casualgamer comes back with another, single request, and it’s quite a tasty one: Hellboy, the demonic superhero created by Mike Mignola. The hornless, bright red devil already appeared in two very good movies, portrayed by Ron Perlman. The first one acted as an origin story, with Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. fighting the evil sorcerer Grigori Rasputin and Hellboy facing his origins and true purpose, while the sequel, Hellboy: The Golden Army, was an intriguing and amazing picture that saw the B.P.R.D. square off against the vengeful fairy tale creatures led by elvian Prince Nuada, with Hellboy saving the world once again, and finally retiring from B.P.R.D. to live a “normal” life as a husband and a father with his beloved Liz Sherman. A threequel has been in development hell for quite some years now, but eventually Mignola announced an R-rated reboot starring David Harbour in the lead role. Waiting to see whether or not Harbour will be able to top Perlman’s performance, let’s take a look at the original Harbinger of the Apocalypse.
The demon known as Anung Un Rama (literally “and upon his brow is set a crown of flame“) was born from the unnatural relation between the English witch Sarah Hughes, a direct descendant of Sir Mordred and thus of the legendary King Arthur (thus making the demon himself the rightful King of England), and the demon lord Azzael (thus making the baby also the heir of the throne of Hell). Sarah had spent her life trying to save her soul repenting from her past as a witch, and on her deathbed, in 1617, she expressed the wish to die in the church of East Bromwich, with her two children, a nun and a pastor, by her side… but Azzael appeared to claim the soul he had been promised. Sarah was dragged to Hell, where her body was burnt, and only the demonic child she had conceived with Azzael in her youth remained. The demon lord named his son Anung Un Rama, and chopped his right hand off, attaching to its place the Right Hand of Doom, the only key able to control the outworldy entities known as the Ogdru Jahad. When the other demons learnt that Azzael was trying to control the Jahad, they attacked him, and right before being imprisoned in ice the devil sent his son to Earth to protect him from his rivals. The baby appeared on Tarmagant Island, in Scotland, the night of December 23, 1944: at the end of World War II, the sorcerer Rasputin summoned him on behalf of the Third Reich to use him to free his masters, the Ogdru Jahad, and turn the tides of the war. A group of Americans led by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm was investigating the ritual, and intercepted the creature. Realizing the baby was different from a pure demon, Bruttenholm befriended him, and decided to take him along. He christened him “Hellboy”, and eventually adopted him. The discovery of Hellboy remained a secret, and the US Government, in the form of the secret organization for supernatural threats B.P.R.D., raised the child to become the greatest paranormal investigator ever existed. Taken to a secret base in New Mexico, Hellboy started his life among humans, and his training to become a B.P.R.D. operative.
While Hellboy grew up pretty fast, looking like a grown up man at age 8, his mind was still the one of a teenager, and he often questioned the authority of his superiors and instructors. He was taught the basics of exorcism, use of artifacts and magic, but he also received a combat training by the Torch of Liberty, a seasoned superhero who also gave him his trademark gun, the Good Samaritan. Thanks to his superhuman abilities, Hellboy became the primary agent of B.P.R.D., and traveled the world chasing Nazi scientists and sorcerers in hiding after the fall of the regime, mythological creatures such as werewolves and vampires, and even pagan deities and demonic creatures. It was while accomplishing difficult missions for the Bureau that Hellboy started finding something disturbing about his origins and his destiny: while assisting the medium Mister Tod in 1979, Hellboy met a Ogdru Hem, a child of the Ogdru Jahad, and this put him in contact with the horrors beyond space for the first time. Other missions followed this one, but Bruttenholm realized he had to tell Hellboy the truth about his nature. Just when he was about to tell him something crucial, however, Bruttenholm was killed by a frog monster, who was in turn slain by an angry Hellboy. Following the only lead he had from his adoptive father, who was speaking about the Cavendish Family right before dying, Hellboy collected his friends and fellow agents Abe Sapien (a human-fish hybrid) and Liz Sherman (a pyrokinetic girl with uncontrollable powers) and went to Cavendish Hall Manor, a legendary haunted house inhabited only by Mrs. Cavendish, an elderly widow who had lost her three sons in an expedition in the Arctic. Much to the agents’ surprise, Cavendish revealed to them that the expedition was led by Bruttenholm himself. What Hellboy didn’t know was that the Cavendish boys and the Professor had unwillingly awoken a Ogdru Hem, Sadu-Hem (the origin of the frog monsters), and most importantly Rasputin, who had manipulated events to lure Hellboy to Cavendish Hall and use him to bring the apocalypse and the Ogdru Jahad upon Earth. It was finally time for Hellboy to learn about his past… and to decide about his future, whether he would have sided with a humanity he didn’t belong to, or with cosmic abominations bent on destroying it.
Despite his demonic appearance, Anung Un Rama is a good-hearted and altruistic “man”, albeit quite childish and immature, still retaining the rebellious mind and character of a teenager. As Hellboy, he possesses superhuman strength, stamina and durability, being impervious to most damage, and being able to heal fast from apparently any kind of damage, including lethal one; he’s instinctively able to comprehend magic language and rituals, and his B.P.R.D. training also made him a proficient exorcist and relics and artifacts user, as well as an amateur magic user; an expert in armed and unarmed combat, he uses any kind of weapon, from sacred relics to his oversize revolver the Good Samaritan to blades (including the legendary sword Excalibur) in his missions; his right hand has been replaced with the Right Hand of Doom, the limb of the deceased god Anum, and it’s able to free the Ogdru Jahad from their extradimensional prison and unleash Ragnarok on Earth. A living contradiction, Hellboy is a devil who feels true love and empathy towards humans, and he hides behind the facade of a gritty tough guy with a harsh sense of humor the fear he’s eventually going to be used to destroy the world he loves so much.