Hellboy volume 5: Conqueror Worm


By Mike Mignola with Dave Stewart & Pat Brosseau (Dark Horse)
ISBN: 978-1-59307-092-2

Hellboy is a creature of vast depth and innate mystery; a demonic child summoned to Earth by Nazi occultists at the end of the Second World War but rescued and reared by Allied parapsychologist Professor TrevorBroomBruttenholm. After years of devoted intervention and education, in 1952 Hellboy began destroying unnatural threats and supernatural monsters as lead agent for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

This fifth fearsome grimoire of graphic terrors and grave wit re-presents the award-winning 4-issue miniseries Hellboy: Conqueror Worm, originally seen from May to August 2001 and featuring earth-shattering battles, cosmic revelations and a crucial turning point in the life of the “world’s greatest paranormal investigator”.

Following an effusively appreciative Introduction – ‘Mike Mignola is a Genius’– by fan and filmic collaborator Guillermo Del Toro, the eerie epic begins on March 20th 1939 when Hunte Castle is invaded by a select force of American soldiers intent on disrupting the plans of “Nazi Einstein” Ernst Oeming.

In the Austrian alpine fortress fanatical scientists and occultists are counting down to Earth’s first space shot when the crack unit – led by two-fisted mystery man Lobster Johnson – storm in with explosive repercussions…

Sixty-one years later the ruins are the scene of careful scrutiny by the B.P.R.D.

NASA telescopes have spotted a Nazi-emblazoned capsule rocketing back to Earth, clearly a result of that clandestine commando mission’s ultimate failure. With the fallen Reich’s past track record of supernatural surprises, Director Tom Manning wants Hellboy and former foe-turned-new-recruit Roger the Homunculus to see what lost secrets they can uncover.

Guiding them is a local girl with useful connections. Lisa Karnstein grew up near the ruins and now works for the Austrian Secret Police…

Before they finally set off, Hellboy endures a distasteful interview with his new boss. The B.P.R.D. bigwigs have placed explosives inside Roger – “just in case” – and want the crimson colossus to carry the detonator with him at all times…

Furious but committed, Hellboy storms off and soon the cautious trio are nearing the summit and ominous ruins. Their way is briefly barred by an enigmatic figure begging them to turn back from the haunted site, but it quickly succumbs to Hellboy’s already short fuse and thundering fists. Before long they are picking their way towards the entrance when shots are fired from ambush and Roger plunges off the side of the mountain…

Angrier than ever, Hellboy smashes into the derelict building to discover one of his oldest enemies in charge of a restored Nazi mission control suite.

Herman Von Klempt was there when Oeming took off for the stars in 1939 and in the years since has become a major menace to civilisation through his macabre transplant experiments and cybernetic killer-apes. The latest incarnation of the latter is what smashes Hellboy into unconsciousness…

When the investigator comes to he is trussed into a typically sadistic torture device and as he screams in agony the Nazi is smugly boasting of the fruition of decades of planning. He is also congratulating his devoted mole within the B.P.R.D. operation…

Elsewhere, what remains of Lobster Johnson makes contact with a presumed-lost B.P.R.D. agent and begins a desperate counterstrike which might be mankind’s only chance of survival, even as Von Klempt’s technicians guide the vintage space capsule to a safe descent…

With Hellboy freed and liberally wreaking carnage amidst the mad scientist’s forces, a third faction then enters the fray, offering crucial intelligence into the demon-foundling’s true origins and early life.

Ignoring the many ghosts infesting the castle, he also reveals how the plan was never to send a living human into space, but to deliver a corpse which would be inhabited by an ancient, arcane monstrosity from antediluvian prehistory: a creature whose reign on Earth would signal the end and obliteration of humanity…

Before dying he finally offers a meagre weapon to oppose the beast, but it seems utterly inconsequential compared to the hideous transformative majesty of the chthonic horror Von Klempt calls the Conqueror Worm…

With all sides in play the supernatural action goes into ghastly overdrive as Hellboy and his allies strive to destroy the creeping evil and its insane acolytes. Enemies fall and allegiances shift from moment to moment, but when the gift-weapon is shattered only the greatest sacrifice imaginable can halt the monster’s domination.

Moreover, even after Hellboy’s greatest, most important triumph his anger at humankind’s madness and venality force him to make the most important decision of his unconventional life…

Wrapping up the spectral showcase is an ominous Epilogue revealing how a convocation of the Weird Warrior’s most dangerous enemies results in one less arch enemy but more trouble in store plus an expansive ‘Hellboy Sketchbook’ section, offering a variety of breathtaking drawings and roughs detailing the development and visual evolution of the beasties and bad guys populating the story.

Baroque, grandiose, rocket-paced and genuinely flavoured with the taste of imminent Armageddon, Conqueror Worm is an astounding adventure to enthral horror addicts and action junkies: another lovingly lurid lexicography of dark delights no comics fan or fear fanatic should miss.
™ and © 2001, 2002 and 2003 Mike Mignola. Hellboy is ™ Mike Mignola. Introduction © 2001 Guillermo Del Toro. All rights reserved.

Hellboy volume 4: The Right Hand of Doom


By Mike Mignola, with Dave Stewart & Pat Brosseau (Dark Horse)
ISBN: 978-1-59307-093-9

Hellboy is a creature of vast depth and innate mystery; a demonic child summoned to Earth by Nazi occultists at the end of the Second World War but rescued and reared by Allied parapsychologist Professor TrevorBroomBruttenholm. After years of devoted intervention and education, in 1952 Hellboy began destroying unnatural threats and supernatural monsters as lead agent for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

This forth fearsome grimoire of graphic terrors and grave wit combines some new material with a gathering of shorter satanic sagas garnered from Dark Horse Presents #151, Dark Horse Presents Annual #1998, Gary Gianni’s The Monster Men, Abe Sapien: Dreams of the Dead and Hellboy: Box Full of Evil #1-2, communally spanning 1998-1999 and offering insights into different stages in the unique life of the “world’s greatest paranormal investigator”.

‘Part One: the Early Years’ leads with the mordantly surreal and hilarious ‘Pancakes’ (Dark Horse Presents Annual #1998 and seen in colour for first time) as a certain 2-year old terror enjoys his first taste of a human treat and is forever lost to the Lords of the Realm Infernal, after which Mignola begins his engaging, informative and ongoing directors’ notes on all the spooky stories contained herein…

Based on a 6th century English legend, ‘The Nature of the Beast’ (Dark Horse Presents #151 and also moodily coloured by Dave Stewart for this tome) finds a youthful Hellboy circa 1954, attempting to slay a dragon for a strange group of wise men with a hidden agenda before ‘King Vold’ – created specifically for this volume – sees the monstrous monster hunter in magic-drenched Norway in 1956. He’s been despatched by Professor Bruttenholm to aid scholarly colleague Edmond Aikman in confronting the spirit of a spectral wild huntsman, but once again mystic glamour, the promise of power and the allure of gold have turned a trustworthy ally into a dangerous liability…

Following more of Mignola’s insider information, ‘Part Two: the Middle Years’ begins with ‘Heads’ (a back-up from the March 1998 One-Shot Abe Sapien: Dreams of the Dead) with Hellboy exploring a ramshackle Kyoto dwelling in 1967 and outsmarting a six-pack of particularly gruesome Japanese cannibal monstrosities.

