In case you haven’t heard (or forgot), there’s a new “Hellboy” hitting theaters this weekend. It’s a whole new take on Mike Mignola’s creations as this time “Game Of Thrones” director Neil Marshall takes over the directing duties and actor David Harbour (“Stranger Things”) becomes the latest incarnation of the big red monster from hell.
The all-new, all-different “Hellboy” is, of course, the third big-screen appearance for the big red guy, an impressive feat for a character not published by Marvel and DC. Personally, I would have loved for Guillermo del Toro to finish his story, but I’m still looking forward to the new flick. With the new movie nearly upon us, and because the marketing campaign has been somewhat lackluster, I think this is the perfect time to take a look at some underrated comics starring Hellboy.
One last thing you should know: the comics listed below are by no means necessary to enjoy “Hellboy” on the big screen. Nor are they listed in any particular order. These are just good comic stories you might enjoy before or after seeing the gates of hell take over London this weekend. Got it? good, and away we go:
5. Hellboy: Conqueror Worm (2001)
In this 2001 mini-series, Hellboy and his team from the Bureau Of Paranormal Research And Defence (B.P.R.D.) head to an Austrian castle to prevent a Nazi scientist and his cybernetically enhanced gorillas (seriously) from reviving a Nazi space programme designed to summon a monstrous being from outer space.
This story was written and drawn by Mike Mignola is cool for a number of reasons, one of which is the fact that the Nazi scientist’s head is kept in a jar. Conqueror Worm is also important because, at the end of the series, Hellboy quits working for the Bureau and decides to travel around the planet.
More than likely, we’ll never see this story in a live action movie because of how expensive it would be to film it. But this series would make an awesome animated film. Plus Conquering Work introduced one of Hellboy’s most iconic supporting characters: The Lobster (AKA Lobster Johnson).
4. Hellboy: The Chained Coffin (1995)
This 1995 one-shot, sees Hellboy return to his East Bromwich birthplace to have a psychic vision of his true origin. However, doing this reveals more about his origins than either Hellboy or us as readers were expecting. The Chained Coffin is also the story of Hellboy’s mother, Sarah Hughes. She was a seventeenth-century English witch who had deathbed repentance. The titular coffin is where her dead body was chained inside the East Bromwich chapel, guarded to save her soul by a priest and a nun for three nights.
The Chained Coffin is an interesting chapter for Hellboy, and it’s cool to see how he played into the mythic history of England and witchcraft, which sounds similar to the new movie. Whether the new film adapts this comic, remains to be seen though.
3. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt (2006)
In this series by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo, Hellboy joins the legendary wild hunt to kill the giants that periodically rise from their graves to wreak havoc on the English countryside. I may be wrong, but this is something that might be popping up the new movie as well.
Oh yeah, Wild Hunt also features a demon slaughtering a whole village and Gruagach uses the blood to resurrect Nimue. The Wild Hunt is also the story that reunites Hellboy and Alice and sees them traveling in fairy realms. As you can see, the Wild Hunt is a packed mini-series and one that is worth tracking down. Or get the trade, either way, works.
2. Savage Dragon #34 (1996)
Now we get to Savage Dragon #34, the issue that introduced me to Hellboy. Yup, before I ever read a Hellboy title, it was Savage Dragon #34 by Erik Larsen that first brought him to my attention. This might be one of Hellboy’s strangest appearances, but it remains one of my favorites too.
In this issue, Brainiape, who is revealed to be Adolph Hitler’s brain preserved within the body of a gorilla, (you can’t make this stuff up) is sent on a mission to kill the Dragon by Cyberface, the defacto leader of the Vicious Circle. Cyberface is decomposing, so to save him, Abner Cadaver summons the creatures of the undead, who attack the world-renowned paranormal investigator Hellboy.
1. Batman/Hellboy/Starman (1999)
In one of the most unorthodox crossovers you’ll ever read, DC’s Dark Knight meets Mike Mignola’s Hellboy! Things start when Ted Knight comes to Gotham City to lecture at a conference on alternative energies sponsored by Wayne Industries. But when Knight is kidnapped by a group of magic-wielding Nazis called the Knights of October, Hellboy offers his aid to Batman to help find Ted and thwart.
Eventually, the heroes learn that the Knights of October plan to marshal the Golden Age Starman’s knowledge for their own nefarious purposes. As the heroes track the kidnappers–and their victim–to the Amazon jungle, they’ll need some additional help: from Ted Knight’s son Jack, Starman.
This series was a lot of fun. My only complaint at the time was that at two issues it was too damn short. I wanted to see these heroes team up for at least four issues or more, but it wasn’t meant to be. Twenty years later, Batman/Hellboy/Starman is worth checking out and adding to your Hellboy collection.