Hellboy– you’d think the name would say it all. I had visions of devils dancing on shoulders with impish glee. The solid, heavily shadowed figure on the cover of Mike Mignola’s classic, however, should’ve clued me in– Hellboy is far from an imp. In fact, he talks more like an ex-G.I. 1940s-era private detective than anything else, with the deadpan humor and bulky presence to match. He may indeed be a devil from hell– no one’s really sure, not even him. Having emerged fromÞsomewhereÞinto the company of members of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense during the prevention of an evil Nazi scheme dubbed Ragnarok, Hellboy was immediately taken under the wing, and into the heart, of paranormal whiz kid Trevor Bruttenholm. The big bright red guy grew to become their top investigator, and in the company of firestarter Liz Sherman and aquatic gentleman Abe Sapien, he fights the paranormal baddies with the best of them. Then his origins, or lack thereof, come back to haunt him, bringing with them murderous frogmen (yes, frogmen) and a vicious enemy no one predicted. Suddenly it’s seeming like the end of the world wasn’t so much prevented as delayed. Mike Mignola’s artwork is the true star of Hellboy, drawing noir influences into rich colors and a linear style very much his own and seeming to invoke Orson Welles’ ghost for editing in the panel jumps. The horror aspect is understated but potent while the action has a Raiders of the Lost Ark feel to it, minus too much cheese.
Hellboy, vol. 1: Seed of Destruction
by Mike Mignola and John Byrne
Art by Mike Mignola, Mark Chiarello, and Matt Hollingsworth
Dark Horse Comics 2003 (third edition)