruined church in East Bromwich, England when an abominable infant with a huge stone right hand materialised in a fireball. Raised by Bruttenholm, the child grew into a mighty warrior fighting a never-ending secret war. The Professor trained the infernal foundling whilst forming an organisation to destroy supernatural threats – the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

After years of such devoted intervention, education and warm human interaction, in 1952 the neophyte hero began destroying unnatural threats and supernatural monsters as lead agent for the BPRD. “Hellboy” rapidly became its top operator… the world’s most successful paranormal investigator…

As the decades unfolded, Hellboy gleaned snatches of his origins, learning he was a supposedly corrupted creature of dark portent: born a demonic messiah, destined to destroy the world and bring back ancient powers of evil. It was a fate he despised and utterly rejected…

This creepy tenth collection re-presents the 3-issue miniseries Hellboy: the Crooked Man, one-shot Hellboy: In the Chapel of Moloch, the extremely rare Hellboy: They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships computer game premium and a short story from Free Comic Book Day 2008: Hellboy: once again relating tales set at various stages of his globe-trotting, world-saving fifty year career batting the arcane, occult and unknown…

Following an expansively effusive Introduction from cartoonist Gahan Wilson, this collation of chillers commences with Eisner Award-winning saga ‘The Crooked Man’, limned by Richard Corben, with colours and letters by regular support crew Dave Stewart and Clem Robins.

It’s preceded by an introductory commentary from author Mignola where he acknowledges the influence of and debt to pulp, comics, magazine and novel-writer Manly Wade Wellman and how he helped shaped the supernatural shocker which follows…

Roaming the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia in 1958, Hellboy encounters a plague of witches and meets a fellow victim of fate in wandering Tom Ferrell.

As they jointly seek a cure for a hexed woman they encounter an old friend of Tom’s who has been lured into the craft by the Devil. Having met the infernal fiend in his local guise as the Crooked Man, Tom reveals a dark secret of his own…

Years ago when he was a stupid kid, Ferrell was seduced by teen temptress Effie Kolb who lured him into making a pact with the Crooked One. His reward was great power – in the form of a lucky wishing bone – but the boy was so shocked by the experience that he fled the Appalachians in terror: joining the army, becoming a globe-trotter and never, ever calling upon the demonic power at his command…

And now he’s been drawn home to settle accounts…

Witches and devils are waiting for him with many cruel punishments in store but, with Hellboy beside him, Tom pushes on up the mountains to the seat of the monsters’ power. Here, a dedicated, unswerving preacher holds out on the last piece of consecrated ground in the entire district, and with his divine support the damned heroes confront all the powers of Hell and temptations of Perdition to banish the dark forces.

As always, however, there is a price to pay…

Written by Mignola and Joshua Dysart with art by Jason Shawn Alexander ‘They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships’ was created as a comic premium given away with a computer game. The scene is Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1986, where a hustling fortune teller steals – or is perhaps glamoured by – the skull Blackbeard the Pirate.

A month later Hellboy and amphibian agent Abe Sapien are called to Ocracoke Island, North Carolina where the brain-slaved conman is attempting to unite the piratical pate with its former body to resurrect the bloodiest murderer in history to his old red-handed antics…

Even Hellboy’s great strength seems unable to still the unquiet ghost, but other vengeful forces have also been awakened by the rowdy Blackbeard…

‘In the Chapel of Moloch’ is an all-Mignola affair set in 1992 wherein the weird wanderer visits an old friend in southern Portugal and is drawn into an eerie case of possession. They investigate the disappearance of a painter who has been beguiled by the works of Francisco Goya and apparently summoned to Earth the personification of a biblical devil, and discover something old and fierce and deadly on the loose…

The comics cavalcade of chills and thrills ends with a whimsical vignette by Mignola & Duncan Fegredo from Free Comic Book Day 2008: Hellboy. As the B.P.R.D. top gun spends a little downtime in England with some old – and largely deceased – pals, he has a bit of an extended fright after one of them points out ‘The Mole’ growing on the arcane agent’s hand…

This capital collection of Chthonic capers is accompanied by a gallery of covers by Mignola and Corben and supplemented by a copious ‘Hellboy Sketchbook’ assemblage with art from all stages of production and commentary from the author and artists Alexander, Fegredo & Corben before closing with an erudite and tantalising biographic appreciation of ‘Manly Wade Wellman: American Mythmaker’ by author, archivist and historian John Pelan.

Spooky, suspenseful and explosively action-packed, this is another uniquely unsettling rollercoaster ride to delight horrorists of very stripe and character.
© 2008, 2009, and 2010 Mike Mignola. Hellboy is ™ Mike Mignola. Introduction © 2010 Gahan Wilson. All rights reserved.

Hellboy volume 9: The Wild Hunt


By Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Dave Stewart & Clem Robins (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-59582-431-8

On December 23rd 1944 an uncanny baby was confiscated from Nazi cultists by American superhero The Torch of Liberty and a squad of US Rangers moments after his unearthly nativity on Earth. The Allied forces had interrupted a satanic ritual predicted by parapsychologist Professor Trevor Bruttenholm and his associates who were waiting for Hell to literally come to Earth…

The heroic assemblage was stationed at a ruined church in East Bromwich, England when the abominable infant with a huge stone right hand materialised in an infernal fireball. This “Hellboy” was subsequently raised by Bruttenholm, and grew into a mighty warrior engaged in fighting a never-ending secret war against the uncanny and supernatural. The Professor trained the happy-go-lucky foundling whilst forming and consolidating an organisation to destroy arcane and occult threats – the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

After years of such devoted intervention, education and warm human interaction, in 1952 the neophyte hero began hunting all agents of the malign unknown from phantoms to monsters as lead agent for the BPRD. Hellboy rapidly became its top operative; the world’s most successful paranormal investigator…

As decades unfolded, Hellboy gleaned snatches of his origins and antecedents, learning he was a supposedly corrupted beast of dark portent: a demonic messiah destined to destroy the world and bring back ancient powers of evil.

