Hellboy was first introduced in a comic book in 1993, and as you can imagine, many collections of those works have been published through the years. His origins begin in Seed of Destruction, and his long story continues in several more (Wake the Devil, The Right Hand of Doom, Strange Places, among others). Luckily, any book in the Hellboy storyline is a good jumping-on point, as creator Mike Mignola keeps the story open to both old and new readers, never convoluting the tale in the insular way that some older series can develop.
Hellboy is, as his name would imply, a demon, but fortunately, he fights against evil rather than for it. He first came to earth in 1944, summoned by the Nazis as a tool they hoped to use to conquer the world. Instead, he became a force for good and even became a hero in the United States. He joined the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) and with them he battles against some horrible and horrifying enemies.
While it may sound dark, Hellboy is pure escapist fun of the kind that the comics industry was built on. More that that, though, the books build on classic works of fantasy, including the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. Mignola has always kept a rare and intelligent sense of humor working throughout all the books. While Hellboy “works” in the superhero vein, its solid foundation in the literary world makes it constantly surprising and more fun than most superheroes ever get to have.
Reviewed by John Hogan on April 29, 2008
Hellboy, Volume 1: Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil