For October’s Graphic Content offering, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, we decided to showcase books from the character’s creator, comics superstar Mike Mignola. These two books expand upon the universe shown in the film, and give you thrilling tales of monster-fighting through the ages. We’ve also got a new entrant in the spooky monster battle arena, with an unlikely group of protagonists. Warp One Comics Manager Zachary Palmer chips in this month with a supernaturally-tinged western comic, that’ll also be of interest to Hellboy fans.
Hellboy: Seed of Destuction (originally published 1994)
Hellboy’s comic adventure kicked off with this miniseries almost twenty years ago. These stories were the basis for the first Hellboy film, but also serve as a great primer on the dark world in which he inhabits. In this volume, we are privy to the daring raid on Rasputin’s occult rituals during World War II by U.S. soldiers, the result of which was the appearance of a baby who looks not quite human, but also not quite demonic. After growing up in the care of the BPRD, Hellboy becomes the world’s greatest occult detective, and must solve the murder of his savior and mentor, Professor Bruttenholm.
Baltimore Volume One: The Plague Ships (originally published 2010)
The genesis of Mignola’s newest creation, the one-legged monster hunter Captain Lord Henry Baltimore, came in the form of an illustrated novel back in 2007. The story proved to be so popular that a regular comics series began soon after, the first of which is collected here. In this tale, Lord Baltimore, recounts his origin, as an officer in the First World War who ran afoul of the machinations of a horrible vampire, with the resulting clash taking the officer’s leg and the vampire’s eye. The Plague Ships takes place after the war’s premature conclusion, as the cantankerous creature killer is searching around a small town for Red King, a vampire that killed his family. While somewhat darker in tone than most of Hellboy’s cinematic adventures, the Baltimore comics offer a fascinating glimpse at an alternate history.
Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites (originally published 2009)
The town of Burden Hill is protected not by a large red man with a rocky fist, nor by a one-legged monster hunter with a spear. No, this small burg is the domain of the Wise Dog Society, a group of dogs (and cats) who use magic powers and animal instincts to maintain the barrier between our world and that of the supernatural. Beasts of Burden is a fantastic new take on a monster-hunting story, combining the spookily lovely painted art of Jill Thompson with the fiendish plotting of Evan Dorkin. The four-legged defenders of Burden Hill have even crossed over with HB himself, in the one-shot story Sacrifice.
The Sixth Gun TPB 1: Cold Dead Fingers
Zach: The Sixth Gun, from writer Cullen Bunn and artist Brian Hurt, is a classic adventure story set in an Old West strewn with supernatural terrors just waiting for people curious or unlucky enough to cross their path. The protagonist, Drake Sinclair, is a gunslinging rogue and dabbler in dark sorcery seeking to atone for his chequered past by putting to rest a terrifying evil he helped create. Along with Becky, an ordinary homesteading young woman unfortunate enough to become bound to one of six mythical revolvers of great and unholy power, Drake opposes an undead Confederate general and his retinue of ruthless accursed gunmen in their bid to unleash hell on earth.
Like Hellboy, The Sixth Gun mixes action and adventure with supernatural horror and choice bits of folklore. Like the Old West itself, the inspirations for the magical forces in The Sixth Gun are a jumbled mess of different cultural and literary myths, from The Lord of the Rings to Native American legend, Haitian voodoo traditions, classic ghost stories, and even the tall tales spun by travelling hucksters to scam the credulous. The Sixth Gun uses all of these to create its own mythology for its host of characters to discover, confront, and fear.