It is a fate he despised and utterly rejected…

This ninth necromantic collection re-presents the climactic 8-issue miniseries Hellboy: The Wild Hunt from 2008-2009, drawing together many subtly scattered clues disseminated throughout his innumerable tempestuous exploits and at last providing the conclusion to more than fifteen years of slowly boiling magical suspense… as well as the incredible answers to the enigma of the horrific hero’s doom-drenched double destiny…

Creator Mignola reunites with illustrator Duncan Fegredo – supplemented as always by colourist Dave Stewart and letterer Clem Robins – as the fey folk and other creatures of ancient mythology and legend are fading into non-existence in the face of a rising of witches.

The malevolent hags have a new queen who promises blood and slaughter and domination of the world by her kind whilst the only being who might stop her inexorable ascendance is missing…

Following an Introduction from Mark Chadbourn the drama opens in rural Italy as Hellboy receives a letter from a most ancient and august society. The paranormal paragon has been hiding; avoiding having to deal with a hard-wired cosmic fate which will not let him go…

Nevertheless, on receipt of the missive Hellboy returns to England and meets the oldest members of the aristocratic secret society known as the Wild Hunt.

They have been clandestinely defending the Sceptr’d Isles from mystic assault for centuries and – more aware of Hellboy’s destiny-drenched antecedents than the hero himself – want him to join them in exterminating a band of giants set to ravage the Realm…

Sadly the entire affair is a trap, but the mortal warriors are no match for Hellboy who defeats his duplicitous opponents before also despatching the giants in an uncontrollable burst of warrior-madness…

In a faraway place the ensorcelled goblin known as the Gruagach of Lough Leane reflects on the long-ago slight inflicted upon by Hellboy which has been the cause and trigger of all the carnage and world-shattering destruction about to unfold when the new Queen of Witches is ready. Perhaps he repents it all, just a shade…

The subject of his hate is currently in Ireland, renewing the acquaintance of Alice whom he saved from being abducted as a baby by the Little People. The decades have been uncannily kind, as if some elfin magic rubbed off on her…

As the Red Queen cruelly consolidates her power in England, Hellboy and Alice are visited by former pixie potentate Queen Mab who reveals another missing part of a decades-long puzzle and hints that there might be way to thwart this oppressive, inescapable destiny.

However when another supposed ally betrays them and Alice is wounded unto death, Hellboy is approached by ancient legend Morgan Le Fay who offers to trade for the mortal girl’s life.

She reveals that although the hell-born hero is certainly the son of the devil his human mother could trace her own line back to Arthur Pendragon. Hellboy is the doom of mankind but also the True King of England and she is his many-times removed grandmother…

If he wants to save humanity from an army of darkness he has his own to call upon – one comprising millennia of the noble dead of Britain. All Morgan’s heir has to do is take up the Sword in the Stone. It should be easy. His new occult opponent – now calling herself the Mor-Rioghain – also wants to awaken the dragons from the beginning of time and wipe out humanity: the fore-ordained role Hellboy has sworn never to enact…

With horror Hellboy realises he has not been running from one unwanted Destiny, but two…

With his fate closing in all around him Hellboy is uncharacteristically nonplussed, but an ethereal visitation prompts him to ferocious action and as he confronts his own inherently evil nature he finally throws off all the sly influences attempting to sway him and once again chooses his own path…

Offering astounding supernatural spectacle, amazing arcane action, mounting mystical tension and the imminent end of decades of slowly unfolding wonderment, this epic adventure is supplemented by a copious Sketchbook Section from Mignola and Fegredo, offering unused covers, roughs, designs, and informative commentary.

Unfolding with the pace of a mythic epic of enthralling power, the saga and mystery of Hellboy is a true landmark of comics storytelling and one every fan and aficionado should read.
™ and © 2008, 2009, 2010 Mike Mignola. Hellboy is ™ Mike Mignola. Introduction © 2010 Mark Chadbourn. All rights reserved.

Hellboy volume 8: Darkness Calls


By Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Dave Stewart & Clem Robins (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-59307-896-6

As a baby Hellboy was confiscated – on December 23rd 1944 – from Nazi cultists by American superhero The Torch of Liberty and a squad of US Rangers moments after his unearthly nativity on Earth. The Allied forces had interrupted a satanic ritual predicted by parapsychologist Professor Trevor Bruttenholm and his associates…

They were ready and waiting at a ruined church in East Bromwich, England when an abominable infant with a huge stone right hand materialised in a fireball. Raised by Bruttenholm, the child grew into a mighty warrior fighting a never-ending secret war. The Professor trained the infernal foundling whilst forming an organisation to destroy supernatural threats – the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

After years of such devoted intervention, education and warm human interaction, in 1952 the neophyte hero began destroying unnatural threats and supernatural monsters as lead agent for the BPRD. “Hellboy” rapidly became its top operator… the world’s most successful paranormal investigator…

As the decades unfold, Hellboy gleans snatches of his origins, learning he is a supposedly pre-corrupted creature of dark portent: born a demonic messiah and destined to destroy the world and bring back ancient powers of evil.

It is a fate he despises and utterly rejects…

This eerie eighth archive re-presents the 6-issue miniseries Hellboy: Darkness Calls from 2007 and includes two epilogues created especially for the collection. It is especially noteworthy as creator Mignola here surrenders visual autonomy over his legendary character to illustrator Duncan Fegredo – with evocative support as always from colourist Dave Stewart and letterer Clem Robins – whilst moving the years-in-the-making saga towards its long-awaited conclusion…

Following an Introduction from Jane Yolen the drama opens beneath rural Italy as accursed wizard Igor Weldon Bromhead hastens the destruction of humanity by summoning and binding the malign witch-goddess Hecate. Bromhead wants revenge and doesn’t care if the world burns in his getting of it…

In faraway England the ripples of his acts alert the fey folk and other supernatural entities that the End Times are finally upon them…

Hellboy is in Britain; visiting old friends and desperately seeking to sidestep the fate the universe is pushing him towards. Restless, he wanders into the woods, seemingly oblivious to the strange signs and portents dogging his heels until he encounters a strange trio of sinister characters and is drawn into a living history lesson…

After also meeting the ghost of witchfinder Henry Hood, he is made painfully aware of a rising of the covens as the congregated creatures of the night attack him in an abandoned church. After a climactic battle – and more painful revelations of his past and ordained future – the paranormal paragon is suddenly yanked away into the infernal arctic domain of his terrifying nemesis Baba Yaga: the Russian witch-queen sworn to destroy him…

In England, witches continue to gather, urged on by minor demon Gruagach; another unclean creature with a grudge against Hellboy. He advocates waking a long-buried queen of the dark to lead their final assault on the world and will not be dissuaded…

Meanwhile in Baba Yaga’s land of eternal chill, Hellboy is holding his own against the sorceress’ legions but is about to meet his match against her greatest thrall: an indomitable, unstoppable warrior dubbed Koshchei the Deathless.

