Suggested Reading: Hellboy II: The Golden Army - Hell's Angel
by Roman Chavez
July 5, 2008
Born of fire, a boy falls to Earth. His right hand large and stone-like. Anung un Rama. It is said that his arrival signals the end of the world. Well… not on his watch! Hellboy is a great character to read about accompanied by an amazing cast of teammates at the B.P.R.D (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense). He looks like a big red ape, smokes cigars, has a huge stone hand and wields a big ass gun called the Samaritan made from melted down church bells and fragments of the True Cross. Hellboy just rocks!
The other day when I was talking to friends about my excitement for his upcoming film, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, I found that, much to my surprise, not that many are looking forward to it. Even more surprising, most had never even seen the first film. I thought about it and as I pondered, I realized it may not be as crazy as I think. Speaking with my fiancé, she said she was real excited when she first saw the beginning of the trailer because Guillermo del Toro was directing it (she loves Pan's Labyrinth), but said when she saw Hellboy she was like "Oh, it's another Hellboy movie?" She was actually less excited once Hellboy was on screen. Guillermo del Toro is a great director, the source material is very interesting, and Ron Perlman is the best character and make up actor in the biz. As a comic book fanboy, I feel it is my duty to point you in the right direction for Hellboy, at least to get you ready for this movie.
What's so great about the Hellboy comic books is that there is literally nothing else out there like them. It's a great change of pace from highflying superhero stories. There are not a lot of supernatural, paranormal comic books out there and none are done quite like these. You have the world destroyer (Hellboy) leading this misfit team of equally tragic characters, all freaks in one way or another, trying to do good for mankind knowing that they are feared and sometimes hated.
In the comics, Hellboy's team consist of Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, Johann Krauss, Captain Ben Daimino, and Roger the Homunculus. In this film we only see Hellboy, Abe, Liz and Johann. Each character brings in their own personality and special abilities that makes up a great base for a story. It's big monsters, big heroes and even bigger action. As far as the comic book to movie translation, it's pretty dead-on when it comes to the characters. The stories in the films, on the other hand, are an amalgam of great parts from existing stories with new stuff co-written by both creator Mike Mignola and director Guillermo del Toro. I like that technique, because I get a refresher about Hellboy and his crew, but also get to see something that I haven't read before - it's a great way to keep things fresh.
Since the films contain new stories, I can't recommend comics that directly pertain to them. I can, however, suggest some cool stories to help you get familiar with the characters and the world that they live in. Enjoy!
Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
Written and Illustrated by Mike Mignola
This is the very first story with Hellboy and the B.P.R.D working together on a case. It is obvious that this is not their first time on a mission. This story gives us a big piece of Hellboy's origin. A lot of the first Hellboy film is based on this tale. I like the story, but it feels a bit crude in the way that it's told. It is definitely a writing style that takes some getting used to. Seed of Destruction sets the tone for this style of paranormal B-movie monsters that can look a bit goofy, but really hold a story well. Buy from Amazon.com.
Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom
Written and Illustrated by Mike Mignola
After about four or five years of Hellboy, people started to wonder about his right hand. Sure it's made of stone and feels no pain, but why does he have it? This story only gives us a taste of what it is for, just to let us know that is has some significance, but to still leave us wondering. A man who fears Hellboy burns all of his research about him before his death. His son, a priest, contacts Hellboy when he finds a piece of paper in his bible that reads, "Behold the right hand of doom." The priest then quotes Pope Sylvester II, 999 A.D.: "And I looked down into the end of the world and saw the beast, and in his right hand was the key to the bottomless pit." Cool story, cool quotes, and a little more insight into the character. Buy from Amazon.com.
B.P.R.D.: Hollow Earth and Other Stories
Written by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Tom Sniegoski, Illustrated by Ryan Sook
This story is one of my favorite B.P.R.D. stories. At this point, Hellboy and Liz have left the bureau and Abe is losing trust in the company and considering leaving. The mystic Johann Krauss makes his first appearance in this issue. It's a fun read because we see the bureau on the verge of collapse, but Abe must rally the team to save a friend. We also get a few cool flashback stories about Hellboy's first meetings with Liz and Abe. You feel the absence of Hellboy's leadership, but get to see a glimpse of Abe in the lead position. Buy from TFAW.com.
Batman Hellboy Starman
Written by James Robinson, Illustrated by Mike Mignola
I've already mentioned a few stories that can help you understand some of the Hellboy mythology, so as an added bonus, I'm going to recommend one more interesting comic. It happens to star two of this summer's big superhero characters. This really isn't a dream collaboration or anything like that, but I thought it was cool to suggest this since both films come out a week from each other. It has Batman, the Joker, Hellboy, Starman, and some Nazis. What's not to like. It is mostly a Hellboy story with Batman in it here and there. Check it out for fun. Buy from Amazon.com.
Be sure to check out Hellboy and his crew in their second big screen adventure on July 11th. I know there are many more Hellboy treats out there, so if you know of anything good, be sure to comment and let people know what else you like. So long from Roman's Land and we'll see you at the movies.