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Hellboy is a comic book character created by writer-artist Mike Mignola. He has appeared in a number of eponymous miniseries and one-shots, as well as some crossover.

The character is a demon who fights for the BPRD, an international non-governmental agency, and himself against dark forces including Nazis and Baba Yaga, in a series of tales that have their roots in folklore, pulp magazines, vintage adventure, and horror fiction.

The comics were adapted into a 2004 film starring Ron Perlman, a 2008 film sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and two straight-to-DVD animated films, Hellboy: Sword of Storms and Hellboy: Blood and Iron.

The Hellboy fictional universe

A demon whose true name is Anung Un Rama (the Beast of the Apocalypse), Hellboy was brought to Earth as an infant by Nazi occultists. He was discovered by the Allied Forces; amongst them, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, who formed the United States Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD). In time Hellboy grew to be a large, red-skinned demon with a tail, horns (which he files off, leaving behind the signature circular stumps on his forehead, to make his appearance more "normal"), and an oversized right hand made of stone. He has been described as smelling of dry-roasted peanuts. Although a bit gruff, he shows none of the malevolence thought to be intrinsic to demons, and works with other strange creatures in the BPRD. This is said to be because of his upbringing under Professor Bruttenholm, who raised him as a normal boy and taught him how to behave normally. This is a reference to the nature versus nurture debate. Hellboy has been dubbed the "World's Greatest Paranormal Investigator".


Hellboy is a creature summoned, in the final months of World War II by Grigori Rasputin on Tarmagant Island, off the coast of Scotland, having been commissioned by the Nazis to change the tide of war ("Project Ragna Rok"). He appears in a fireball in a ruined church in East Bromwich, England, on December 23, 1944. Proving not to be a devil, in the traditional sense, but a devil-like creature with red skin, horns, a tail, and an abnormally disproportionate right hand made of red stone, he is dubbed "Hellboy" by Professor Trevor "Broom" Bruttenholm.

Taken by the United States armed forces to an Air Force base in New Mexicomarker, Hellboy is raised by the United States Army and by the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), a federal agency dedicated to combating occult threats.

As an adult, Hellboy becomes the primary agent for the BPRD, alongside other human and quasi-human agents that include Kate Corrigan, a professor of folklore at New York Universitymarker; Abe Sapien, an amphibian humanoid (Ichthyo sapien); Liz Sherman, a young pyrokinetic; Roger, an unusually large homunculus; Johann Krauss, the spirit of a medium kept in a containment suit; and Captain Ben Daimio, a special operations man with occult experiences, the latter two of which have not met Hellboy due to Hellboy's resignation from the Bureau.

During a visit to Bromwich Church (the place of his "birth"), Hellboy learns he had been conceived 300 years ago by a witch, Catherine Tanner-Tremaine, and a demon Prince of Sheol. At this time, Hellboy had not existed as a baby in the "real" world; the prince's "favorite son" was considered to be "a power waiting to be born." Hellboy's "mother" also had children: a nun and a priest who would later haunt the church, dying in an attempt to stop the demon from claiming Tanner-Tremaine on her coffin.

A later, but possibly unreliable account gives the name of the demon as Azzael, and of the witch as Sarah Hughes. The spirit of Morgana le Fay claims that Hughes was her descendant; if this is true, it means that Hellboy is the last living heir to Arthur Pendragon and the rightful king of England. Hellboy has since drawn the sword Excalibur, claiming his position, albeit without much conviction.

Hellboy was granted "honorary human" status by the United Nations in 1952, and is known as the "world's greatest paranormal investigator". As such, he interacts regularly with humans, primarily law enforcement officials, the military, and various "scholars of the weird", most of whom are not presented as overtly reacting to his strange appearance. This differs from the film adaptations, which depict Hellboy as living at the BPRD with a dozen cats and limited access to the outside world, and considered simply an urban legend by the general populace, until he reveals himself to the world in the second film.