‘Goodbye, Mister Tod’ is likewise a back-up vignette (from Gary Gianni’s the Monster Men, August 1999), set in Portland, Oregon in 1979 with the increasingly world-weary investigator called just too late to help a medium who specialised in materialising ectoplasm. All the paranormal problem-solver can do now though is expel the horrific elder god slowly breaking its way into our reality with one of the grossest tactics ever seen in the annals of ghost-busting…

‘The Vârcolac’ originally appeared as six episodes in promo-pamphlet Dark Horse Extra. Here it’s been extensively redrawn and reformatted to fully feast on the action-packed spectacle of Hellboy battling an ultimate vampire so huge it can “eat the Sun and cause eclipses”…

As Mignola explains for ‘Part Three: the Right Hand of Doom’; after half a decade of tumultuous scene-setting, he finally started to answer some long-extant questions about his infernal foundling.

Answers began seeping out in eponymous short ‘The Right Hand of Doom’ from Dark Horse Presents Annual #1998 – presented here in colour for the first time – as the BPRD agent meets a priest with a connection to his arrival on Earth during WWII. Adrian Frost has an ancient document depicting Hellboy’s arcane stone appendage and offers to trade it for the true story of his terrestrial nativity and subsequent career.

The cleric learns how a Lord of Hell and an earthly witch spawned a child of diabolical destiny and how the grand plan was derailed by destiny and a human-reared child who moved Heaven and Hell to live his own life…

That background was soon expanded in 2-part 1999 miniseries ‘Box Full of Evil’ when Hellboy and BPRD associate Abe Sapien return to modern-day Britain to assess a mystic burglary. Old enemy Igor Bromhead has used his magic to steal the ancient metal coffer Saint Dunstan used to imprison a devil, but by the time they find him the vile plotter has opened the box and sold its contents to debauched Satanists Count Guarino and Countess Bellona.

Their facile joy is short-lived as the little double-dealer takes possession of the cask’s true treasure. In return for paltry wealth and appalling knowledge, the freed demon shares the secret name and true nature of Hellboy as well as his Abysmally-ordained destiny. It even helps Igor ambush the investigator, usurping both Hellboy’s true power and ascribed role in the destruction of the universe…

With that misappropriated magical might, the demon begins to end creation but has not reckoned on the incredible will and sheer bloody-mindedness of the paranormal troubleshooter, nor those other ancient powers of the Earth who have no intention of dying before their appointed times…

This astounding tale of hell-bent heroism and cosmic doom is then followed by an all-new 4-page epilogue which offers dark portents of further trials for the monster who will always be his own man…

Wrapping up the spectral showcase is a reproduction of the superb and spooky cover of the French collected Box Full of Evil plus a huge ‘Hellboy Sketchbook’ section, offering a variety of breathtaking drawings and roughs spanning 1993 through 1999.

Baroque, grandiose, fast-paced and deceptively witty, these tall tales will captivate adventure and horror addicts in equal amounts, making this another lovingly lurid lexicography of dark delights no comics fan or fear fantasy fanatic should be without.
™ and © 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2003 Mike Mignola. Hellboy is ™ Mike Mignola. All rights reserved.

Hellboy volume 3: The Chained Coffin and Others


By Mike Mignola with James Sinclair, Matt Hollingsworth & Dave Stewart (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-59307-091-5

Hellboy is a creature of vast depth and innate mystery; a demonic baby summoned to Earth by Nazi occultists at the end of World War II before being intercepted and subsequently reared by parapsychologist Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm. After years of devoted intervention and education, in 1952 Hellboy began destroying unnatural threats and supernatural monsters as the lead agent for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

This third epic collection gathers a number of shorter sagas: The Wolves of August originally serialised in Dark Horse Presents #88-91, Advance Comics/Hellboy: The Corpse and the Iron Shoes, Hellboy: Almost Colossus plus material from Dark Horse Presents 100 #2 and Hellboy: Christmas Special, communally spanning 1994-1997 and leads off with an enthusiastic appreciation from devoted fan P. Craig Russell in his Introduction. Mignola also offers directors’ notes on all the spooky stories contained herein…

The supernatural superstar was never conventional, especially in his publication schedule. Hellboy’s shorter adventures materialised in many different venues whilst his own title had the appearance of a succession of one-shots and limited series. Mignola, however, had a solid marketing plan from the start. The stories had an internal numbering system (if you’re that interested check it out on Wikipedia and leave them a donation while you’re at it) which allowed him to make stops back and forth along his proposed timeline and build years of continuity in mere months…

Thus this collection of brief, bold blockbusters opens with ‘The Corpse’ which first saw print in monochrome in Advance Comics catalog. Here an old Irish fairytale is expanded and remastered in full colour as Hellboy’s attempts to rescue a baby stolen by the Little People one night in 1959 results in the unlikely hero making a fool’s bargain.

All the graves are full but he must find a final and proper resting place for a very vocal cadaver before the sun rises…

The action-packed errand leads to confrontations with ghosts, devils and worse before our scarlet champion parks the body and gets back the bairn…

Immediately following is thematic epilogue ‘The Iron Shoes’ which rapidly relates another Celtic saga set two years later when Hellboy drags a goblin out of the holy site it’s defiling before laying it at the feet of Father Edward Kelly

‘The Baba Yaga’ was created specially for this compilation and describes in dire detail how the legendary Russian witch lost her eye to Hellboy in their first confrontation. Thereafter, ‘A Christmas Underground’ (from 1997’s Hellboy: Christmas Special) offers eerie and ethereal miasmic horror in the best seasonal manner. England, Christmas Eve, 1989 and Hellboy is on a death-watch. Aged and ailing Mrs. Hatch talks of her long-lost baby girl Annie. Leaving her, the un-horned hero follows a trail to a graveyard and down beneath it. Soon he is attending a dark soiree to rescue the child, now the restless bride of a prince of the Pit. After a most brutal struggle Hellboy celebrates the nativity by setting two souls to rest…

