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.