HELLBOYMedium: Comic books
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
First appeared: 1993
Creator: Mike Mignola
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According to the comic books where he appears, Hellboy was brought into this world by someone so evil, he masqueraded as a Nazi scientist so nobody would suspect how bad he really was. The operation he was working on was called "Project Ragna Rok", and was designed to bring about the event of that name, as described in Norse mythology (but usually spelled as one word). Modern
conspiracy buffs refer to what he was doing as "immanentizing the Eschaton". Ordinary people would call it causing the end of the world.
In the real world, Hellboy was brought into being by cartoonist Mike Mignola, who had worked only on other people's properties, such as DC's Phantom Stranger and Marvel's Cloak & Dagger, before introducing this one in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2, given out at the 1993 comic book convention in that city. It was a four-page story, done to promote the character's upcoming four-issue mini-series, Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, which was published the following year by Dark Horse Comics (The Mask, Concrete). After it was over, Dark Horse collected it into a graphic novel, and has kept in print ever since.
The mini-series first dealt with Hellboy's origin. In 1944, with Hitler increasingly eager to reverse the tide of war, a man with occult leanings and a murky past gathered a team of high-ranking Nazis for an experiment which, he assured Hitler, would make it all better. They performed the experiment on December 23, but it seemed to accomplish nothing — only Herr No-name knew that hundreds of miles away, a demon-child suddenly appeared from who-knows-where. A chance remark on the part of a witness, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (pronounced "Broom"), gave the tyke, who didn't remember a thing before that moment, his name.
For the next half-century — just enough to bring the story to the comic book's publication date — Bruttenholm functioned as Hellboy's foster father. When he grew up, Hellboy became an operative for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, whose other agents, such as Elizabeth Sherman and Abraham Sapien, are also gifted, if that's the proper word, with occult powers. Together, they function as a team of superheroes who operate in a dark world inhabited by supernatural horrors.
The rest of the story dealt with the re-appearance of the man who had summoned Hellboy, but readers didn't find out much more about where he came from — or about Hellboy's own early life, assuming he had one. More mini-series/graphic novels followed — Wake the Devil (1996), Box Full of Evil (1999), Conqueror Worm (2001), more Three prose novels came out between 1997 and 2001. Hellboy has had crossovers with Batman, Savage Dragon, Starman (son of the 1940s Starman) and others. 1999's Hellboy Jr., by Bill Wray (Ren & Stimpy) was to Hellboy approximately as Hot Stuff the Little Devil was to Tchernobog, from the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence of Fantasia.
Hellboy's movie premiered in Los Angeles on March 30, 2004, with its general release three days later. Ron Perlman (whose voice is heard in Teen Titans and Phantom 2040, by the way) played the title role, with John Hurt as Trevor Bruttenholm, Selma Blair as Liz Sherman and Doug Jones as Abe Sapien (but with David Hyde Pierce doing Abe's voice, uncredited). A video game is planned for 2007.
And the Hellboy comics, too, continue to appear on a regular basis.