The captive is not without allies. Fallen god Perun, giant wolves and a rebellious Domovoi (house spirit) all offer what aid they can but it’s the ministrations of little dead girl Vasilisa which provides Hellboy with an opportunity to escape the endless war and return to the physical world.

While he has been gone however, events have moved on. The hags and weird folk have succeeded in freeing the one who will lead them in the final clash with humanity, and the benign spirits who have sheltered Man for so long see that their own long, long lives are finally done…

Offering astounding supernatural spectacle, amazing arcane action, mounting mystical tension and the imminent end of decades of slowly unfolding wonderment, this epic adventure is supplemented by a copious Sketchbook Section from Mignola and Fegredo, offering unused covers, roughs, designs, and informative commentary.

Proceeding with epic pace and enthralling power, the saga and mystery of Hellboy is a true landmark of comics storytelling and one every fan and aficionado should read.
™ and © 2008 Mike Mignola. Hellboy is ™ Mike Mignola. Introduction © 2008 Jane Yolen. All rights reserved.

Lobster Johnson volume 1: The Iron Prometheus


By Mike Mignola, Jason Alexander, Dave Stewart & Clem Robbins (Dark Horse)
ISBN: 978-1-59307-975-8

Lobster Johnson started out as a moody maguffin in the gloriously expansive universe inhabited by Hellboy, the B.P.R.D. and other assorted marvels from the mind of Mike Mignola.

He was initially introduced after his death: the unquiet spirit of a lost and forgotten 1930s hero who solved his last case from beyond the grave. The character was created as an amalgam and analogue of Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Spider and all those other uncompromising, two-fisted pulp crusaders who smashed crime and slew monsters…

Whenever a really talented creator or team pay proper attention to little details, the result can generally stand on its own two feet and, after continuing to pop up in further tales, the craftily-conceived Lobster eventually proved popular enough to star in his own string of miniseries, fabulously celebrating the heyday of mass-literacy fiction and hard-core horror-heroes. This first collection gathers the 5-issue saga of Iron Prometheus with script by Mignola, art by Jason Alexander, colours courtesy of Dave Stewart and letters by Clem Robbins.

Leather-clad, gun-toting and implacably invincible, the Master of Justice and his small team of agents wade through a mountain of enemies malign, mystical and/or murderously mundane; delivering a mesmerising wild ride in the manner of a cliff-hanging movie-serial Chapter Play which opens in New York City in 1937…

A worried young man is being hunted by incredible creatures. However, as a brutal yeti attacks, the Lobster intervenes to save the kid but looks like he’s finally met his match. Happily Jim Sacks activates the incredible armoured suit he’s wearing and fries the beast…

Before the embattled Yanks can catch their breath, German agents move in and a pitched battle erupts with the bewildered Jim again displaying the suit’s incredible powers to great effect.

In a brief lull Johnson astounds the kid with his knowledge: somehow the leather-helmeted mystery man knows Jim was a tailor’s dummy and guinea pig for eccentric Professor Kyriakos Gallergas – but not that the inventor and his daughter Helena were recently attacked and made him flee with the outfit to keep it from unspecified enemies…

Before long Sacks is brought to the Lobster’s underground lair, even as in the city above the hero is in Chinatown consulting prophets. They warn of deadly danger, doom and dragons and offer a name to trace… Memnan Saa

Back below Jim is telling all he knows about his mighty Vril Energy Suit – which isn’t much – when the Lobster returns with a lead to a warehouse downtown.

Inside it, a sinister mage is indulging in a spot of torture and suggesting to Gallergas that Helena might be next. After Jim, Johnson and his gang embark on their rescue mission, the VES is again the deciding factor in an uneven battle, but only until the inexperienced Sacks steps into a carefully prepared booby-trap.

This leaves Johnson at the mercy of old enemy Doctor Waxman and a terrifying cyborg thug even as Jim finds himself conversing with Helena in a spectral arctic landscape she calls the Grave of the Emperor of the World

As the Lobster mops up his opponents, in that icy other-place Jim succumbs to arcane assault, but when the sagacious mage turns his attention to the masked man the wizard learns that high explosives carry their own extremely effective magic…

Jim comes to in a Hoboken warehouse and sees with horror what has been done to Professor Gallergas. The monstrously misused scientist reveals the secret of Vril and how his abductors plan to use the ancient energy to awaken an antediluvian evil. The traumatised boy also discovers what has been done to him too, just as Lobster and his team burst in…

As Jim struggles with a brute gradually transforming into a diabolical monster, deep inside that house of horrors Lobster battles a maniac to rescue Helena, but they are too late: the dragon has risen…

The mage wants 368 more just like it but the Vril has unleashed supernatural forces on the side of Good too, and Sacks and the Professor are ready to fight to save their world, even if they are no longer truly part of it…

Johnson is determined to deliver his own harsh brand of justice, but pursuit of the mage leads him into distracting clashes with monsters and zombies which are not nearly as devious as the Nazi agents coolly waiting to ambush him…

Knocked unconscious, the Lobster somehow confronts the mage on an eerie, icy plane before seemingly succumbing to dark rites and awakening in the custody of the German agents who have also been seeking the Vril suit since the beginning. They seem oblivious to the actions of the sinister sorcerer, however, and are far more concerned with taking what fragments of armour they have scavenged and covering their escape by eradicating New York City…

Lobster Johnson has one last play if he is to save himself and the unwitting millions residing in the sleeping city…

Interspersed with compelling faux magazine articles on ‘The True History of Lobster Johnson’ – detailing the various media incarnations of the macabre man of mystery – and topped off with a vast Lobster Johnson Sketchbook section displaying working drawings, roughs, model-sheets and layouts from Mignola, Armstrong and contributing designer Guy Davis; this is a potent and powerful supernaturally-tinged action romp to quicken the hearts of every aficionado of fantastic adventure.
™ & © 2007, 2008 Mike Mignola. Lobster Johnson™ and all other prominently featured characters are trademarks of Mike Mignola.

