Halloween Reads: Five HellBoy Stories
It is that time of year again when the air gets cold, the leaves begin to fall and there is a slight “spookiness” in the air. Yes, it is Halloween time again! The staff here at Word of the Nerd want to get you into the Halloween spirit, so we will be posting Halloween related articles each week in October to get you ready for Halloween!
Personally, I have list of movies I watch in October just for Halloween, I figured the same logic could to apply to comics and what better comic to start with for Halloween than HellBoy! Mike Mignola’s (creator of HellBoy) HellBoy screams Halloween, it has that great feel of darkness and dread along with some humor and not taking itself too seriously. Mignola’s style of storytelling using bits and pieces of local Myth’s and legends from around the globe gives a great edge to the stories that will have you wanting to do some research yourself, heck you might even to some local legend research in your area. The art is perfect for Halloween mostly filled with darkness and in the shadows, most of the colors are toned down; overall the art tells a story in of itself in not showing too much at one time, HellBoy literally keeps you in the dark. Mignola’s art style is gives a creepy vibe that plays with the readers eyes to give the feeling of uneasiness the characters are feeling in these situations they get into. So let’s get to the list, I mainly picked short stories as I feel they have a better one and done feel, while some have an overarching story within the HellBoy universe many of these you can just start reading without knowing much about HellBoy. So let’s get to the list!
The first entry is into this list is the first HellBoy collection, this will give you an introduction to HellBoy and the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.). “Seed of Destruction” serves as an origin story for Hellboy and will give you everything you need to know just to jump into the other stories on the list if you want to, but it also stands as a great horror story that fits right into a Halloween theme. We got our Nazi’s doing some satanic stuff, frog monsters, creepy castles and all sorts of lovecraftian horror floating through this book. It will set the tone and let you know what you are in for the rest of the stories and get you invested in the HellBoy universe. “Seed of Destruction” is the longest story on my list as it is the actual whole collection of issues 1-4. The rest of the list is more one and done or “Monster of the week” type stories.
The story is featured in Hellboy collection number 3 The Chained Coffin and Others or you can buy the single issue. Now there is something about Christmas and ghost stories that just flows together so nicely. Mike Mignola plays on this theme of Christmas and horror very well deriving the story from a folktale and adding a Christmas twist, he adds just enough Christmas theme to give you the feeling of that time of year but it is not over bearing with it. The snow covered graveyard is a beautiful set of scenery and gives the feeling of that quiet cold dread you get on a cold, silent night. Mignola weaves a strong story that will leave you with a warm feeling at the end. The night before Christmas, ghost and monsters a tale of a lost child, not much else you could ask for in a story to give you goosebumps!
3. The Vârcolac (Click the Link for the motion comic)
This story is featured in HellBoy collection number 4: The Right Hand of Doom. Now for a Halloween you got to have a Vampire story (I don’t make the rules!) and “The Vârcolac” definitely delivers a vampire story you will not forget. Like all of these stories we the reader are dropped straight into HellBoy being on a mission, in this we are not even told who sent him or why, we just find out our fearless big red demon has been looking for a vampire and has found her, but obviously she is not going down without a fight. Now you get your basic vampire lore and everything in this story but it has a great twist of what HellBoy really has to fight. The imagery of the book is great and gives a good feel of the old Universal monster movies and will give you and interesting take on the vampire tale. Mignola definitely pulls some from fantastic horror imagery that feels like horror of the past. Great story to curl up by the fire and read.
This is also features in HellBoy collection number 4: The Right Hand of Doom or you can also purchase the singles issue. I almost put this at number one because it is my all time favorite HellBoy story. In eight pages Mignola weaves an epic tale that is just plain brilliant. This is another story based on a folktale of a saint that had a natch for slaying dragons. We get a nice shot of a very shadowy group of old men inquiring the services of our HellBoy. It seems the dragon has come back and HellBoy is going to have to deal with it. Setting the story in the daytime and putting HellBoy in the woods is a great set piece for a creepy story. Be sure to really pay attention to how Mignola lays out panels and uses silence and no dialogue in parts to really set the scene. The nature of the beast is a great “monster of the week” format and the daytime setting gives you the feeling of not even in the daylight are you safe. Mixing a good dose of humor and fear this story really is overall fantastic, Mignola is one of the best comic story tellers of our generation and “The nature of the Beast” proves it. The “shadowy group of men” will have you intrigued of what there true nature is and you will discover a sign of Hellboy’s as well. When the birds stop singing and the forest is quite, trust me it is not a good sign!
Featured in HellBoy volume 3: The Chained Coffin and Others or you can buy the single issue. If you’re a sucker for a good werewolf story (like me), “The Wolves of Saint Augustine” is for you. Mignola delivers a solid werewolf story that you probably have not seen or heard before. Set in a town in Eastern Europe where everyone in town have been murdered by a giant beast, we soon find out all is not what it seems and the ghost are only to warn of a ghastly fate. The panel of beastly eyes looking upon our heroes from the shadows lets the readers know that things are not going to go well. Soon we are plunged into dark caverns and we learn the story of the ghost and the beast that has decimated this town. There is something very scary about the werewolf to me, a normal person with a monster underneath. I always hold werewolf movies to the transformation scene (nothing has beat American Werewolf in London) and Mignola does not hold back on letting the beast come out in a great way! “The Wolves of Saint Augustine”, is Halloween to me, you have great set pieces of a literal “ghost town” and a creepy old Victorian church that has a basement you probably want to stay out of. A mystery of ghost and the beast that only wants revenge. This story will definitely make you want to sleep with the lights on!
You can pick up almost any HellBoy book and it will be a great one to get into the mood for Halloween, these are just a few of my favorites. Be sure to share your own favorite HellBoy stories with us or any of your favorite comics that get you in the Halloween spirit in the comments below. Stay tuned for more Halloween nerd fun in the weeks to come!
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