In 1995 Dark Horse Presents 100 #2 debuted ‘The Chained Coffin’. Here Mignola has partially redrawn the tale and Dave Stewart has added colour to the story of Hellboy’s return to the English church where he first arrived on Earth in 1943. Fifty years of mystery have passed, but as the demon-hunter observes ghostly events replay before his eyes and learns the truth of his origins, Hellboy devoutly wishes he had never come back…

‘The Wolves of Saint August’ ran in Dark Horse Presents #88-91 during 1994 before being reworked a year later for the Hellboy one-shot of the same name. Set in 1994 it sees the red redeemer working with BPRD colleague Kate Corrigan, investigating the death of Hellboy’s old friend Father Kelly in the Balkan village of Griart. It’s not long before they realise the sleepy hamlet is a hidden den of great antiquity where a pack of mankind’s most infamous and iniquitous predators thrive…

Mignola has a sublime gift for setting mood and building tension with great economy. It always means that the inevitable confrontation between Good and Evil has plenty of room to unfold with capacious visceral intensity. This clash between unfrocked demon and alpha lycanthrope is one of the most unforgettable battle blockbusters ever seen…

The story-portion of this magnificent terror-tome concludes with the 2-part miniseries ‘Almost Colossus’ from 1997 wherein traumatised pyrokinetic BPRD agent Liz Sherman awaits test results.

During her mission to Castle Czege (Hellboy volume 2: Wake the Devil) her team uncovered a hidden alchemy lab with a stony homunculus inside. When she touched the artificial man Liz’s infernal energies rushed uncontrollably into the creature and brought it to life…

Now as her own gradually slips away, Hellboy and Corrigan are back in the legend-drenched region, watching a graveyard from which 68 bodies have been stolen…

Elsewhere the fiery homunculus is undergoing a strange experience: he has been abducted by his older “brother” who seeks through purloined flesh, blackest magic and forbidden crafts to perfect their centuries-dead creator’s techniques.

Before the curtain falls, Hellboy, aided by the ghosts of repentant monks and the younger homunculus, is forced to battle a metal giant determined to crown itself the God of Science and save the world if he can and Liz because he must…

Wrapping up the Grand Guignol show is another splendid and whimsical ‘Hellboy Gallery’, featuring stunning efforts from Kevin Nowlan, Matt Smith, Duncan Fegredo, Dave Johnson, Thierry Robin and B.C. Boyer…

Bombastic, lightning-paced, moody and astonishingly addictive, this will delight adventure and horror fans in equal amounts: an arcana of thrills and chills no comics fan should be without.
™ and © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2003 Mike Mignola. Introduction © 1998 P. Craig Russell. Hellboy is ™ Mike Mignola. All rights reserved.

Hellboy volume 2: Wake the Devil


By Mike Mignola with James Sinclair & Pat Brosseau (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-59307-095

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 helping out his new “Legend” stable-mate, scripting over Mignola’s plot and art. Unquestionably the Devil-may-care demon hunter was the most singular, popular and long-lived of the imprint’s fascinating output.

This second outing was an all-Mike extravaganza (with James Sinclair contributing colours and Pat Brosseau printing all the words), as Wake the Devil offered a decidedly different take on the undying attraction of vampires. This particularly impressive Second Edition of the modern classic also has a few extras and leads off with a poetically incisive appreciation in Alan Moore’s Introduction

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

They were waiting at a ruined church in East Bromwich, England when the abominable infant with a huge stone right hand appeared in a fireball. Raised by the Professor, the child grew into a mighty warrior fighting a never-ending secret war. Bruttenholm trained the infernal foundling whilst forming an organisation to destroy supernatural threats – the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. “Hellboy” became its lead agent… the world’s most successful paranormal investigator…

In the previous volume Hellboy and his fellow outré BPRD investigators Elizabeth Sherman and Dr. Abraham Sapien lost their aged mentor, but uncovered and (possibly) frustrated a hellish scheme involving the mad monk Rasputin and the Elder Gods he served.

The undying wizard – agent for antediluvian infinite evil the seven-sided serpent Ogdru-Jahad who-sleeps-and-waits-to-be-reawakened – was responsible for initially summoning Hellboy to Earth as part of the Nazi’s Ragna Rok Project …

Now the Russian’s alliance with Himmler, Hitler and their mystic Nazi think-tank is further explored as somewhere deep inside Norway’s Arctic Circle region, a driven millionaire visits a hidden castle. He is seeking the arcane Aryans long-closeted within, eager to deliver a message from “The Master”. In return he wants sanctuary from the imminent end of civilisation…

In New York City a bloody robbery occurs in a tawdry mystic museum and the BPRD are soon being briefed on legendary Napoleonic soldier Vladimir Giurescu. The enigmatic warrior wasn’t particularly wedded to any side in that conflict and was probably much older than reports indicated…

More important is the folklore which suggests Giurescu was mortally wounded many times but, after retreating to a certain castle in his homeland, would always reappear, renewed refreshed and deadlier than ever.

In 1882 he was in England and clashed with Queen Victoria’s personal ghost-breaker Sir Edward Grey, who was the first to officially identify him as a “Vampire”. In 1944 Hitler met with Vladimir to convince the creature to join him but something went wrong and Himmler’s envoy Ilsa Haupstein was ordered to arrest Giurescu and his “family”. The creatures were despatched in the traditional manner and sealed in boxes… one of which has been stolen from that museum. Moreover, the murdered owner was once part of the Nazi group responsible for Ragna Rok…

The BPRD are always considering worst-case scenarios, and if that box actually contained vampire remains…

The location of the bloodsucker’s fabled castle is unknown, but with three prospects in Romania and only six agents available, three compact teams are deployed with Hellboy on his own to the most likely prospect…

Although not an active agent, Dr. Kate Corrigan wants Hellboy to take especial care. All the indications are that this vampire might be the Big One, even though nobody wants to use the “D” word…

In Romania, somehow still young Ilsa Haupstein is talking to a wooden box, whilst in Norway her slyly observing colleagues Kurtz and Kroenen are concerned. Once the most ardent of believers, she may have been turned from the path of Nazi resurgence and bloody vengeance…

Her former companions are no longer so enamoured of the Fuehrer’s old dream of a vampire army anyway. Leopold especially places more faith in the creatures he has been building and growing…

Over Romania, Hellboy leaps out of the plane and engages his jet-pack, wishing he was going on with one of the other teams and even more so after it flames out and dies…

He has the limited satisfaction of crashing into the very fortress Ilsa is occupying…

The battle with the witch-woman’s grotesque servants is short and savage and as the ancient edifice crumbles Chapter Two reveals how on the night Hellboy was born Rasputin suborned Ilsa and her two companions…