Hellboy volume 7: The Troll Witch and Others


By Mike Mignola, Richard Corben, P. Craig Russell, Dave Stewart & various (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-59307-860-7

Hellboy was first seen in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 (August 1993) before formally debuting. That launch was in miniseries Seed of Destruction with John Byrne scripting over Mignola’s plot and art.

As a baby Hellboy was taken – on December 23rd 1944 – from Nazi cultists by American superhero The Torch of Liberty and a squad of US Rangers. They had interrupted a satanic ritual predicted by Allied parapsychologist Professor Trevor Bruttenholm and his associates.

They were waiting at a ruined church in East Bromwich, England when the abominable infant with a huge stone right hand materialised in a fireball. Raised by Bruttenholm, the child grew into a mighty warrior fighting a never-ending secret war. The Professor trained the infernal foundling whilst forming an organisation to destroy supernatural threats – the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

After years of such devoted intervention, education and warm human interaction, in 1952 the neophyte hero began destroying unnatural threats and supernatural monsters as lead agent for the BPRD. “Hellboy” rapidly became its top operator… the world’s most successful paranormal investigator…

As the decades unfold, Hellboy gleans snatches of his origins, learning he is a supposedly corrupted creature of dark portent: born a demonic messiah, somehow destined to destroy the world and bring back ancient powers of evil. It is a fate he despises and utterly rejects…

This sinister seventh spellbinding compendium of graphic grotesquery and grave wit collects material from 2003 to 2007 as previously seen in The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft, The Dark Horse Book of the Dead, The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings, The Dark Horse Book of Monsters, 2-issue miniseries Hellboy: Makoma, the Hellboy Premiere Edition and Hellboy: Wizard 1/2. Also included is an original story created especially for his trade paperback edition.

The format is a gathered scattering of short yarns and vignettes presenting exploits from Hellboy’s chequered career as a “weird-buster” and, following an engaging Introduction from fellow multi-talented tale-weaver Walter Simonson, Mignola briefly expounds on the folkloric influences and other antecedents of the uncanny yarns which follow before the eldritch enigmas at last unfold.

Coloured and lettered by regular support crew Dave Stewart and Clem Robins, ‘The Penanggalan’ (Hellboy Premiere Edition, 2004) is set in 1958 Malaysia with the already world-weary troubleshooter investigating a macabre vampiric creature with disgusting habits and a neat line in deceptive camouflage. Even though appearances are frequently deceiving, the veteran monster-hunter is not fooled by a pretty face or placid demeanour…

‘The Hydra and the Lion’ (The Dark Horse Book of Monsters) resulted from a collaboration between Mignola and his young daughter: subtly referencing Hercules’ legendary battles against the Nemean lion and a many-headed dragon. Hellboy’s frenetic clash occurred in Alaska in 1961 after the death of a circus strongman somehow led to recurring raids by monsters in the fog…

Eponymous lead feature ‘The Troll Witch’ came from The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft and is set in Norway circa 1963. It opens with Hellboy quizzing a wizened crone whilst investigating a series of bizarre and unnaturally savage murders. She relates an old legend of a barren woman who sought magical aid to give her husband children. The successful outcome was two girls. One was beautiful and one was not…

When trolls took the lovely lass, her ugly sister responded with great fury and effect to save her… and therein lay the clue to Hellboy’s latest case… and its eventual solution…

‘The Vampire of Prague’ – written by Mignola, mischievously illustrated by P. Craig Russell, with colours by Lovern Kindzierski and the lettering of Galen Showman – was created especially for this compilation and was the result of the author’s trip to the Czech republic whilst scouting movie locations…

With sublime wit and sly joy, it details the depredations of an ancient gambling-addicted bloodsucker and how the reign of terror was finally ended in one night in August 1982 when a certain red-faced, stone-handed hero hit town…

Mignola, Stewart & Robins reunited for ‘Dr. Carp’s Experiment’ (The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings) with Hellboy embroiled in an atypical ghost story, confronting restless spirits in an old house on Long Island in 1991: a dank domicile blighted not just by gore-drenched phantoms but also malevolent time-travellers and killer-apes wielding electric harpoons…

‘The Ghoul or Reflections on Death and The Poetry of Worms’ by Mignola, Stewart & Robins is an experimental item from The Dark Horse Book of the Dead, taking place in London 1992 with our paranormal paragon hunting a predatory, verse-spouting cadaver consumer.

The narrative remainder of the book offers Mignola’s broad interpretation of African myth Makoma and the Giants, realised here by the one-and-only Richard Corben, with Stewart & Robins in dutiful attendance.

‘Makoma or, A Tale Told by a Mummy in the New York City Explorers Club on August 16 1993’ is a story within a story outlining how Hellboy’s visit to a venerable institution exposes an unsuspected connection to one of Earth’s earliest and most important champions who tackled terrible titans, tamed the wild places and faced devils and dragons whilst setting mankind in his rightful place in the world hierarchy…

The epic adventure is supplemented by a new Mignola pinup, a Corben cover gallery and sketchbook pages by Mignola and Russell.

Baroque, bombastic, suspenseful and explosively action-packed, this is another superbly scary rollercoaster ride to delight one and all.
™ and © 2007, 2006, 2005 2004 and 2003 Mike Mignola. Hellboy is ™ Mike Mignola. Introduction © 2006 Walter Simonson. All rights reserved.

