The colorful characters of Marvel and DC Comics may dominate our popular media, but they are far from the only contributors to it. Dark Horse Comic’s Hellboy is a massive figure in pop culture, with a titular series, multiple spin-offs, and two feature films. As the film franchise will be getting a reboot in 2019, here are some fun facts to get you reacquainted with Big Red and his adventures.
The relationship between pyrokinetic Liz Sherman and Hellboy is completely different in the Guillermo del Toro movies and comics. In the films, she is his on-off again love interest, and much of the narrative is driven by their feelings for one another. In the comics, however, they have a completely platonic, almost familial bond that began when Liz was a little girl.
Just Another Working Stiff
While the Hellboy from the Guillermo del Toro FIlms is something of a badly-kept secret by the US government and is largely recognized as their most valuable asset, the original is somewhat more mundane. Though valued for his experience and abilities, Hellboy is more or less just another field operative for the clandestine B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) in their fight and study of the supernatural and occult. Part of the charm of the comics comes directly from Hellboy’s laid-back, just-another-day-at-the-office attitude towards nearly every threat or oddity he comes across in his adventures.
Hellboy Creator, writer, and artist Mike Mignola claims to have largely based Hellboy’s attitude on his father, a Vietnam veteran, and carpenter who could describe gory work accidents and war stories like he was simply observing the weather.
DC vs Dark Horse
While still in the development stages the comic and character were initially pitched to DC in the early nineties. Though intrigued, DC eventually turned it down, supposedly because of discomfort with the ‘hell’ aspect. Recently the comic company has shown their change of tune regarding the franchise with their video game Injustice 2 (2017). The game includes Hellboy as a DLC guest character and even gets his own ending drawn by Mike Mignola.
Though both comics and film have paid the most attention to Hellboy’s demonic origins and father Azzeal, he actually had an entirely human mother. He was conceived by a young witch, Sarah Hughes, in the late 16th century when she made a marriage pact with Azzael. Decades later a now-repentant and elderly Sarah attempted to escape her husband and fate in Hell by turning to the church for help. This failed, and when Azzael claimed Sarah he immolated her body with hellfire, from which the infant Hellboy was born.
Despite his fearsome appearance and laid-back demeanor, Hellboy is the scion of two famous royal bloodlines. His father Azzeal was one of the Dukes of Hell and his mother was a witch directly descended from the Arthurian villain Mordred, and therefore a descendant of King Arthur himself. As a result, Hellboy is supposedly destined to become both the King of England and of Hell, fates which he has continually struggled against.
This connection to Arthurian mythology may soon be made pertinent in the upcoming reboot, which reportedly features the Queen of Blood as the main antagonist. The Queen of Blood, Nimue, was an Arthurian witch who seduced the wizard Merlin into telling her all his magical knowledge. This knowledge drove Nimue mad and she became such a threat that all the other witches of England to destroy her, albeit temporarily. When Nimue was resuscitated the heir of Arthur, Hellboy, was the only one who could defeat her.
The first film of the Hellboy reboot, directed by Neil Marshall, is slated for January 2019. It stars Ian McShane (American Gods), David Harbour (Stranger Things), and Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil series).