Title: Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1
Story-Arc: Seed of Destruction
Writer(s): Mike Mignola & John Byrne
Illustrator(s): Mike Mignola
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Format: Paperback – Omnibus
Release Date: June 5th 2018
Genre(s): Comics, Horror, Fantasy
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
It’s a bit hard to not have heard of this giant red ape-like creature. His presence alone invades the atmosphere and his charisma steals the show. And to turn him into the world’s greatest paranormal investigator too? He’s easily a character that has left a huge mark in our pop culture and is here to stay. Although a bit underrated, Hellboy has his fair share of lore to share with us and it is one that will please a lot of horror and mystic fans. His now completed comic book has given birth to a couple of spin-offs and is now being released in this perfectly-ideal omnibus editions to collect Mike Mignola’s award-winning stories in a chronological order perfect for readers. This first volume collects Seed of Destruction (Volume 1), Wake the Devil (Volume 2), and the stories “Wolves of St. August”, “The Chained Coffin” and “Almost Colossus” from The Chained Coffin (Volume 3).
How exactly does Hellboy‘s saga begin? In this first omnibus the story begins by throwing readers back during the World War II era where a special Nazi team led by Rasputin conduct a strange summoning that ultimately leads to the birth of a baby Hellboy in a church in Britain. While the Nazis believe their plans have failed, Rasputin claims that he has initiated the end of the world. For almost half a century, this demon-child who was taken in by Professor Bruttenholm, grows to be an agent of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.) in New York. Tagged along with Liz Sherman (a woman with pyrokinetic abilities) and Abe Sapien (an amphibious man), this team investigate strange happenings and uncover the truth behind them while discovering themselves and their place in the world.
The lore and the characters are where all the praise should be redirected to. With an underlying touch of Lovecraftian mythology, this story draws upon the mystical world to recreate its own air of horror and mystery. With various references to iconic mythologies and characters, Mike Mignola sets up his world in a basin of strange and ugly creatures that constantly harass Hellboy in his unrestrained and untroubled behaviour. Its especially the style and manner that each threat is approached that poignantly mesmerizes you. While it isn’t exactly an easy-to-dive-in series, it does rapidly capture your heart with all the charming and short dialogues, as well as the brutal and fun action sequences by Hellboy. As fascinating as it is to learn about the Ogdru Jahad, frog-monsters and vampires, it is how Hellboy will deal with them that makes this so fun.
It is worth mentioning that the artwork is not something that will please everyone. The style is perfect for Hellboy and grows on you, to the point where it quickly becomes easy for reader to associate it to this series. It is really heavy on shadows and on rough character designs, and rarely focuses on emotions and details. The creepy and edgy designs help in fact to convey the eerie and creepy mood that emanates from many of the settings featured in this story. The transitions aren’t smooth either, and is axed more of frames of key moments in order to let readers imagine the sequence and fill the gap with their own touch of creativity. But with dialogues that are so poetic and that often sound like satanic incantations, as well as snappy one-liners, readers aren’t ever really left to their own.
If there’s one thing that I’m happy about, it is the fact that the main series is complete and that they are now being recollected into these omnibuses. If I had read the first volume alone (Seed of Destruction), I would have heavily questioned its reputation since it is far from enough to understand why Hellboy is such an iconic character. In this omnibus, it is much easier for fans to appreciate every characters development and the overall world-building that is set up.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
Hellboy (2004) was directed by Guillermo del Terro and loosely adapted Hellboy: Seed of Destruction with Ron Perlman as Hellboy! A reboot is on the way (2019) with David Harbour taking on the role of Hellboy, and Neil Marshall directing the movie!