Much like other comic book superheroes such as Batman, Wolverine, Daredevil, and Spawn, Hellboy is constantly tormented by the knowledge of his past. In one issue, he says of his past, "I like not knowing. I've gotten by for fifty-two years without knowing. I sleep good not knowing."

Powers and abilities

Among Hellboy's more obvious powers are superhuman strength and resistance to physical injury. Hellboy has been shown to tear down a large tree and hurl it as a weapon, as well as cars, and toss opponents weighing several hundred pounds many yards away with one hand. He can withstand powerful blows that would severely injure or kill a human, such as being repeatedly struck by a superhumanly strong opponent, with little or no discomfort. In one scene in the first film, part of a subway wall collapses on top of him, and he quickly gets up and continues fighting despite having numerous shards of broken glass embedded in his back. Nonetheless, he is far from invulnerable, and can be injured by conventional weapons.

The films make much of the idea that Hellboy is fireproof, though one scene in the first movie shows him burning his fingers by touching his friction-heated horn stumps after being run over by a subway train. However, in the comics he is not actually fireproof. Hellboy can be burned and damaged like any living thing but he possesses an accelerated healing factor (similarly to X-Men character Wolverine) that rapidly heals his body, repairing damaged tissues and quickly regenerating blood cells. In "The Lost Army", he rapidly heals from being shot many times in the chest with an MG-42 machine gun before destroying the gun. He has also withstood being impaled through the chest with a sword, healing completely within a matter of minutes.

Hellboy also ages differently from humans. In the story Pancakes he is two years old but appears to be far older. In Nature of the Beast, set in 1954, the ten-year-old Hellboy appears fully grown. His rapid apparent maturation is in contrast to his actual rate of aging, which seems to be much slower than humans. Throughout the sixty-year span of the comics, he has not aged beyond the point at which he reached physical maturity. The films state that Hellboy is sixty years old by human account, but is "barely out of his twenties" by demon standards. He has also shown an innate skill at translating and interpreting ancient and magical languages.

In addition to his natural physical abilities, Hellboy carries a variety of items in his utility belt that can be used against various supernatural forces. He has been known to carry holy relics, horseshoes, various herbs, and grenade. He commonly carries an oversized revolver, however, Hellboy freely admits to being a lousy shot and prefers to fight hand-to-hand whenever possible.

Right Hand of Doom

Hellboy's right hand, referred to as the "Right Hand of Doom", consists of a large forearm and hand that seems to be made from red stone. The Hand is dexterous enough to catch a fly, but its large size causes Hellboy to prefer his normal-sized left hand to operate weapons and devices. The Hand is effectively invulnerable and feels no pain, serving much like a sledgehammer when used to punch an enemy.

As revealed in the graphic novel collection Strange Places, the Right Hand of Doom was formerly the right hand of one of the "greater spirits" that watched over the burgeoning Earth, and the hand the spirit used to create the dragon Ogdru Jahad. With that same hand, he bound the dragon, but then his fellow spirits turned upon him for his deeds, and destroyed him utterly – save for his right hand, which was kept and preserved by many races throughout history, including the first race of man. As the hand which created and bound the Ogdru Jahad, it is also the key which will "loose and command" them; in other words, it is a catalyst that will bring about Armageddon. The comic books themselves never mention how the Right Hand of Doom would actually perform these tasks; it is only ever announced that this is the case and that someone or something intends to do it with or without Hellboy's consent. The film shows it working like a key; being turned twice in a special obelisk secured by Rasputin would release the Ogdru Jahad. It is made clear that it is not even necessary for the arm to be attached to Hellboy at all, even on its own it would perform its tasks. However, it has been suggested that if Hellboy dies while the Hand is attached to him, it would become useless. He has thus come to the conclusion that the only way to prevent it falling into the wrong hands is to keep and protect it.