He made them his disciples for the forthcoming awakening of Ogdru-Jahad, saving them from Germany’s ignominious collapse. Now the Russian’s ghost appears to her and offers another prophecy and a great transformation…

Deep in the vaults, Hellboy comes to and meets a most garrulous dead man, unaware that in the village below the Keep the natives are recognising old signs and making all the old preparations again…

Hellboy’s conversation provides lots of useful background information but lulls him into a false sense of security, allowing the revenant to brutally attack and set him up for a confrontation with the ferocious forces responsible for the vampire’s power…

Battling for his life, the BPRD star is a stunned witness to Giurescu’s resurrection and cause of his latest demise, whilst far above Rasputin shares his own origins with acolyte Ilsa, revealing the night he met the infamous witch Baba Yaga

Nearly three hundred miles away Liz and her team are scouring the ruins of Castle Czege. There’s no sign of vampires but they do uncover a hidden alchemy lab with an incredible artefact in it…a stony homunculus. Idly touching the artificial man Liz is horrified when her pyrokinetic energies rush uncontrollably into the creature and it goes on a rampage…

With the situation escalating at Castle Giurescu, Hellboy decides to detonate a vast cache of explosives with the faint hope that he will be airlifted out before they go off, but is distracted by a most fetching monster who calls him by a name he doesn’t recognise before trying to kill him.

If she doesn’t, the catastrophic detonation might…

As the dust settles and civil war breaks out amongst the Norway Nazis, in Romania Ilsa makes a horrific transition and Hellboy awakes to face Rasputin, even as the BPRD rush to the rescue. Tragically Abe Sapien and his squad won’t make it before the revived and resplendent Giurescu takes his shot and the world’s most successful paranormal investigator is confronted and seduced by uncanny aspects of his long-hidden infernal ancestry…

With all hell breaking loose, the displaced devil must make a decision which will not only affect his life but dictate the course of humanity’s existence…

The explosive ending resets the game for Rasputin’s next scheme but the weird wonderment rolls on in a potent epilogue wherein the mad monk visits his macabre patron Baba Yaga for advice…

Bombastic, moody, suspenseful and explosively action-packed, this is a superb scary romp to delight one and all and the pot is sweetened with an Afterword from Mignola and another astounding Hellboy Gallery with pinups from our man Mike, Bruce Timm, P. Craig Russell, Derek Thompson, Dave Cooper, Jay Stevens and Olivier Vatine, rendering this a supernatural thriller no comics fan should be without.
© 1993, 1994, 1997, 1999 and 2003 Mike Mignola. Introduction © 1997 Alan Moore. Hellboy is ™ Mike Mignola. All rights reserved.

Hellboy volume 1: Seed of Destruction


By Mike Mignola & John Byrne with Mark Chiarello & Matt Hollingsworth (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-59307-094-6

After the establishment of the comicbook direct market system, there was a huge outburst of independent publishers in America and, as with all booms, a lot of them went bust. Some few however were more than flash-in-the-pans and grew to become major players in the new world order.

Arguably, the most successful was Dark Horse Comics who fully embraced the shocking new concept of creator ownership (amongst other radical ideas). This concept – and their professional outlook and attitude – drew a number of big name creators to the new company and in 1994 Frank Miller and John Byrne formally instituted the sub-imprint Legend for those projects major creators wanted to produce their own way and at their own pace.

Over the next four years the brand counted Mike Mignola, Art Adams, Mike Allred, Paul Chadwick, Dave Gibbons and Geof Darrow amongst its ranks and generated a wealth of superbly entertaining and groundbreaking series and concepts. Unquestionably the most impressive, popular and long-lived was Mignola’s supernatural thriller Hellboy.

The monstrous monster-hunter debuted in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 (August 1993) before formally launching in 4-issue miniseries Seed of Destruction with Byrne scripting over Mignola’s plot and art. Colourist Mark Chiarello added layers of mood with his understated hues.

Those stories and an ancillary tale from Comics Buyer’s Guide make up this impressive Third Edition of the modern classic and it’s all kicked off with an effusive Introduction from Master of Terror Robert Bloch…

The story begins with a review of secret files. On December 23rd 1944 American Patriotic superhero The Torch of Liberty and a squad of US Rangers interrupted a satanic ritual predicted by Allied parapsychologist Professors Trevor Bruttenholm and Malcolm Frost in conjunction with influential Medium Lady Cynthia Eden-Jones. They were waiting at a ruined church in East Bromwich, England when a demon baby with a huge stone right hand appeared in a fireball. The startled soldiers took the infernal yet seemingly innocent waif into custody.

Far further north, off the Scottish Coast on Tarmagant Island, a cabal of Nazi Sorcerers roundly berated ancient wizard Grigori Rasputin whose Project Ragna Rok ritual seemed to have failed. The Russian was unfazed. Events were unfolding as he wished…

Five decades later, the baby has grown into a mighty warrior in a never-ending secret war: the world’s most successful paranormal investigator. Bruttenholm has spent the years raising the weird foundling whilst forming an organisation to destroy unnatural threats and supernatural monsters – the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. “Hellboy” is now its lead agent…

The recently-returned, painfully aged professor summons his surrogate son and warns him of impending peril wrapped in obscured reminiscences of his own last case. The Cavendish Expedition discovered an ancient temple submerged in arctic ice, but what happened next has been stricken from Bruttenholm’s memory. Before he can say more the mentor is killed by a plague of frogs and enraged Hellboy is battling for his life against a demonic amphibian…

Following fact-files about Project Ragna Rok and ‘An African Myth about a Frog’ Chapter Two opens at eerie Cavendish Hall, set on a foetid lake in America’s Heartland. Matriarch Emma Cavendish welcomes Hellboy and fellow BPRD investigators Elizabeth Sherman and Dr. Abraham Sapien but is not particularly forthcoming about her family’s obsession.