B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs volume 3


By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Guy Davis, Dave Stewart & Clem Robbins (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-59582-860-6 (HC):       978-1616556228 (PB)

Hellboy is a creature of vast depth and innate mystery; a demonic baby summoned to Earth by Nazi occultists at the end of Word War II but subsequently raised, educated and trained by parapsychologist Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm to destroy unnatural threats and supernatural monsters as the lead field-agent for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

After decades of unfailing, faithful service, in 2001 he became mortally tired and resigned. Itinerantly roaming the world, he still managed to constantly encounter weird happenstances, never escaping trouble or his own sense of duty. He’s only a momentary guest star in this book.

This particular massive tome – available in hardback, paperback and digital formats – in fact stars his trusty comrades: valiant champions of varying shades of human-ness who police those occult occasions which typically fall under the remit of the Enhanced Talents task force of the B.P.R.D.

If you’re having trouble with the concept, think of a government-sanctioned and internationally co-sponsored Ghostbusters dealing with Buffy-style threats to humanity.

The B.P.R.D. rapidly established itself as a viable publishing premise in its own right through a succession of interlinked miniseries; confronting an ancient, arcane amphibian menace to humanity in an immense epic which spanned eight years of comicbook releases.

Previously collected as a series of trade paperbacks during that time, the entire supernatural saga – latterly dubbed Plague of Frogs – was remastered as a quartet of monumental full-colour volumes, of which this is the twisted third.

Gathering material from B.P.R.D. The Universal Machine; Garden of Souls and Killing Ground – volumes 6 through 8 respectively – this macabre masterpiece opens with a handy recap page identifying key personnel of the B.P.R.D.

Then an equally informative Introduction from series editor Scott Allie provides context and background in the organisation’s struggle against the eons-old supernal force mutating humans into terrifying frog-monsters as well as few behind-the-scenes production secrets…

At the end of the previous collection, the team had narrowly avoided the end of the world by finding the Frog citadel and defeating marauding Elder God-made-grisly-flesh Katha-Hem… but at great and tragic cost…

Crafted throughout by writers Mignola and John Arcudi, illustrated by Guy Davis, lettered by Clem Robins and coloured from Dave Stewart, ‘The Universal Machine’ (originally a 5-part miniseries spanning April to August 2006) takes up the story as amphibious Abe Sapien and undead marine Benjamin Daimio oversee the sterilising carpet-bombing of the city the Frog destroyed to summon their archaic eidolon.

Back at their new Colorado base, pyrokinetic Liz Sherman and disembodied psychic Johann Krauss discuss with historian Dr. Kate Corrigan how to resurrect their fallen comrade Roger the Homunculus from the pile of broken rubble he was reduced to…

Despite Roger’s mystical origins that prospect seems unlikely until the B.P.R.D. are offered a copy of legendary alchemical tome “A True Record of the Workings of the Universal Machine” by an enigmatic bookseller in France…

Soon Corrigan and trainee researcher Andrew Devon are in the picturesque village of Ableben, discussing the unnatural events of 1491 which shattered the castle of local lord Marquis Adoet de Fabre and scattered his celebrated collection of monsters, grotesques and magical artefacts…

The bookseller is a weird and difficult cove, clearly more intent on teasing his customers than selling his wares, and when Devon steps outside to report in, Corrigan’s suspicions are proved right.

The vendor is de Fabre himself, laying a trap to abduct her. Whisking Kate back in time, the sinister savant has the book she needs but what he wants in return is a price that cannot be paid…

As Devon quails in the present and in the clutches of a werewolf pack acting as the mage’s 21st century negotiators, back in Colorado the Enhanced Talents squad are sharing coffee and stories. Former Green Beret Daimio at last reveals how he came back from the dead three days after dying in the line of duty…

A covert mission in Central America resulted in the slaughter of him and his team by a jaguar monster. They stayed dead and he didn’t…

Moved by the confession, Johann shares a moment of his former, corporeal, life as a spirit medium: one that only emphasises his own loneliness and moral weakness whilst deeply harming both the living and dead clients he was striving to help…

Liz doesn’t share anything. She’s been acting strange for quite a while now and doesn’t want anyone to know that she’s seeing visions and getting messages from a mystery mage only she can see…

The late night chinwag moves on to pensive Abe, but rather than share his recent life-altering news he prefers to relate the old and sad tale of a family man lost in the Canadian wilderness. By the time he and Hellboy had found Daryl Tynon, the poor slob was well on the way to losing his mind. He had already tasted human flesh and physically transformed into a Wendigo…

Back in the past, the magical collector boasts, brags and bullies. Convinced he has the upper hand, de Fabre shares many of his secrets and displays his greatest prizes, but has grievously underestimated the perspicacity and sheer guts of his merely human hostage…

Victorious but without her prize, Corrigan survives the destruction of de Fabre’s castle and is unceremoniously dumped back in her own time. Although she has failed to find a way to restore Roger, the departed Homunculus has a message for them all, to be delivered by Krauss…

The next volume also started as a 5-issue miniseries. ‘Garden of Souls’ (March to July 2007) concentrates on Abe’s recently uncovered origins and opens in 1859 with psychical researcher Dr. Langdon Everett Caul as part of a group of like-minded men fascinated with arcane secrets. He is present when an Egyptian mummy is unwrapped at a grand soiree. Incredibly, the withered husk was still alive so he and his closest associates in the Oannes Society stole the astonished, outraged ancient Panya, convinced she is the sea goddess Naunet

More than a century later Abe was found by the B.P.R.D. in a tank; a bizarre fish-human hybrid with no memory of his past. It’s all started coming back to him now, however, especially after being sent Caul’s old cigar case with a map neatly tucked inside…

With Daimio as back-up but still sharing nothing, Abe heads to Balikpapan, Indonesia, unaware that his taciturn companion is concealing a few secrets of his own or that best friend Liz is slowly succumbing to the poisonous whispers of someone no one can see and being driven insane by visions of impending Armageddon…

Despite the passage of time the men of the Oannes Society are still alive. Sustaining themselves through steampunk biomechanics, the sages have been building bio-mechanical monsters whilst growing themselves new superhuman flesh bodies to hold their corrupted minds. They have also been waiting for Caul to return and cannot understand his odd new notions of morality…

They have no idea why he should be so upset at what they did to his original body or their current scheme to catastrophically inundate all of South East Asia and harvest the souls of the millions who will drown.