Publication history


The first drawing of the character was a black and white illustration in which he wore a belt bearing the name Hellboy. This image appeared in a program for the Great Salt Lake Comic Con in 1991, therefore making the program the first publicly published drawing of Hellboy. A later incarnation of Hellboy appeared on the cover of Dime Press #4 (1993), an obscure Italian fanzine.

Before Hellboy was published independently at Dark Horse Comics, the concept was initially pitched to a board of directors for DC Comics, who loved it but didn't like the idea of it involving "hell."

The early stories were conceived and drawn by Mignola with a script written John Byrne and some later stories have been crafted by creators other than Mignola, including Christopher Golden, Guy Davis, Ryan Sook, and Duncan Fegredo. The increasing commitments from the Hellboy franchise meant that the 2008 one-shot "In the Chapel of Moloch" was the first Hellboy comic Mignola had provided the script and art for since "The Island" in 2005.

San Diego Comic Con Comics

Mike Mignola's Hellboy by Mike Mignola and John Byrne featured the character's debut in a sequential format. It was published by Dark Horse Comics in San Diego Comic-Con Comics issue 2 (August 1993) for distribution at the San Diego Comic-Con fan convention held in San Diegomarker, Californiamarker.

In the story Hellboy travels to an American ghost town where he encounters a mangy mutt that transforms into Anubis, the Ancient Egyptian god of mummification.

The story was collected in the trade paperback Hellboy: Seed of Destruction.

Seed of Destruction

Hellboy: Seed of Destruction (4 issues, March-June 1994) by Mike Mignola and John Byrne was the first comic book mini-series to feature the character Hellboy.

In the story, Hellboy is confronted by Grigori Rasputin and begins to find out what he is doing on Earth and who summoned him there. His purpose will be to command the powers that Rasputin is about to unleash upon the world. Hellboy denies this version of his destiny and refuses to be controlled. Attempting to release the Ogdru Jahad, Rasputin is killed, harpooned through the chest by Abe Sapien under the control of the ghost of Elihu Cavendish.

The trade paperback collection was awarded two Eisner Awards and was, in part, the basis for the first Hellboy motion picture.

Comics Buyer's Guide

Mike Mignola's Hellboy: World's Greatest Paranormal Investigator by Mike Mignola and John Byrne featured the character's next solo-appearance. It was published by Dark Horse Comics in a special four-page mini-comic for distribution in Comics Buyer's Guide issue 1070 (May 20, 1994).

In the story Hellboy battles with the dissembodied head of Nazi scientist Herman Von Klempt and his puppet henchman Brutus the Gorilla to rescue a captive girl from the professor doctor's transference of nutrient fluids process.

The story was collected in the trade paperback Hellboy: Seed of Destruction.

Celebrate Diversity

Hi, My Name is Hellboy by Mike Mignola was a one-page panel ad that related the characters fictional origins. It was published by Diamond Comic Distributors in catalog supplement Celebrate Diversity collector's edition (October 1994). The ad was collected in the trade paperback The Art of Hellboy.

Wake the Devil

Hellboy: Wake the Devil (5 issues, June-October 1996) by Mike Mignola was the second comic book mini-series to feature the character Hellboy.

In the story, Hellboy meets the goddess Hecate. Addressed as "Anung un Rama", he is told that his arrival on Earth signals its end. At the climax of the story, Hellboy is swallowed by Hecate in the form of an iron maiden and some kind of otherworldly conflict ensues, in which he is told that his right hand is a key to open the pit. Again Hellboy refuses, this time breaking off his newly re-grown horns.

Box Full of Evil

Hellboy: Box Full of Evil (2 issues, August-September, 1999) by Mike Mignola, Matthew Dow Smith and Ryan Sook was written to bring a final end to the Beast of the Apocalypse story-arc..