Nine generations of Cavendish have sought for and sponsored the search for the Temple at the Top of the World. Three of her own sons were lost on the latest foray, from which only Bruttenholm returned, but her story of how founding patriarch Elihu Cavendish’s obsession infected every male heir for hundreds of years imparts no fresh insights. She also says she knows nothing about frogs, but she’s lying and the agents know it…

As they retire for the night, Hellboy’s companions prepare for a fight. Liz is a psychic firestarter but is still taken unawares when the frogs attack and the Daring Demon fares little better against another titanic toad-monster. Of Abe there is no sign: the BPRD’s own amphibian has taken to the dank waters of the lake in search of long-buried answers…

And then a bald Russian guy claiming to know the truth of Hellboy’s origins appears and monstrous tentacles drag the infernal avenger through the floor…

Chapter Three opens in a vast hidden cellar where Rasputin explains he is the agent for antediluvian infinite evil: seven-sided serpent Ogdru-Jahad who sleeps and waits to be reawakened. Hellboy was summoned from the pit to be the control interface between the great beast and the wizard as he oversaw the fall of mankind, but when the BPRD agent refuses – in his own obtuse, obnoxious manner – Rasputin goes crazy…

Overwhelmed by the Russian’s frog servants, Hellboy is forced to listen to the story of Rasputin’s alliance with Himmler and Hitler and how they sponsored a mystic Nazi think-tank to conquer the Earth; of how the mage manipulated the fanatics, found the Temple at the Top of the World and communed with The Serpent; of how the last Cavendish Expedition awoke him and how he used them to trace the tool he had summoned from Hell half a century ago…

And then he reveals how his infernal sponsor Sadu-Hem, intermediary of The Serpent, has grown strong on human victims but will become unstoppable after feasting on Liz’s pyrokinetic energies…

With all hell literally breaking loose the final chapter finds Rasputin exultantly calling upon each of the seven aspects as Hellboy attempts a desperate, doomed diversion and the long-missing Abe Sapien finally makes his move, aided by a hidden faction Rasputin had not anticipated…

The breathtaking conclusion sees the supernal forces spectacularly laid to rest, but the defeat of Sadu-Hem and his Russian puppet only opens the door for other arcane adversaries to emerge…

Bombastic, moody, laconically paced, suspenseful and explosively action-packed, Seed of Destruction manages the masterful magic trick of introducing a whole new world and making it seem like we’ve always lived there. This edition also sweetens the pot with bonus features like the sketch-packed ‘Where the Hell Did He Come From? – Personal reminiscences by Mike Mignola’ and ‘More First Things’: the initial proto-stories from San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 (where he clobbered a gas station dog demon) and Comics Buyer’s Guide with the World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator scuttling the plans of a Nazi brain-in-a-bottle and his talking gorillas…

Wrapping up the show is a Hellboy Gallery with pinups from Simon Bisley, Mike Allred. Art Adams, Frank Miller, Fred Blanchard & Gary Gianni, making this a supernatural thriller no comics fan should be without.
© 1993, 1994, 1997, 1999 and 2003 Mike Mignola. Introduction © 1994 Robert Bloch. Hellboy is ™ Mike Mignola. Torch of Liberty ™ John Byrne, Inc. Madman ™ Mike Allred. Blitz the Maniac Mandrill ™ Simon Bisley. All rights reserved.

Abe Sapien: The Drowning


By Mike Mignola & Jason Shawn Alexander (Dark Horse)
ISBN: 978-1-59582-185-0

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 democracy-loving parapsychologist Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm to destroy unnatural threats and supernatural monsters as the chief agent for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

After decades of unfailing, faithful service the big red rover became mortally tired and resigned. Itinerantly roaming the world, he still managed to encounter strange deaths and weird happenstances, never able to outrun trouble or his sense of duty.

This book is not about him.

The collection under review here instead notionally features the first solo exploit of his trusty amphibian associate Abe Sapien: a valiant yet deeply unsure and insecure champion whose origins and experience with those occult occasions typically handled by the Enhanced Talents Task Force are at this time still largely theoretical…

Originally released as a 5-part miniseries from February to June, 2008, The Drowning is scripted by creative head honcho Mike Mignola and moodily realised by Jason Shawn Alexander who also provides a fabulous and informative Abe Sapien Sketchbook at the back of this full-colour walk – or is that swim? – on the weird and wild side. Also involved in this tribute to black arts is letterer Clem Robins with the magical colours coming from Dave Stewart.

The action opens with a glimpse into demonic deeds of the past as, in 1884, occult detective Edward Grey boldly and bombastically defeats mighty warlock Epke Vrooman before sinking his hellish ship sixty miles off the French coast near the former leper-colony of Isle Saint-Sébastien.

In (contemporary) 1981 Hellboy is gone from the B.P.R.D. and Chief Bruttenholm pushes reticent Abe into leading a milk-run mission to retrieve the fabulous, lore-laden Lipu Dagger Queen Victoria’s Most Special Agent used to end the malevolent mage almost a century before.

With experienced agents already in place, all the merman has to do is dive deep and fetch back the prize artefact. Sadly, with magic nothing is ever easy…

As the on-site proceedings get underway none of the B.P.R.D. team are aware that unquiet spirits are already undertaking their own recovery mission and whilst horrific monsters intercept Abe at the sunken wreck, back on land an ancient crone puts into motion the ceremony she has waited her entire life to complete…

By the time the battered aquatic investigator struggles ashore almost everyone on Saint-Sébastien is dead and a pack of wizened devils are attempting to resurrect their diabolical master. Cut off from the outside world and unable to pass this mess on to somebody more qualified, Abe is flailing until the old woman takes charge, instructing him in some deeper truths about the Isle, the god the benighted inhabitants chose to worship and what truly moved and motivated Epke Vrooman on the last night of his former life…

Armed with appalling information and the knowledge that there’s no one to save the day, the neophyte agent turns to face his greatest challenge and worst nightmares…

Mignola has an incredible knack for creating powerfully welcoming mythologies and this escapade effectively dragged Abe Sapien out of the overwhelming shadow of satanic superstar Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. and set him on his way as a celebrated solo star.

Potent, powerful and utterly drenched in uncanny atmosphere, this is a terrific tale of an irresistible horror hero to haunt your dreams.
© 2008 Mike Mignola. All rights reserved. All key and prominently featured characters ™ Mike Mignola.

B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs volume 1


By Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Tom Sniegoski, Brian McDonald, Miles Gunther, Brian Augustyn, Geoff Johns, Joe Harris, Guy Davis, Ryan Sook, Matt Smith, Derek Thompson, Michael Avon Oeming, Scott Kolins, Adam Pollina, Cameron Stewart & various (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-5958-2675-6

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: Epic Eldritch Entertainment… 9/10

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 agent for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

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

The massive collection under review here instead features his trusty comrades and other assorted spin-off characters from Mike Mignola’s legendary franchise: valiant champions who also deal with those occult occasions which typically fall under the remit of the Enhanced Talents task force established in Fairfield, Connecticut as the baby imp grew to monster-mangling manhood.

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.

As discussed in Scott Allie’s Introduction, the B.P.R.D. soon established itself as a viable premise in its own right and, through a succession of interlinked miniseries, went on to battle an ancient and arcane amphibian menace to the world in an immense epic which spanned eight years of publication.

