Comic Review: Hellboy Seed Of Destruction

Once upon a time, there used to be a regular Gabbing Geek podcast.  And for one of those podcasts, Jenny referred to Hellboy as just as guy with a gun.

That was so wrong.

As it is, I gave Jenny a few graphic novels last year when I visited Texas, including this first Hellboy trade, Seed of Destruction.  She told me she liked that one the best, actually.

Then I remembered I lost track ages ago of how far I got with my own Hellboy reading and started over at the beginning.

Seed of Desctrution, the first volume and inspiration for the first movie, opens with how Hellboy came to Earth in the latter years of World War II.  To be sure, the film took a few liberties with the source material, but nothing that feels way wrong.  Mostly it involved expanding the roles of other characters.  Professor Bruttenholm (pronounced “Broom”), Hellboy’s adoptive father, dies off rather quickly.  Villainous Rasputin is never directly named, his true identity only hinted at by people who know a little history.  Liz Sherman is a co-worker Hellboy cares about, but no more than he does anyone else he works with.  And Abe Sapien doesn’t have anything approaching psychic powers.

Actually, the biggest difference may be Hellboy himself.  Presented in the movie as something of an urban legend for anyone who doesn’t work for the B.R.P.D., in the comics, Hellboy came seemingly go anywhere he wants and no one seems to bat an eyelash.  His appearance is treated as normal, unlike Abe who first appears in a disguise.

From left to right: Hellboy, Abe, Liz, an old lady serving them tea.

As it is, the volume is a quick, crash course on Hellboy.  We get to know him a bit.  We find out about his stone hand, the one that’s superstrong and seemingly impervious to damage.  We learn he’s the foremost paranormal investigator on the planet.  We learn he’s a terrible shot with the gun he carries.  And we learn he’d rather stick up for his friends then learn his true destiny.  What more do you need to know by way of introduction?

As it is, creator Mike Mignola’s appropriately moody and distinctive artwork here is assisted by script work from John Byrne.  It’s been a while, but I seem to recall the series improved after Byrne left and Mignola took over the scripting duties as well.  Byrne’s work is a bit more melodramatic in places, constantly reminding readers of plot points as befits a monthly comic, but there are instances where the dialogue boxes shift from Hellboy to Abe as both of them investigate an old house on a cursed lake.  There isn’t anything to indicate the change aside, not in the style of the lettering or the shape or color of the boxes.  The only way to know is it doesn’t make sense for Hellboy (or Abe) to be having certain parts of the conversation.

However, Dark Horse did include a pair of quick Hellboy stories that predated the main story, making for a nice treat for readers.  Eight and a half creepy frog people out of ten.


Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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