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Probably the best known superhero not a part of the DC or Marvel Universes is Hellboy. His droll charisma and relatable weariness won readers over for over two decades. Hellboy resonated with readers because he didn’t let others dictate who he was, he broke the rules, and he saved people without expecting or even wanting thanks with a world-weary shrug. He was born the son of a duke of Hell and a witch, and was summoned to Earth by Nazis. Right off the bat, he had a more storied life than most people will ever have in their whole life. He was raised by a professor of the paranormal, eventually being given “honorary human” status by the United Nations due to his work with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Death hasn’t stopped him, with a ten issue series continuing his adventure through death. His story is currently at an end, with creator Mike Mignola saying the main Hellboy series is done. That doesn’t mean that he won’t still shown up in the Mignola-verse, with series like Hellboy and the B.P.R.D, and B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth. Delving into the early days of the universe. First published in San Diego Comic Con Comics #2 in August 1993 as almost a preview of the character, Hellboy as a series began proper in March 1994, which is where the first Point of Entry begins below.
With a series that only has 67 issues, there’s no better place the start than at the beginning. With the storyline Seed of Destruction, Hellboy finds his missing adopted father and begins to learn his true heritage. One of his most defining traits is his Right Hand of Doom, a large rocky hand and forearm that is indestuctable. During the first storyline, Hellboy finds out that it’s intended use is to unlock the Ogdru Jahad, a group of Lovecraftian creatures locked away in another dimension, from their prison. The plot-thread of the Ogdru Jahad is still going on in the secondary series B.P.R.D. During this Point of Entry, Hellboy shows at many points that he’s never going to do what his birth dictates what he should do. From befriending a homunculus, to thwarting the machinations of his demon uncle. Hellboy strives to be his own man, and as such, towards the end of this timeframe, he leaves the B.P.R.D., looking to be alone and not involved in massive apocalyptic plots any more. Trades to read: Seed of Destruction, Wake the Devil, The Chained Coffin, The Right Hand of Doom, Conqueror Worm
After leaving the B.P.R.D., Hellboy went on a wandering journey to find his origins and in the process gets lost and stranded on an island and accidentally resurrects a mystic who had knowledge of the Ogdru Jahad and his Right Hand of Doom. Honestly, this is my favorite era of Hellboy to read, simply due to the fact that there is a greater variation of types of stories. This Point of Entry is good for showcasing everything Hellboy can be, magical, dark, contemplative, scary, and adventurous. At it’s core, Hellboy has always been about finding one’s way in the world. This is always a lot of different things at different points for people, and Hellboy really captures that during The Strange Wilderness Point of Entry. There’s many one or two issue stories that are collected in the trades from this time, but it ends with a four part leadin to the last Point of Entry. Trades to read: Strange Places, The Troll Witch, The Crooked Man, Darkness Calls.
After wandering the planet and attempting to find out everything about himself, Hellboy makes his way to England and is invited to a hunt of giants. During the hunt, his companions turn on him for, seemingly, being a prince of hell, but Hellboy soon learns that he’s the last living descendant of King Arthur. This makes him the rightful wielder of Excalibur and leader of an undead army of British nobles. During The Wild Hunt, Hellboy is fighting against a powerful witch named Nimue, eventually forcing him to pull Excalbur, and claiming his place as King of England. Hellboy is forced to finally battle Nimue in The Storm and The Fury storyline, ending both their lives. Hellboy wakes up in Hell, and the events of Hellboy in Hell begin. In the end, Hellboy defied his birthright from both his human and demon sides, becoming victorious in his own way. No one asked him to be better than he was expected to be, but Hellboy never quit and he never gave in, and at the end of the day, there’s not a lot of people that can say the same for themselves. We should all be a bit more like Hellboy. Trades to read: The Wild Hunt, The Bride of Hell, The Storm and the Fury, The Descent, The Death Card (the last two are from the series Hellboy in Hell)