Hellboy is a fictional DARK HORSE Comics character created by Mike Mignola. He first appeared in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2.
As a demon named Anung Un Rama, Hellboy was brought to Earth as an infant by Nazi occultists. He was rescued by Allied forces and raised by the United States' Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD). He grew up to be a large red-skinned demon with a tail, horns (which he files down to stumps), and a big stone right hand. Although a bit gruff, he shows none of the malevolence thought to be intrinsic to demons and works with other strange creatures in the B.P.R.D. He has been dubbed as the "World's Greatest Paranormal Investigator."
Hellboy has been featured in a sequence of comic book mini-series published by DARK HORSE Comics, influenced by vintage adventure and horror fiction. They have been the most successful comics not published by Marvel, DC, or Image Comics.
The comics were adapted into a 2004 film starring Ron Perlman as Hellboy with a sequel in the works and two straight to DVD animated films, the first of which, The Sword of Storms, was released on February 06, 2007.
Hellboy debuted in 1993 in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 (DARK HORSE Comics). Written and drawn by creator Mike Mignola, the stories have a flavor of supernatural adventure with a dark mood embodied by Mignola's unique sense of design (which may be characterized by Mignola's incisive linework, and his distinctive balance of heavy shadows and pure colors).
Mignola's stories are heavily influenced by, and have been dedicated to, H. P. Lovecraft, Jack Kirby, Edgar Allan Poe, and other authors. Horror stories of the Weird Tales variety are another important influence. Writer Robert Bloch has praised Hellboy as one of the most innovative and entertaining comics in recent years. Hellboy stories have drawn on folklore from countries including Ireland, Norway, Russia, Malaysia, and Japan.
Most of the Hellboy and related B.P.R.D. comics have been collected as trade paperbacks, and some later stories have been crafted by creators other than Mignola, including Christopher Golden, Guy Davis and Ryan Sook. Golden has also written several novels about the character.
Hellboy remains one of the few DARK HORSE titles to remain in print after the company's focus shifted from their own titles to licensed properties.
Hellboy is a creature summoned in the final months of World War II by Grigori Rasputin, on a small island just off the coast of Scotland ('Tarmagant Island'), having been commissioned by the Nazis to change the tide of war ("Project Ragna Rok"). Hellboy appeared in a fireball in a ruined church in East Bromwich, England, December 23, 1944. He proved not to be a devil, but a little boy-like creature (with red skin, horns, a tail, and a large stone right hand) - hence the name given by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (pronounced Broom).
Taken by the U.S. forces to an Air Force base somewhere in New Mexico, Hellboy was raised by the United States Army and by the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, a U.S. agency dedicated to combating occult threats. He was granted honorary human status by the United Nations in 1952.
As an adult, Hellboy became the primary agent for the B.P.R.D. alongside several other human and quasi-human agents. His fellow agents included Abe Sapien, an amphibian humanoid ("ichthyo sapien"); Liz Sherman, a pyrokinetic; and Roger, an unusually large homunculus.
In the comics Hellboy is at least semi-famous, having been granted "honorary human" status by the UN in the 1950s and being known as the "world's greatest paranormal investigator." As such he interacts regularly with normal humans, most of whom are not presented as overtly reacting to his strange appearance (though his primary interactions in the comics are with law enforcement officials from different organizations, the military, and various "scholars of the weird"). In the film version, however, he is kept under lock and key and considered simply an "urban legend" by the general populace.
Hellboy's adventures in the comics span the 1940s to the present day and involve elements such as sorcerers, Nazis, the Thule Society, hollow earth explorers, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and other oddities such as the Ogdru Jahad.
Several of the storylines deal with Hellboy's Right Hand of Doom and its purpose in initiating the Apocalypse. Much in the same vein as fellow comic-book superheroes Daredevil, Batman, Blade, and Wolverine, Hellboy is a hero constantly haunted by the knowledge of his past. In "Wake The Devil", the second graphic novel, he says of his past, "I like not knowing. I've gotten by for fifty-two years with not knowing. I sleep good not knowing."
Powers and Abilities
Hellboy's superhuman abilities stem from his demonic nature. While his specific Powers and abilities have never been explicitly described in the comics, Hellboy is much stronger and more physically durable than an ordinary human being. He has been savagely beaten by large monsters on several occasions and survived, often with relatively minor injuries. On one occasion, he directly charged an MG-42 machine gun and took numerous bullets to the chest before destroying the gun.
