Hellboy Library Edition, Vol. 1
Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil
Written by John Byrne and Mike Mignola
Art by Mike Mignola
Dark Horse Comics
I have to admit to feeling bad about never really reading that much of the Hellboy comic before. It took me a while to warm to Mike Mignola‘s art style and by the time my taste had matured to fully appreciate it and by that time, there was already a ton of material to catch up on, so that intimidated me a bit. However, I’m a sucker for oversized hardcover editions of old material, so when Dark Horse announced that they were going back and re-releasing Hellboy in their oversized Library Edition format, I decided now would be the perfect time to get on board, and man am I glad I did. This edition is totally worth the money, which to be fair is a bit high. The production on the book is great though, and I’m really looking forward to the second volume, which comes out shortly.
This volume covers the first two Hellboy stories, Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil.
If you’ve seen the first movie, you’ll know a lot of the plot for Seed of Destruction, although the movie does have a lot of different elements. The basic story is that Hellboy’s origin is briefly told, and then we jump years into the future as Hellboy and the rest of the BPRD fight Rasputin, who wants to use Hellboy to bring about the end of the world. There are demons, there’s Nazis, and there’s big explosions. Basically, it sets up the characters, the world, and the tone for the rest of the series, while still being a fun adventure story. The second story, Wake the Devil, is Mignola’s take on the classic vampire story, while still exploring and establishing the world. Hellboy and his team travel to Europe to stop the return of the vampire Vladimir Giurescu. What I really enjoyed about reading it at this point, is seeing elements that show up in the second film, namely the concept that Hellboy will have to choose between the demon world he was born in and the human world he was raised in. The story is, again, very action packed and a lot of fun to read.
The first thing to get out of the way is that this is a fairly pricey book, as is to be expected with these oversized hardcovers. Fortunately, that money goes towards nice thick paper stock, some great binding and a beautiful cover. The production on this edition is top notch, with the art spread on the page enough so that no art gets lost in the middle. The art and color really pop off the pages, and what art it is. Like I said, it’s taken me a while to really come to appreciate Mike Mignola’s art style, and now I can see why so many people are drawn to it. He has a mastery of negative space and color that few can reach. The subdued coloring of Mark Chiarello also stands out, so that when someone like Hellboy comes onto the page, he stands out that much more. His design work also stands out, from the various members of the BPRD, to the all the monsters they are forced to take down. You can say that he borrows a lot of his style from Jack Kirby, but he has a style all his own. It’s a shame that he hasn’t been able to draw as much in recent years, because his work really sets Hellboy out as a something different than anything else being created today.
The question I always have when reading about one of the massive oversized numbers is, how comfortable is it to read, and I have to say this is one of the more comfortable massive hardcovers I’ve read so far. Maybe it’s due to not having as many issues as other mega-collections, but I had an easier time finding a nice spot for it on my lap than some of the other heavier collections. There are plenty of extras in this collection, mostly early drawings of the characters, and how they came from their early form to the actual depiction that saw print.
So if you’re a first-time reader or a long-time fan, there’s something here for you to enjoy. It’s a good chance to catch up on a modern classic, or maybe it’s an opportunity to go back and re-read a favorite. Either way there’s much enjoyment to be had here, and I’d recommend it to anyone that has the slightest interest in the property. Me, I think I’ll sit back and read it again in preparation for the movie, and patiently wait for Volume 2 to arrive, which can’t happen too soon.