In the story, Igor Bromhead gains power over a demon, Ualac, by using that demon's name. Hellboy is also bound by his name, "Anung Un Rama", and the Crown of the Apocalypse, which he wears but is invisible to him, is taken. In taking the crown, Ualac is changed into a much more powerful demon. Hellboy finds out that "Anung Un Rama" is a literal translation of "...and upon his brow is set a crown of fire..." - and as Ualac has seized the crown, this is no longer who he is. As this is no longer his name, he is no longer bound, and thus able to defeat Ualac. The crown is kept for Hellboy by Astaroth, in Pandemonium, the capital city of Hell; and a seat is reserved for the former in the House of the Fly.


Most of the Hellboy comics have been collected as trade paperback volumes.

Hellboy Trade Paperbacks

  1. Hellboy: Seed of Destruction (art by Mike Mignola, script by John Byrne, October 1994)
  2. Hellboy: Wake the Devil (by Mike Mignola, colors by James Sinclair, separations by Dave Stewart, letters by Pat Brosseau, May 1997)
  3. Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others (by Mike Mignola, colors by Dave Stewart, letters by Pat Brosseau, August 1998)
  4. Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom (by Mike Mignola, colors by Dave Stewart, letters by Pat Brosseau, April 2000)
  5. Hellboy: Conqueror Worm (by Mike Mignola, colors by Dave Stewart, letters by Pat Brosseau, February 2002)
  6. Hellboy: Strange Places (by Mike Mignola, April 2006)
  7. Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others (by Mike Mignola, November 2007)
  8. Hellboy: Darkness Calls (story & cover by Mike Mignola, art by Duncan Fegredo, May 2008)
  9. Hellboy: Wild Hunt (story & cover by Mike Mignola, art by Duncan Fegredo, March 2010)

Oversized editions

  1. Hellboy: Library Edition Volume 1 - Collects Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil.
  2. Hellboy: Library Edition Volume 2 - Collects The Chained Coffin and Others, The Right Hand of Doom.
  3. Hellboy: Library Edition Volume 3 - Collects Conqueror Worm" and "Strange Places".

Other trade paperbacks

In other media

Feature films


Guillermo del Toro co-wrote and directed a film adaptation titled Hellboy in 2004, sharing the credit with the original screenwriter Peter Briggs. Del Toro, a fan of Mike Mignola's work, had previously written the preface to Hellboy: Conqueror Worm.

The film starred Ron Perlman as Hellboy (the favorite of both del Toro and Mignola for the role), Selma Blair as Liz Sherman, Rupert Evans as FBImarker Special Agent John Myers (a character created for the film), John Hurt as Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, Doug Jones as Abe Sapien (voiced by an uncredited David Hyde Pierce), Karel Roden as Grigori Rasputin, and Jeffrey Tambor as FBI Senior Special Agent Tom Manning. The film received generally positive reviews, and a fair performance at the box office. However, the film debuted in theaters while The Passion of the Christ was still playing, and, according to del Toro's DVD commentary, some theaters would re-title the film on their signs, or outright refuse to play it to avoid running a "devil" movie against Passion.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

A sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, was shot in Budapest by del Toro, and features the returning talents of Perlman and Blair. Jones also returned not only in the role as Abe Sapien (undubbed this time), but in two other roles: The Angel of Death and The Chamberlain. Revolution Studios had planned on making the film (which Columbia Pictures was to distribute), but the studio went out of business before filming. Universal Pictures then picked it up. The plot is a shift to more folklore rather than action, with heavy European overtones. The character of Johann Krauss was added to the team, voiced by Seth MacFarlane. The character Roger the Homunculus was not, but he was written into the plot as a very prominent character in early drafts of the script. (Roger can be seen as a lifeless statue in the background BPRD hallway shot in both the first & second films.) The character of Agent Myers from the first film does not return, his absence being explained by Liz remarking that Hellboy had him transferred to Antarcticamarker out of jealousy. On November 11, 2008, Hellboy II: The Golden Army was released on DVD.