Periodically released as a series of trade paperbacks during that time, the entire supernatural saga dubbed Plague of Frogs has been remastered and will be now be collected as a quartet of monumental volumes, of which this is the fearsome first. Gathering material from Hellboy: Box full of Evil, one-shots Abe Sapien: Drums of the Dead, B.P.R.D.: Hollow Earth, B.P.R.D.: The Soul of Venice, B.P.R.D.: Dark Waters, B.P.R.D.: Night Train, B.P.R.D.: There’s Something Under My Bed, 5-issue miniseries B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs and choice snippets from the publisher’s trade flyer Dark Horse Extra, this macabre triumvirate of terror opens with ‘Hollow Earth’ written by Mignola, Christopher Golden & Tom Sniegoski and illustrated by Ryan Sook with additional inking from Curtis Arnold, letters from Clem Robins and magical colours from the himself-legendary Dave Stewart.

After the events of Hellboy: Conqueror Worm, the horned hero quit the B.P.R.D. which had been his only home since he was rescued from those Fascist sorcerers on December 23rd 1944, and our tale begins with the remaining investigators questioning their own validity in and responsibilities to an organisation which clearly does not fully trust or appreciate them.

Such ponderings are sidelined however when on-sabbatical pyrokinetic Liz Sherman sends a spectacular distress call to amphibious Abe Sapien. Since she has been missing for two years nobody downplays it and a scratch team is promptly dispatched to her last known location, a temple in the Ural Mountains, on the Arctic Circle.

The squad comprises conflicted, lonely Abe, disgruntled artificial warrior Roger the Homunculus (still peeved by the discovery that his bosses planted a bomb inside him to ensure he remained controllable) and new recruit Johann Krauss, a recently disembodied psychic, led by reluctantly promoted psychologist/ field commander Kate Corrigan

When they arrive they find all the priests of Agartha slaughtered and Liz’s body cold and empty… but not dead. Also scattered about are the bodies of dead monsters and a great big hole leading down through the mountain into untrammelled subterranean depths…

Realising that Liz’s animating energy has been stolen, Abe and the team plunge into the darkness, determined to rescue their comrade and solve the mystery…

And so begins a ponderously oppressive, doom-laden classic adventure of sub-Terrene lost civilisations, ancient races, infernal entities and imminent threat of world conquest, all dealt with in blockbusting fashion by moodily charismatic heroes in the supremely entertaining action-packed, tension-filled nick-of-time.

Crafted by the same creative team and lettered by Dan Jackson, the under-Earth escapade is followed by ‘Hollow Earth, Dark Horse Extra’ which offers the tragic origin of bodiless spiritualist Johann Kraus, after which ‘The Killer in My Skull’ (written by Mignola, drawn by Matt Smith, inked by Sook and coloured by Stewart, introduces 1930’s masked ghost-breaker Lobster Johnson in a splendid weird-science shocker, whilst ‘Abe Sapien versus Science’ chills through an intimate glimpse at the fabulous manphibian’s early days as a guinea pig of the B.P.R.D.’s research division, with Mignola replacing Smith as inker. Pat Brosseau is the under-appreciated letterer in both cases, which both originally appeared as back-up strips from the miniseries Hellboy: Box Full of Evil.

Next up is a full-length Abe Sapien solo thriller, courtesy of writer Brian McDonald, illustrator Derek Thompson, colourist James Sinclair and Brosseau. ‘Drums of the Dead’ is a splendidly spooky sea-faring thriller involving voodoo, sharks and the unhappy unburied as Abe and apprentice Bureau psychic Garrett investigate uncanny and lethal transatlantic phenomena in the seas where once slave traders sailed…

The second book in this mammoth compilation is ‘The Soul of Venice and Other Stories’ commencing with that eponymous yarn by Miles Gunther & Michael Avon Oeming with a little help from Mignola, colours by Stewart and letters by Ken Bruzenak.

It all kicks off as amphibian Abe, bodiless Johann, lonely Roger and newly reinstated firestarter Liz are dispatched to Venice (that other one in Italy) to solve a literally nauseating crisis.

To fix the problem they have to invade a haunted palazzo, battle a debauched ghost-vampire and liberate an ancient Roman Goddess, incurring along the way the extremely polite disinterest of archdevil Lord Shax of Hell. However, in the triumphant aftermath Roger and the liberated deity Cloacina strike up an unlikely relationship…

Brian Augustyn, Guy Davis, Stewart and Michelle Madsen then pit Sapien and Roger against religious zealotry and misunderstood arcane forces in ‘Dark Waters’.

When the corpses of three women branded as witches centuries earlier are pulled, inert, unchanged and smelling of roses, from a 300-year interment at the bottom of a duck pond in Shiloh (near Salem), Massachusetts the duo reluctantly investigate, but things go nastily awry when fire-and-brimstone preacher Pastor Blackwood steals the bodies.

Happily the agents and a more piously forgiving man of god are able to thwart the witch-hunting loon before he unleashes forces nothing could stop…

‘Night Train’ (Geoff Johns, Scott Kolins, Stewart & Brosseau) give the old “ghost locomotive” plot an effective tweak when Liz and Roger meet the unquiet spirit of Lobster Johnson. The bombastic mystery man has returned to help stop the aged Nazi maniac who killed him and slaughtered a convoy of Manhattan Project scientists in 1939…

The entire team are on hand to solve the mystery of disappearing babies in ‘There’s Something Under My Bed’ by Joe Harris, Adam Pollina, Guillermo Zubiaga, Lee Loughridge & Brosseau, leaving the “Enhanced Talents” (at least) wondering if they should revise their definition of the term “monster”, after which ‘Another Day at the Office’ (Mignola, Cameron Stewart, Madsen & Michael Heisler) raucously recounts the fate of a resurrected Balkan necromancer who thought his zombie legions a match for Abe, Johann and a squad of well-armed, well-trained B.P.R.D. regulars…

The third and final Book reprints the monstrously chilling opening sally in the epic ‘Plague of Frogs’ (by Mignola, Davis, Stewart & Robins) storyline as the supernatural riot squad faces off against some of their oldest enemies, allowing the author to tie up a number of loose ends and plot threads which encompass the entire publishing history of Hellboy

The challengers of the extremely unknown are called in when a spore monster escapes from a B.P.R.D. storage facility and Abe, Liz, Johann, Roger and Kate Corrigan have their work cut out trying to stop the granddaddy of all elder gods from turning Earth into a charnel pit and breeding ground for giant frog demons.

Amongst all that mood, mystery, carnage and catastrophe Mignola and the unbelievably underrated and unique Guy Davis even manage to give us an origin of sorts for Abe Sapien in such a way as to tell everything and still leave us all none the wiser…

To Be Continued…

Rounding out this astoundingly absorbing tome is a portentous Afterword by Mignola, who also contribute extensively to the trio of Sketchbook Sections for Hollow Earth (mostly Sook), Soul of Venice by Avon Oeming, Davis, Kolins, Pollina and Cameron Stewart and finally Plague of Frogs by Davis. Also included are a gallery of covers, character recaps and other eerie art treats.