Happily, Ben is on hand to help defuse the plot, assisted by the astounding psychic powers of the still-captive and extremely resentful living mummy Panya…

This all-action adventure then gives way to suspense and revelation in ‘Killing Ground’ (5 issues once spanning August-December 2007) with change in the air at B.P.R.D.’s Colorado HQ.  Johann has taken possession of the last super-body built by the Oannes Society and is becoming increasingly intoxicated by the fleshly sensations he believed denied him forever.

Daimyo is reeling from public revelations that his grandmother was a WWII war criminal, but has managed to keep secret the wizard he periodically sneaks into the base to deal with horrific body changes he doesn’t want his comrades to know about.

Liz is particularly happy. Without being told, new inductee Panya has confirmed the reality of the stranger haunting the harassed pyrokinetic and even offered some suggestions to counter his constant poisonous whispers.

Abe, now officially in charge of the Enhanced team, is overseeing the transfer of now-completely feral Daryl to a newly fortified cell, but cannot help noticing the affect the savage beast has on Daimio…

Trouble is never far away. Soon the base has been infiltrated by a deadly silent intruder whose actions kick off a cascade of disasters, beginning with the escape of Daryl and evisceration of Daimio’s secret wizard. With the base on lockdown and bodies piling up, it’s a time for all hands on deck, but super-strong Johann has vanished.

And then the blizzard hits…

As chaos mounts, the silent intruder finally provides some answers in the most agonising manner imaginable, two separate carnosaurs rip their way through the embattled soldiers on site, another Enhanced team member perishes, a ghostly hero returns and the truth about Daimyo’s death and resurrection are horrifically revealed, leading to a major changing of the guard…

Moreover, even though the War on Frogs seems to be over, the best and worst is yet to come…

Following an Afterword by Arcudi, a wealth of Bonus Features included here comprise comprehensive Sketchbook sections on The Universal Machine, Garden of Souls and Killing Ground – all dutifully annotated by Davis – offering roughs, designs and preliminary artwork from Davis and Mignola

With spectacular supernatural fantasy now a staple of TV and movie genre, these unlikely heroes must be a top pick for every production company out there. Until then, why not stay ahead of the rush by reading these chillingly compelling yarns?
B.P.R.D. ™: Plague of Frogs volume 3 © 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2015 Mike Mignola. Abe Sapien™, Liz Sherman™, Hellboy™, Johann™, Lobster Johnson™ and all other prominently featured characters ™ Mike Mignola. All rights reserved.

B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs volume 2


By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Guy Davis, Herb Trimpe, John Severin, Peter Snejbjerg, Karl Moline & various (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-59582-672-5

Hellboy is a creature of vast depth and innate mystery; a demonic baby summoned to Earth by Nazi occultists at the end of Word War II but subsequently raised, educated and trained by parapsychologist Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm to destroy unnatural threats and supernatural monsters as the lead field-agent for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

After decades of unfailing, faithful service in 2001 he became mortally tired and resigned. Itinerantly roaming the world, he still managed to constantly encounter weird happenstances, never escape trouble or avoid his own sense of duty. This book is not about him.

The massive full-colour hardback collection under review here (also available in digital formats) instead features the trusty comrades he left behind: valiant champions of varying shades of human-ness who also deal with those occult occasions which typically fall under the remit of the Enhanced Talents task force of the B.P.R.D.

If you’re having trouble with the concept, think of a government-sanctioned and internationally co-sponsored Ghostbusters dealing with Buffy-style threats to humanity.

The B.P.R.D. rapidly established itself as a viable publishing premise in its own right through a succession of interlinked miniseries, confronting an ancient, arcane amphibian menace to humanity in an immense epic which spanned eight years of comicbook releases.

Periodically collected as a series of trade paperbacks during that time, the entire supernatural saga – latterly dubbed Plague of Frogs – was remastered as a quartet of monumental full-colour volumes, of which this is the sinister second.

Gathering material from Hellboy Premiere Edition, MySpace Dark Horse Presents #8-9, B.P.R.D.: The Dead, B.P.R.D. volume 5: The Black Flame and B.P.R.D. volume 12: War on Frogs, this macabre triumvirate of terror opens with a handy recap page identifying key personnel of the B.P.R.D. before an equally handy Introduction from series editor Scott Allie provides context and background in the organisation’s struggle against the eons-old supernal force mutating humans into terrifying frog-monsters…

From there it’s a short hop (sorry, sorry!) to ‘Book One: The Dead’, written by Mignola and John Arcudi, illustrated by Guy Davis, lettered as always by Clem Robins and with colours from Dave Stewart. Firstly though that supernatural storm of woe is preceded by the prologue ‘Born Again’ (from Hellboy Premiere Edition) wherein pyrokinetic Liz Sherman, amphibious Abe Sapien, man-made marvel Roger the Homunculus and disembodied psychic Johann Krauss break into a secret tomb beneath a suburb of Chicago and arouse an extremely angry monster spirit warning of worse to follow.

In the aftermath of their spectacular triumph, Roger casually pockets a weird little artefact…

B.P.R.D. volume 4: The Dead properly begins a little later in North Dakota, when an investigation team is wiped out after discovering another nest of Frogs. At the organisation’s HQ in Fairfield, Connecticut the assessment is that the amphibian incursions are growing too rapidly and drastic measures are now called for…

Johann suggests that rather than instant eradication perhaps the answer is translating the bizarre glyphs found at every site. Abe is absent from this meeting, having travelled to Littleport, Rhode Island with psychologist Kate Corrigan in search of his own obscure origins…

Back at base the team meet new field commander Benjamin Daimio, a former marine and Green Beret officer. His qualifications for the new militaristic role include an impressive but classified record in covert operations and the still-unexplained fact that he came back to life on a morgue slab three days after dying in the line of duty…

A brusque man with deep pentagon connections, he quickly arranges for the entire B.P.R.D. to relocate to a super-secret, mothballed military complex in Colorado, much to the suspicious disgust of volatile Liz…

In Littleport, Abe locates the long abandoned house of Langdon Everett Caul and ponders its disturbing but undisclosed link to his own shrouded past…

The next few days are filled with busywork as the B.P.R.D. relocate to Colorado and strive to bring the vast Cold War mountain fortress up to speed and into the 21st century.