The extent of Hellboy's strength is unclear, but he has, for example, torn down a large tree and hurled it at an opponent. He has also thrown opponents weighing at least four to five hundred pounds.
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 effectively invulnerable and feels no pain, and is much like a sledgehammer when used to punch an enemy. Of course, being far larger than an ordinary human hand, the Right Hand of Doom is not very suitable for use with most objects, so he relies on his average-sized left hand to operate weapons and devices, although it has proved flexible enough to catch a fly. Because of this, he is most likely ambidextrous.
More importantly, the Right Hand of Doom also is the key to "open the pit [of hell]" and has the "power to loose and command the dragon Ogdru Jahad;" in other words, it is a catalyst that will bring about Ragnarök/Armageddon/Apocalypse etc. The comic books themselves never actually 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. 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, so to prevent it falling into the wrong hands Hellboy intends to keep the arm and protect it.
In addition to his natural gifts, Hellboy carries a variety of religious items--such as holy relics, horseshoes, and herbs--in his utility belt, as well as a variety of grenades and other demolition tools. These often come in handy when fighting supernatural beasts.
Hellboy commonly carries an oversized pistol. In the film adaptation, the gun is called the "Samaritan," and Hellboy states that he uses special bullets containing silver shavings, holy water, and other materials to ensure the weapon's effectiveness against supernatural creatures. It is also stated that the gun is fashioned from melted-down church bells and fragments of the True Cross. It should be noted, though, that Hellboy is by his own admission a lousy shot, preferring to mix it up in hand-to-hand combat whenever possible and eschewing most weapons.
A possible reason for his dislike of firearms is the fact that mechanical devices, especially the B.P.R.D.'s high-tech gadgetry, tend to foul up when he uses them. No explanation of this is given, but gun jams, exploding jetpacks, and other mishaps appear common around Hellboy, quite possibly due to his demonic nature.
The Right Hand of Doom
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
In Seed of Destruction, Hellboy is confronted by Rasputin and begins to find out what he is doing on Earth and who summoned him there. Hellboy's 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.
In Wake the Devil, Hellboy meets the Goddess Hecate. Hellboy, addressed as "Anung Un Rama", 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 other-worldly 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 regrown horns, revealing what those two circles on his forehead are.
In Box Full of Evil (collected in the The Right Hand of Doom TPB.), 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 what his name means: "Anung Un Rama, World Destroyer, The Great Beast ..." "... and upon his brow is set a crown of fire ...". This is not who he is, and so not his name any longer. Ualac is defeated. 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.
In Strange Places, Hellboy's apparent destiny as the on-bringer of the Apocalypse continues to attract supernatural attention. After seeking advice from a fabled African witch-doctor, Hellboy dives to the treacherous ocean bottom. The Bog Roosh, a sinister sea hag, manages to capture him using an enchanted nail and a trio of flighty mermaids. The Bog Roosh then reveals her plan to prevent the end of the world by dismembering Hellboy and sending his Right Hand to the deepest depths, robbing the Ogdru Jahad of their key into this world. With the help of the third mermaid, Hellboy manages to defeat the hag, but is lost beneath the sea for two years.
After washing up on the shores of an unknown island, Hellboy inadvertently resurrects an ancient mystic who alone holds the knowledge of the secret history of the universe. The origins of God, angels, the Earth, the Ogdru Jahad and their spawn are revealed, as well as the exact source of the Right Hand of Doom. Unfortunately for the mystic, he's been brought back to life by Hellboy's blood, and is driven insane by its demonic nature. Hellboy manages to defeat the increasingly malevolent being, as well as destroy the gargantuan Urgo-Hem, an Ogdru Jahad spawn that prowls the island. These struggles are watched with great interest by the Daoine Sidh, especially a certain changeling with an old grudge against Hellboy. The denizens of this faerie kingdom realize that Hellboy has left whatever destined path was meant for him, but none seem to doubt that the Ogdru Jahad will make use of his Hand in one way or another. The goddess Hecate seems content to simply wait for the end of the world to which she will bear witness, but Gruagach the changeling will not bow out of existence peacefully.
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