With the tides of TV fashion once again shifting towards the fantastic, this bunch must be the first choice option for every production company out there. Until then why not get ahead of the rush by reading these truly magical tales?
© 2003, 2004, 2005, 2014 Mike Mignola. All rights reserved. B.P.R.D., all key and prominently featured characters ™ Mike Mignola.

Hellboy in Hell: The Descent


By Mike Mignola with Dave Stewart (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-61655-444-6

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

After decades of unfailing, faithful service he became mortally tired and resigned. Itinerantly roaming the world, he still managed to encounter weird happenstances but could never escape trouble or his sense of duty.

After discovering he was the last in a line descended from Arthur Pendragon and Morgana le Fay – and therefore the Rightful King of England – he moved to the old country and died fighting a dragon…

After launching in 1993 Hellboy was swiftly attributed the status of ‘legend’ in the comics world, starting as the particular vision of a single creator and, by judicious selection of assistants and deputies, cementing a solid hold on the character in the hearts of the public.

And that’s just how it worked for Superman, Batman and Spider-Man

Since the initial run of tales many creators have contributed to the arcane canon but at the end of 2012 Mignola assumed complete creative control once more for an ongoing – if irregularly – released series entitled Hellboy in Hell.

This initial compilation of those superb comics yarns gathers the first four-issue story arc and the beguiling notional one-shot The Three Gold Whips, which followed it.

The final fall from grace begins with ‘The Baba Yaga’ as the regal hero plunges into The Pit, willingly followed by an enigmatic robed figure. As the shade tells the ever-watching witch queen Baba Yaga, he believes he still has a chance to rescue and redeem the hell-bound hero…

Falling through a region of unspeakable horror and colossal monsters, Hellboy is saved from imminent consumption by the cloaked shade who reveals that he has stores of great mystic power and an intimate knowledge of the Nether Realms. He is even effective against furious Eligos, an old enemy of the B.R.P.D. agent who has been waiting a long time to take revenge for his earthly defeat at Hellboy’s mismatched hands…

The underworld is filled with appalling perils, dark wonders and unfolding vignettes or playlets where sinners endlessly relive the turning points of their lives, but it also holds the answers to the many mysteries of the dead hero’s life. Here a ghost warns him that he will be “haunted by three spirits”…

The journey continues in ‘Pandemonium’ as Hellboy and the shade explore the now abandoned City of Demons, utterly deserted except for the dolorous figure of Satan – Hellboy’s father. They are joined by a devilish guide who provides many answers to the questions that have plagued the hero all his life… when he was alive…

The tempter – his infernal uncle – also offers Hellboy another chance at grasping ultimate power before showing him the tortures being inflicted upon his human witch mother and revealing his own connection and identity in ‘Family Ties’

The truth about Hellboy’s birth, the mighty magic stone right hand he wears and the fate that befell Hell after he was born is told and the lost boy meets his older brothers Gamon and Lusk, who act as brothers always do when told they aren’t the favourite one…

The family squabble escalates and is only ended by an even more terrifying horror…

In the aftermath Hellboy converses with a minor imp who tells him Hell is almost empty. All the grand Dukes and Generals and Princes are dead or gone, leaving a mere blue collar kind of devil in situ. It also reveals that someone has murdered Satan in Pandemonium, sparking a wave of unwelcome memories in Hellboy…

The first travail concludes with ‘Death Riding an Elephant’ as, in the cold and silent abyss, the redemptive revenant returns and at last introduces himself as former Victorian ghostbreaker and psychic detective Sir Edward Grey (the star of another series of Mignola macabre adventures), disclosing a few salient, if unpalatable, facts about Satan’s murder and the truth of his own current unholy situation…

Mignola is a sublime and canny raconteur and seamlessly combines tales where his star is the full focus of the action and alternately little more than a guide or witness to unfolding events. The latter is very much the case with ‘The Three Gold Whips’ which sees Hellboy wandering the deserted byways of the underworld and encountering an unquiet spirit who relates his own tale of a deal with a devil.

Once upon a time Captain Dulot and two soldierly comrades deserted Napoleon’s army and made a pact with a fiend: Seven years of living life like kings plus a whip each that, when cracked, would create a never-ending supply of gold coins. He even gave them an “out”: a means by which they could escape their fate once the seven years were up.

However, when a devil is generous, that’s the time to truly beware…

And so now, ever-helpful Hellboy offers to assist the damned fool…

This superbly absorbing, chilling chronicle also comes with a treasure trove of extras beginning with a graphic faux biography of ‘Walter Edmond Heap’ (a significant figure in the origins of Death Riding an Elphant), an extensive – 19 page – Hellboy Sketchbook section with annotations and commentary by Mignola and a glorious covers-&-variants gallery section.

Hellboy is classic of modern comics creation who has never provided anything but first rate entertainment value for fans. If you’re not one of them yet, this book will certainly change your stubborn mind…
™ & © 2012, 2013, 2014 Mike Mignola.

Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft


By various, edited by Scott Allie (Dark Horse)
ISBN: 978-1-59307-108-0

Scary stories have always been a staple of comics, and anthology collections invariably offer fearsome fun and the biggest Boo for your buck so I’m taking a skittish peek at one that has definitely stood the test of time.

Following a bucolic Introduction by series Editor Scott Allie, this glorious hardback grimoire of ghoulish delights and funny fables opens with an illustrated extract from ‘Macbeth’ (guess witch bit) chillingly adapted by Tony Millionaire, after which comics and movie fans get a treat all their own.

This captivating “Book of…” mystery compilation is part of a series that spun out of Dark Horse Comics’ legendary monster-hit Hellboy, and ‘The Troll Witch’ by Mike Mignola presents a terrific vignette of the hulking demon foundling who visits Norway in 1963 and has a tense conversation with a very peculiar Wise-woman.