Hellboy 3

A third movie is in the conception stages, set to focus on the combat between Hellboy and a brainwashed Archangel that had been held captive by Nazis since World War II. There will also be the return of Rasputin and Kroenen, and the debut of Roderick Zinco. New B.P.R.D Agents include Lobster Johnson and possibly Roger the Homunculus. The prophecy of Hellboy becoming the Beast of the Apocalypse will be fulfilled, and additionally, Hellboy will have to learn to be a father to twins. Del Toro's commitments to the Hobbit films will delay any potential involvement in the project .

Animated films

On November 9, 2005, IDT Entertainment issued a press release announcing that the company had licensed the rights to develop "animated content for television and home entertainment" based on the Hellboy comic. Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Selma Blair (Liz Sherman), Doug Jones (Abe Sapien), and John Hurt (Professor Trevor 'Broom' Bruttenholm) have all voiced their respective characters. Actress Peri Gilpin joined the cast as Professor Kate Corrigan.

The first two 75-minute animated movies, Sword of Storms and Blood and Iron, were aired on the Cartoon Network before being released on DVD. The first one aired October 28, 2006, and the second aired March 17, 2007.

Both stories have much more in common with the comic-book Hellboy rather than the film - Abe Sapien is not psychic, for example, Hellboy and Liz are just friends, and the artwork and color palette is derived very closely from Mignola's original artwork. The DVD of Sword of Storms was released on February 6, 2007; it contains documentary material commentary and a Hellboy comic, Phantom Limbs.

After the intitial release some stores included exclusive giveaways with copies of Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron DVD: A "Hellboy 2 Pak" limited edition DVD set was released July 1, 2008 that contained both films and a 7" figure.

A third animated Hellboy film, The Phantom Claw, has been put on hold. Tad Stones, director and writer of the DTV movies, says the film will star Lobster Johnson and will have some familiar characters, but Abe and Liz will not be in the film (at least not as main characters).

Novels and anthologies

Christopher Golden has written several novels about the character, the first two of which, The Lost Army and The Bones of Giants, are part of the official Hellboy story canon. The events of both these novels are listed in the comic's official timeline featured in The Hellboy Companion. In particular, the Golden-penned character of Anastasia Bransfield was also described in the Companion, despite having never actually appeared in a comic.

  • Hellboy: The Lost Army (written by Christopher Golden, cover and other illustrations by Mike Mignola, 1997)
  • Hellboy: The Bones of Giants (written by Christopher Golden, cover and other illustrations by Mike Mignola, 2001)
  • Hellboy: On Earth As It Is In Hell (written by Brian Hodge, cover by Mike Mignola, September 2005)
  • Hellboy: Unnatural Selection (written by Tim Lebbon, cover by Mike Mignola, March 2006)
  • Hellboy: The God Machine (written by Thomas E. Sniegoski, cover by Mike Mignola, July 2006)
  • Hellboy: The Dragon Pool (written by Christopher Golden, cover by Mike Mignola, March 2007)
  • Hellboy: Emerald Hell (written by Tom Piccirilli, cover by Mike Mignola, February 2008)
  • Hellboy: The All-Seeing Eye (written by Mark Morris, cover by Mike Mignola, October 2008)
  • Hellboy: The Fire Wolves (written by Tim Lebbon, cover by Mike Mignola, April 2009)
  • Hellboy: The Ice Wolves (written by Mark Chadbourn, cover by Duncan Fegredo, September 2009)

Video games

A Hellboy video game called Hellboy: Dogs of the Night/Hellboy: Asylum Seeker was released for the PC and the PlayStation, by Cryo Interactive/DreamCatcher Interactive Inc. It has no relation to the movie series.

On April 6, 2005, Hellboy movie director Guillermo Del Toro announced on his official site that he had made a deal with developer Konami to create a new Hellboy videogame based on the movie version of the character and his world, featuring new monsters, new villains, and a new storyline. Herman von Klempt and his war ape Kriegaffe #10 are slated to make appearances.

