It gets complicated.
I wanted to read some Hellboy comics, after watching the first movie last year1.
So, the other day, I got myself some comics and tore through the first half of the main Hellboy set of stories. I usually like reading my comics in print, in trade paperback or hardcover; I can’t be bothered to keep up with those little monthly issues, and it’s not economical, anyway, and, I mean, I’m still just getting into Hellboy, which started in the ‘90s, and Sandman, which I first learned about when my best friend was reading it back in high school (and it started years before that).
So anyway, I love nothing more than a nice, heavy trade-paperback collection jammed with beautiful art, but right now I don’t particularly want to have things delivered to me if I don’t need to (save the delivery capacity for people who need important things urgently, and reduce the need to make contact with other people), and it turns out the Hellboy books are really cheap on the Canadian Kindle store right now: the Omnibus editions—the thick, comprehensive collections I prefer—are like six-and-a-half bucks.
Heck, a month ago, when I could still go to coffee shops, I was spending that on lattes a day. Might as well load up on comics, and reading them on my iPad is almost as pleasant an experience as reading the real thing (and the iPad never flips shut and loses your page 😏).
The main Hellboy storyline is easy enough to track in the big collections: Omnibus editions 1-4 cover it beginning to end, with an assortment of short stories thrown in. Then there are two more collections: The Complete Short Stories, volumes 1 and 2, which have a bunch more short stories (as the name implies), and that’s that.
Simple! I’ll buy six collections, and that’s all the Hellboy, and then I can… I can…
Glancing at the fictional character biography of Hellboy on Wikipedia, I can see that the last Omnibus Collection, “Hellboy in Hell”… only carries the plot most of the way to the end. So, on the one hand… I’m just been spoilered, boo-hoo. On the other hand… where is the rest of this story told?? I must know.
I MUST KNOW!
As Hellboy himself is fond of saying, “Oh, crap.”
Turns out there are multiple whole other series! The principal—and most important to this gripping narrative—is the BPRD. Looking at the chronological history, it seems like at least part of this was written and released in conjunction with the last half or third of the main Hellboy arc. I haven’t looked into it yet—I’m doing that next—but I assume it follows the adventures of Hellboy’s former companions in the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence after he quits the company, and (judging from that spoiler at the end of the Fictional Character Biography) after the final-seeming events of Hellboy in Hell.
Now I have a bunch more comics to buy. But first I have to figure out which ones I need to read to fill in the rest of the story, and in what order!
I cannot imagine a more satisfying task into which to sink a couple hours of time. 🤓
Perhaps once I’m done I’ll have a somewhat comprehensive “Hellboy Reader” I can share, for the next doomed soul that follows in my wake.
Though, having said that, I bet if I search the internet such a thing already exists… 🤔
I ignored the remake, because they remake everything, but now that I know a bit more about the storyline, and I know it’s David Harbour playing Hellboy, and now that I’ve seen the first season of Stranger Things and know who David Harbour is… the new movie may well be worth a watch, if I’m not totally exhausted with Hellboy by the end of this adventure, which, read on. ↩