Next up is a classic prose short story by Weird Tales horror star Clark Ashton Smith. Illustrated by Gary Gianni, ‘Mother of Toads’ offers the chilling and ghastly feudal tale of a lusty peasant, love philtres and the consequences of cavorting with strange women who live far off the beaten track…

Editor Scott Allie and artists Paul Lee and Brian Horton briefly abandon their Devil’s Footprint series to recount the chilling choice of ‘The Flower Girl’ who, pushed to the limits by her diabolically spoiled and obnoxious little sister, is offered a vile solution by a neighbour with very dark secrets of her own…

Set in Louisiana in 1838 ‘The Gris-Gris’, by Jim & Ruth Keegan, blends the rich dark earth of voodoo with the theme of witchcraft as a cowardly Southern Gentleman picks the wrong crone to trifle with when trying to cheat his way out of a duel of honour, after which 1938 Mississippi hosts the ‘Golden Calf Blues’, by Mark Ricketts & Sean Phillips, exploring the power of an accursed guitar and the Devil’s Music to seduce the supposedly righteous…

‘The Truth About Witchcraft’ is an extended and fascinating interview with attorney, advocate and Wiccan High Priestess Phyllis Curott, after which the comics wonderment resumes with a stunning tale from the height of the infamous “Witch Trials” in ‘Salem and Mary Sibley’ by Scott Morse, before everything ends in an engaging and hilarious romp wherein the neighbourhood mutts and a deeply confused cat join forces to thwart the Forces of Darkness and the local coven of Crones in ‘Unfamiliar’, scripted by Evan Dorkin and magnificently rendered by Jill Thompson.

As anthologies go, horror and mystery are never out of style and collections like this serve as the ideal vehicle for pulling resistant readers into our world of comics. When they can be this diverse whilst maintaining such a staggering level of craft, variety and quality, they should be mandatory for any proselytizing fan, and hold pride of place on any aficionado’s bookshelf
Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft ™ and © 2004 Dark Horse Comics, Inc. All Rights Reserved. All interior stories and features © their respective copyright holders.

Hellboy Junior


By Mike Mignola, Bill Wray, Stephen DeStefano, Dave Cooper, Hilary Barta, Pat McEown, Glenn Barr, Kevin Nowlan, Dave Stewart & John Costanza (Dark Horse)
ISBN: 978-1569719886

Although probably best known for revitalising the sub-genre of horror-heroes via his superb Hellboy and B.P.R.D. tales, creator Mike Mignola conceals a dark and largely unsuspected secret: he has a very dry, outlandish and wicked sense of humour…

Since 1997, whenever nobody was looking, he and co-conspirator Bill Wray have concocted outrageous, uproarious and vulgarly hilarious spoof tales which might – but probably weren’t – untold yarns of the scarlet scallywag’s formative days in hell before being drawn to earth and reared as a champion of humanity against the Things of the Outer Darkness…

Moreover, they convinced those gullible fools at Dark Horse Comics to publish them, first in the Hellboy Junior Halloween Special and again in an eponymous 2-issue miniseries in 1999 which also included many scurrilous and hilarious spoofs, pastiches and pokes at a host of family-friendly favourites from parental favourite Harvey Comics: beloved icons such as Casper, Wendy the Good Little Witch, Stumbo the Giant, Baby Huey and Hot Stuff, the Little Devil

With most of the material scripted by Wray, this appallingly rude, crude and unmissable compilation bolts all the material together and even springs for an all new feature, but begins with Bill & Mike’s painfully cruel ‘The Creation of Hellboy Jr.: a Short Origin Story’ before tucking into ‘Maggots, Maggots, Everywhere!’, an all-Wray buffet of gastric ghastliness wherein the stone-fisted imp, fed up with his meagre ration of icky bug-babies, goes looking for something better to eat. Perhaps he shouldn’t have taken restaurant advice from that sneaky Adolf Hitler, whose rancid soul Junior should have been tormenting anyway…

After that epic-monster-infested odyssey, Mignola illustrates a mordant and wry adaptation of a German folk tale in ‘The Devil Don’t Smoke’ before Stephen DeStefano outrageously illustrates the agonisingly hilarious ‘Huge Retarded Duck’ and Hilary Barta lends his stylish faux-Wally Wood pastichery to ‘The Ginger Beef Boy’, wherein a frustrated transvestite creates the son he yearned for from the ingredients of a Chinese meal…

Following a stunning pin-up by Kevin Nowlan, Dave Cooper draws ‘Hellboy Jr.’s Magical Mushroom Trip’ wherein the ever-hungry imp and his pet ant disastrously attempt to grow their own edible fungus only to end up in deep shiitake when their psychotropic crop brings them into conflict with the big boss. Fans of evil dictators might welcome the guest appearance by Idi Amin

Implausibly based on a true story, Wray & Mignolas’s ‘Squid of Man’ details the Grim Reaper’s wager with a mad scientist endeavouring to birth a new Atlantean race from the freshly dead remnants of cephalopods, arthropods, crustaceans, fine twine and lightning, whilst ‘The Wolvertons’ details the life and loves of an Alaskan lumberjack, his multi-tentacular alien wife and their extraordinarily hybrid kids Brad and Tiffany. Wray and Pat McEown spared no effort in their passionate tribute to Basil Wolverton, cartoon king of the Grotesque, so read this story before eating…

Back in Hell, Jr. regretfully experienced ‘The House of Candy Pain’ (Wray, Barta, John Costanza & Dave Stewart), when he and fellow imp Donnie fled to Storyland and the Forbidden Forest of Festible Dwellings. They should have stuck with the shack made from steaks or Tofu Terrace, but no, they had to enter the Gingerbread House…

Following a Barta bonus pin-up, Wray does it all for the tragic tale of ‘Sparky Bear’; a cub torn from his natural environment and raised by humans as a fire-prevention spokesperson, whilst the Cooper-limned parable of ‘Somnambo the Sleeping Giant’ proves that even if your village is overrun with demons, sometimes the cure is worse than the affliction, an idea echoed in the tale of ‘Wheezy, the Sick Little Witch’ (art by DeStefano) a poorly tyke whose cute li’l animal friends could neither cure nor survive contact with…

After surviving a nasty fast-food experience in ‘Hitler’ and a mock ad for your very own Spear of Destiny, the all-new ‘Hellboy Jr. vs Hitler’ (Wray & Stewart) depicts how a the little devil couldn’t even escort the Fallen Führer to the depths of Lower Hell without screwing up and giving the mono-testicular reprobate another chance to resurrect his Reich and, after a painted Wray Halloween scene and saucy Hell’s hot-tub pin-up from Glenn Barr, the mirthful madness concludes with Mignola & Stewart’s ‘Hellboy Jr. Gets a Car’ wherein the Hadean Half-pint takes an illicit test drive in a roadster meant for a Duke of Hell. It does not end well…

This Chymeric chronicle also includes a ‘Hellboy Junior Sketchbook’ with working drawings, colour roughs and layouts by Wray, McEown & DeStefano, to top off a wildly exuberant burst of tongue-in-cheek, sardonic and surreal adult fun which is a jovially jocund and gut-bustingly gross gas for every lover of off-the-wall, near-the-knuckle fun.
Hellboy Jr. ™ and © Mike Mignola. All individual strips, art & stories © 1997, 1999, 2003 their individual creator or holder. All rights reserved.