On May 9, 2006, it was revealed that the Hellboy game would appear in summer of 2007, on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PlayStation Portable. The game was released in North America on June 24, 2008 with the name Hellboy: The Science of Evil. It is developed by Krome Studios, and published by Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.. As well as single player campaign where the player gets to play as Hellboy the game also features co-op play, featuring the characters Abe Sapien , Liz Sherman and Lobster Johnson.

A Hellboy video game called Hellboy II: The Golden Army - Tooth Fairy Terror was released for the iPhone by Tuesday Creative on January 14, 2009.

Role-playing game

The Hellboy Sourcebook and Role Playing Game, based on the GURPS role-playing game system, was published by Steve Jackson Games in August 2002.


Hellboy is featured in WizKids' Indy Heroclix line with several different booster packs. He also has his own Heroclix/Horrorclix cross-line collector's set called Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.

Card game

Hellboy was also part of Upper Deck's VS System card game as the first non-Marvel Comics or DC Comics character.

Appearances in popular culture

  • Hellboy appears as a ‘borrowed character’ in author Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula series, specifically in the novella Andy Warhol’s Dracula (2004) where he joins the ranks of Blade, Shaft, Travis Bickle, The Punisher, Paul Kersey, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy in hunting down Johnny Pop; a vampire drug dealer.
  • Hellboy makes a one-panel cameo appearance during a hallucination sequence in Frank Miller's Sin City: Hell and Back.
  • Hellboy made a cameo as a trick or treater in the last page of the Sam & Max story "Belly of the Beast".
  • Hellboy also appears in an issue of Eric Powell's Eisner Award-winning series "The Goon".
  • Hellboy made a one-panel cameo appearance, along with several other borrowed characters in the Shi/Cyblade crossover "The Battle for independents" from Image comics.
  • Hellboy's first appearance was in San Diego Comic Con Comics #2.
  • Hellboy appeared in Madmen issue 5.
  • Abe Sapien, a popular character from Hellboy appears in John Byrne's Babe 2 issue number 2.
  • In Kevin Smith's film Dogma (1999), one of the Stygian Triplets is seen wearing a Hellboy t-shirt.
  • In one of the ending themes for Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, the animation and graphic style is the same one used in the Hellboy comic books.


The miniseries Hellboy: Conqueror Worm won a 2002 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series, while The Art of Hellboy won an Eisner in 2004 for Best Comics-Related Book. Mignola won a 2000 Harvey Award for Best Artist based on Hellboy: Box Full of Evil. Hellboy: Darkness Calls won a 2007 Eagle Award for "Favourite Colour Comicbook — American".

The character Hellboy was nominated for "Favourite Comics Character" at the 2004 and 2005 Eagle Awards. Other nominations include
  • Nominated for "Favourite Comics Story published during 2007" Eagle Award, for Hellboy: Darkness Calls
  • Nominated for "Favourite Comics Hero" Eagle Award

Acclaimed comics writer Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Watchmen) listed Hellboy on his recommendations page, particularly Wake the Devil (Vol 2), calling it "the skillful cutting and the setting of the stone that we can see Mignola's sharp contemporary sensibilities at work".

March 2009, the Dark Horse Comics character, Hellboy won two categories in the fan voted Project Fanboy Awards for 2008.

See also


  1. (Hellboy,Film,2005)
  2. Hellboy: the wild hunt #6
  3. , official sponsor of Tokenzone marketing promotion for Hellboy 2 DVD/Blu-ray:
  4. Going to the Chapel: Mignola Returns to Drawing Hellboy, Comic Book Resources, October 27, 2008
  5. IDT Corporation - Press Releases
  6. Del Toro Films - Guillermo Del Toro Fansite
  7. Alan Moore Recommends
  8. Project Fanboy Award Winners


External links

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