Tensions are high in the Enhanced Talents unit as Liz constantly rails against the new military style of working whilst worrying that impressionable Roger is being unduly influenced by Daimio’s forceful, take-charge personality.

Johann is also a cause for concern as his psychic talents seem to be drawing him into himself after he casually mind-scans the ancient edifice they now occupy…

Back in Rhode Island, Abe disturbs a ghost and is drawn into a trap baited with past happiness and bitter memories whilst in Colorado Liz awakens from a nightmare to find Johann acting as if possessed. With Roger in tow, she follows the bodiless medium down into the bowels of the base: a level not listed on any official map or blueprint, blocked by a colossal door covered in strange markings…

Breaking into a hidden chamber, Daimio and the investigators discover a huge cavern filled with skeletons covered in mushrooms, strange machinery and an old German who has been living there since the 1950s…

Quantum physicist Dr. Gunter Eiss worked for the Nazis on mystic science projects. He was sidelined after Hitler ditched his “Operation Himmelmacht” in favour of the Ragna Rok operation which brought Hellboy to Earth. The fringe scientist was scooped up by American forces and brought to Colorado when WWII ended to work on alternative energy research.

Then there was a catastrophic disaster which devastated the still under-construction base and when he regained consciousness Gunter had been entombed with all the dead: lost and forgotten…

Although Eiss seems harmless, nobody is comfortable with his inexplicable survival and reappearance and, all too soon, those misgivings prove well-founded as strange events start plaguing the fortress. Clarity comes when Johann, pressured by odd notions and weird warnings, makes contact with the spirits of Eiss’ dead colleagues.

It’s too late, but as the aged revenant unleashes a storm of insectile horrors inside the base and tries to complete his long-delayed Himmelmacht project, Johann and the recovered dead men are frantically cobbling together a countermeasure of last resort.

…And whilst the team strive to prevent a disaster of literally biblical proportions, in Rhode Island, Abe Sapien struggles to free himself from a ghostly prison of memories and, to his eternal regret, at last succeeds…

War on Frogs began life as a series of one-shots issued in 2008 and 2009. They were collected with ‘Revival’ from MySpace Dark Horse Presents #8-9 as the 12th B.P.R.D. trade paperback volume in April 2009, but as those tales are all set in 2005 during the early days of the battle against the manphibians, they appear next in this remastered compilation.

Each story focuses on one character and many are by guest illustrators, but the “bug-hunt” begins with an all-action engagement from Mignola, Arcudi, Davis, Stewart & Robins featuring Daimio, Liz, Roger and Johann as the enhanced heroes and an army of military specialists clear out a tunnel system overflowing with Frogs only to discover the site is a breeding nest…

Davis then inks Marvel superstar artist Herb Trimpe on an Arcudi script as Abe Sapien removes himself from active duty for a desk job, leaving an increasing martial-minded and bellicose Roger to lead the ground war. The struggle takes him back to Lake Talutah, New York where Hellboy and Abe first battled the Frog things and where the Homunculus discovers those original monsters never left…

Mignola, Arcudi, Davis & Stewart then combine in ‘Revival’ as travelling faith healers spread the Frog contagion throughout the American heartland until Captain Damio tracks them down and deals with the problem in his usual lethally efficient manner…

Arcudi, Stewart and Robins are then joined by the astounding John Severin, who etches a macabre masterpiece as a strictly human team of soldiers attempts to clear out a Frog-infested warship and succumb one by one to the terrors in the darkness.

Then Arcudi & Peter Snejbjerg (with colourist Bjarne Hansen and letterer Robins) depict a turning point in the conflict as psychic Johann realises he can see and communicate with the spirits of dead Frog monsters. Compelled to help the horrors move on, Krauss’ attempt only opens the door to greater terrors and deeper mysteries…

Moving on to B.P.R.D. volume 5: The Black Flame, Mignola, Arcudi, Davis, Stewart & Robins reveal how corrupt and complicit Zinco Industries executive Mr. Pope tries to convert Nazi sympathies and closeted secret knowledge into personal power by using the Frogs’ magic to turn himself into a super-villain.

Beyond his laboratories, the war seems to be going well. Roger has become a fierce and effective warrior, leading many sorties to stamp out the amphibian invaders. However that is about to change as Pope succeeds in cracking the language barrier and learning how to talk to the Frogs. Now, as the Black Flame, he seems to be their uncontested master…

During one battle Liz is given a strange blossom by a bystander and falls into a coma. In a misty dreamworld she is approached by a shrouded stranger who reveals that things are not as they seem and that the war is about to take a very bad turn as far as mankind is concerned…

Further research triggers a panic in B.P.R.D. boffin Professor O’Donnell who flies into a panic after realising Liz’s vision is a warning that antediluvian demon-deity Katha-Hem is coming back and all living things will transform at his vile touch. Suitably chilled, firestarter Liz tries to rouse and warn the Enhanced team, but is too late to save one of them…

As the Black Flame leads his gathered amphibian legions into a cavern system in Idaho, Abe, afflicted by guilt, returns to active duty even as Liz succumbs to further astral communications. The shaken team is far from combat-ready when news comes that Lincoln, Nebraska has been overrun. Before they can react, news comes of concerted attacks all over the North American continent. The Frogs are inexorably on the move and the summons has gone out. Katha-Hem is coming…

As a colossal horror beyond imagining starts destroying man’s cities, Pope realises he is a pawn in a far greater, incalculably older game, whilst Liz confronts her mystery informant before a clue to destroying the monster is grudgingly given. All she has to do is find an artefact Roger once idly picked up on an early mission against the Frogs…

The scene is set for an incomprehensible last battle, but the will the beaten and broken Black Flame remain a thrall of the foe or find redemption and his lost humanity in the final accounting…?

