This volume starts with the Hellboy’s origins, not that different from the movie, and then quickly jumps to the death of Trevor Bruttenholm. You got to wonder how soon it was before Mignola realized he shouldn’t have killed one of his best characters in the first issue. Hellboy, Abe, and Liz spend the rest of the issue solving the mystery of Bruttenholm’s death and confronting the man who brought Hellboy to earth. Having just said not to worry about spoilers, I think that was a pretty clean synopsis. Feel free to provide your own.
The first thing I noticed on re-reading was that Hellboy is far more talkative than he would become. Of course, it isn’t scripted by Mignola, but by John Byrne, who also scripted Hellboy’s first two appearances (included as extras). Still, its strange to hear him describe himself as the “world’s greatest paranormal investigator.” Its also strange to see Abe in disguise. I don’t remember him doing that elsewhere.
The roots of everything can be seen here: Ogdru Jahad, Nazis, Hyperborea, the frog men(!) who would grow to become extremely important. You name it. Mignola is drawing on Lovecraft, Theosophy, and Old Testament pseudepigraphy (as the story of Ogdru Jahad develops it is obvious that he is using the story of the Watchers in I Enoch). He obviously had a strong sense of where he wanted to go, or at least the ground he wanted to cover.
Other thoughts and observances:
Liked the intro by Robert Bloch. Bloch is best known today as the author of Psycho, but he was a friend and protégé of Lovecraft and one of the first people, aside from Lovecraft himself to develop Lovecraft’s mythos.
Our hero spends the climatic final scenes getting smacked down, while Abe and Liz save the day. And him.
The space men are a great Kirby-esque/New Gods moment, but just who are they?!
My favourite thing in the book: that Mrs. Cavendish refers to our hero as “Mr. Boy.”
And, lastly, a confession. Before I started reading the series, and I can’t honestly remember when I first jumped in, or even which was the first story I read, I was one of those who just assumed Hellboy was wearing goggles. I didn’t know why, but that’s okay. I like goggles.