The Hellish History of Hellboy

Image result for hellboy movie poster david harbourIn 1991, comic book writer and artist Mike Mignola created a concept drawing of a demonic creature, that he called Hellboy, for a pamphlet for the Great Salt Lake Comic-Con. Although it bore little resemblance to the current incarnation that many fans now know and love, nevertheless it was the beginning of one of the most unique and distinctive looking comic book superheroes in the last 30 years.

Then his first full-color appearance was on the cover of “Dime Press” #4, an Italian Fanzine, in March 1993. Finally in August of 1993, Mignola published a short black-and-white comic book story for Dark Horse Comics in “San Diego Comic-Con Comics” #2, featuring the character as a paranormal detective, along with his characteristic red skin, in “John Byrne’s Next Men” #21.

Hellboy’s first story arc was the mini-series “Seed of Destruction” in March 1994, which featured his origin story and the first appearance of the B.P.R.D. (the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense), along with characters Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman, which was conceived of and illustrated by Mike Mignola and scripted by John Byrne. Supposedly Hellboy was primarily based on Mignola’s father, a gruff, working-class man, who always came home with many injuries, but just shrugged them off with his dry humor.

In 1944, the original founders of the bureau began with three members of the British Paranormal Society, a group of highly educated paranormal investigators including Professor Trevor Bruttenholm and a special unit of the United States army, infiltrated a small island off the Scottish coast known as Tarmagant Island, interrupting the Nazis “Project Ragnarok.” As part of that experiment, the evil sorcerer Grigori Rasputin opened a portal and inadvertently summoned a baby demon, later to be found by Prof. Broom, who named him “Hellboy” and officially adopted him in 1946.

Hellboy’s true name is Anung Un Rama, which means “upon his brow is set a crown of flame,” he has cloven hooves and his right hand, known as the “Right Hand of Doom,” is made of stone that was given to him by his father, the demon Azzael. Originally supposed to bring about the end of the world and the Ogdru Jahad.

Featuring Mignola’s simplistic, yet hauntingly surreal-style, Hellboy became a long-running series which lasted until 2011, when Hellboy supposedly died at the end of “Hellboy: The Fury.” With that, the story of Hellboy seemed to have come to an end until in 2016, Mignola released the 10-issue mini-series “Hellboy in Hell,” in which Hellboy wandered through the afterlife, having adventures and fighting demons, but also coming to terms with the end and to let go of his old life.

Hellboy would go on to appear in many mini-series, one-shots and crossovers, as well as returning to the B.P.R.D. comic books in the 1950’s retro-series. Since his appearance the character has appeared in two live-action movies starring Ron Perlman, two animated movies and three video games, as well as a new upcoming reboot in 2019 starring David Harbour from the “Stranger Things” Netflix series.

Comic Review – Stranger Things #1

Image result for stranger things #1 comicFans of the NETFLIX original series “Stranger Things” get a new insight into the experience of the character of Will Byers, who was mysteriously transported into the Upside Down by the demonic creature, which would be known as ‘the Demogorgon.’ The latest 4-issue limited series from Dark Horse Comics is written by award-winning comics veteran Jody Houser (Valiant Comics’ “Faith”), with pencils by Italian artist, Stefano Martino, inks by Keith Champagne (IDW’s “Ghostbusters”) and colors by Lauren Affe ( “Buzz Kill” Image).

The comic series picks up right after the first 10 minutes of the first episode “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers.” Although throughout the first season of the show we merely get glimpses of Will’s time in the alternate-version of his world, which is similar in almost every way, except for the ever-present darkness and the rotten, poisonous atmosphere. As he realizes that he is no longer home, his journey is compared to his adventures with his friends in their Dungeons & Dragons campaign, in which he plays the wizard, Will the Wise, as he wanders the dark forest of “Mirkwood.” But just as in his D&D adventures, the party of adventurers have been separated, and as he knows, splitting the party can have disastrous consequences!

Although the first issue is somewhat shorter than expected, at only 20-pages, it does add much more to the story of Will’s dilemma in the Upside Down, as the show focuses mainly on the powerful, young girl Eleven, with whom he encounters briefly. But the first issue ends on a heart-pounding cliffhanger, as Will tries to seek the safety in the alternate version of his bedroom, while the terrifying ‘Demogorgon’ is stalking him! I’m looking forward to this limited series, which is a must for any “Stranger Things” fan, as well as a good jumping off point for new fans too. The series also comes in a standard cover and three variant covers, including a photo cover that features scenes from the show, as well as some very surreal art covers by various talent. The first issue also includes a two-page preview of the new “Mystery Science Theater 300 the Comic.”