Wrapping up the strip thrills and chills, Arcudi and illustrator Karl Moline focus on the repercussions of the team’s victory in a trenchant Epilogue as shell-shocked, traumatised Liz goes through the motions of mopping-up, possibly finding a new significant other to lean on, but still plagued by visions of the enigmatic man in the mists…

Bonus features included here comprise an informative Afterword by Arcudi describing the behind-the-scenes scripting system he shared with Mignola, plus Notes from Scott Allie and a huge Sketchbook section offering roughs, designs and preliminary artwork from Davis and Mignola on The Dead, The Black Flame and War on Frogs.

With supernatural fantasy now a staple of TV and movie fashion, these unlikely heroes must be a top pick for every production company out there. Until then, why not stay ahead of the rush by reading these truly magical tales?
B.P.R.D. ™: Plague of Frogs volume 2 © 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015 Mike Mignola. Abe Sapien™, Liz Sherman™, Hellboy™, Johann™, Lobster Johnson™ and all other prominently featured characters ™ Mike Mignola. All rights reserved.

Hellboy volume 6: Strange Places


By Mike Mignola with Dave Stewart & Clem Robbins (Dark Horse)
ISBN: 978-1-59307-475-3

Hellboy is a creature of vast depth and innate mystery; a demonic child summoned to Earth by Nazi occultists at the end of World War II. Intercepted and rescued by allied troops, the infernal infant was reared by Allied parapsychologist Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm. After years of devoted intervention, education and warm human interaction, in 1952 Hellboy began destroying unnatural threats and supernatural monsters as lead agent for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

As the decades of his career unfold, Hellboy gleans snatches of his origins, learning he is an infernal creature of dark portent: born an infernal messiah, somehow destined to destroy the world and bring back ancient powers of evil. It is a fate he despises and utterly rejects…

This sinister sixth spellbinding compendium of pictorial paranormality and grave wit collects micro-series Hellboy: The Third Wish #1-2 (July-August 2002) and Hellboy: The Island #1-2 (June and July 2005); the latter augmented with a new 6-page Epilogue for this trade paperback edition.

Following an engaging Introduction from fellow multi-talented macabre-ist Gary Gianni, Mignola briefly explains the origins and antecedents of the marine marvel which follows after which the eldritch enigmas unfold.

At the bottom of the sea three mermaid sisters implore the mighty Bog Roosh to grant their wishes. Her compliance comes at a cost however: the marine maidens must somehow hammer a mystic nail into the head of her great enemy…

Hellboy is currently in Africa, estranged from the B.P.R.D. but still encountering mystic menaces that need stopping. Eventually he stops to listen to the tales of witch-man Mohlomi and is soon under the spell of the tale-teller. Falling into a deep sleep, he dreams of lions who foretell his future…

He awakens to find they have somehow moved to the coast. When Mohlomi tells him the ocean is calling, the baffled but resigned parapsychologist enters the roaring surf and is promptly dragged under the waves, protected only by a bell-charm the witch-man has given him…

Attacked by sea creatures and the three sisters, Hellboy is overcome as soon as he lets go of the jingling trinket and is helpless to prevent them driving in the nail…

Bound and helpless in the Bog Roosh’s power, Hellboy can only watch as the sisters are given theirs hearts’ desires and – in the usual manner of such things – suffer the cruel consequences of double-dealing demonry.

Wise in such matters, Hellboy tries to help the third mermaid avoid her fate but is powerless to prevent the sea witch granting the last wish. The kind act touches the mermaid’s heart and – whilst the witch tries to dismember Hellboy and all the powers of The Pit stand helpless to prevent the end of all their hopes and dreams – she sneaks back and frees him.

Released to vent his considerable anger, Hellboy ends the Bog Roosh and decimates her power, but is ultimately unable to save his saviour…

According to Mignola’s commentary, The Island was a tough tale to write and underwent many strange transmutations and permutations. When it finally appeared it signalled the grand finale of the First Chapter in Hellboy’s life. None of that difficulty is apparent in the tale that follows though: a bleak, moody suspense saga filled with all the answer fans had been craving since the hero’s debut…

Hellboy wades ashore in a drear limbo of shattered ships and broken vessels. Anxious but resolved, he trudges on and joins a motley assemblage of mariners in a protracted boozing session, only later realising he had been drinking with dead men.

A further shock to his system is delivered by old enemy Hecate, who appears gloating and glad that the Bog Roosh failed to kill him. As long as Hellboy lives she can still corrupt or conquer him…

Shunning the Goddess of the Damned, Hellboy wanders on and enters a dilapidated castle where he is sucked into an ancient vision which offers potential clues to his past and future but now only results in him battling ferociously but with little success against yet another gargantuan monster…

He awakes an unknowable time later on a dry, dusty plain with Mohlomi who offers yet more occluded, oblique advice before a revived ghost joins the conversation with the tale of his mortality in ancient Tenochtitlan.

This story of life, death and resurrection coincidentally reveals the secret history of creation, the inevitable end of mankind, what will follow and – most terrifyingly – the truth of Hellboy’s stone hand and his intended role in the ghastly Grand Scheme of Cosmic Doom…

Wrapping up the spectral showcase is an ominous all-new Epilogue as the arcane and infernal powers confer over what the revelations mean to Hellboy. The Fated One is now armed with knowledge but is only drifting closer to his future, no matter how hard he struggles to turn away from it…

Rounding out this apocalyptic endeavour is a stunning Bonus Section which includes the decidedly different first eight pages of the original iteration of The Island – specially inked and coloured for this book – followed by seven powerfully potent, all-action pencil art pages created and then abandoned in the second attempt to tell the tale. Wrapping up the behind-the-scenes extras is a selection of character designs and roughs to sweeten the pot for every lover of great comics art.

Baroque, grandiose, alternating suspenseful slow-boiling tension with explosive spectacle, Strange Places inexorably increases the pace in the race to Armageddon. Blending revelation with astounding adventure to enthral horror addicts and action junkies alike, it is another cataclysmic compendium of dark delights no comics fan or fear fanatic should miss.
™ and © 2006, 2005 and 2002 Mike Mignola. Hellboy is ™ Mike Mignola. Introduction © 2006 Gary Gianni. All rights reserved.