Trevor Bruttenholm (Professor Broom)

We come back to the first Hellboy with Amy H, and we find yet another main character in the person of Professor Broom, Hellboy‘s father figure, portrayed by John Hurt. He appears in the first movie as the director of B.P.R.D., just in time to be killed by Kroenen, and comes back in Hellboy II: The Golden Army in a flashback, telling baby Hellboy a tale about Elfs and, of course, the Golden Army. He’ll also appear in next year’s reboot portrayed by Ian McShane, reprising his double role as parental figure for the protagonist, and director and founder of the B.P.R.D., though any other detail is still up to conjecture. Waiting to see Broom come back to the big screen, let’s take a look at the one on paper.

Trevor Bruttenholm was born in an unspecified city of England, in 1916. Nothing is known about his early life, until he graduated at Oxford, in 1943, showing quite a natural talent for studying and researching, and quite a passion for the occult. The supernatural had an enormous fascination on Bruttenholm, and he became a world-known expert in the field. World War II was engulfing Europe at the time, and also Adolf Hitler proved to be very interested in the supernatural and the occult: to counter his agents and beat him in the mystic arms race, President Theodore Roosevelt hired Bruttenholm as a personal adviser (the Americans, unable to correctly remember his surname, nicknamed him Professor Broom, as he was known from the war onward). It was Broom the one who helped winning the war from behind the scenes, and also the one who alerted the President when a psyche he knew, Lady Cynthia Eden-Jones, foresaw in 1944 a catastrophic event of biblical proportions, taking place among the ruins of a church in East Bromwich. Professor Broom led Lady Cynthia to the US Army, and along with her and mystic Malcolm Frost he joined Sgt. George Whitman‘s troops, leading them to the desecrated church. Lady Cynthia knew that the event would have happened on December 23, and the group managed to reach East Bromwich on December 21, hiding on the place to spy what happened. Two days later, a group led by the Russian sorcerer Rasputin arrived to complete Project Ragna Rok, aimed to summon the old and malicious deities known as Ogdru Jahad and bring a fiery end to the world. While the soldiers interrupted the ritual and made short work of the Nazis, Professor Broom found a small demon-like creature appeared during Rasputin’s ceremony. Believing there was something in him beyond his devilish appearance, he decided to take him along, and named him Hellboy.

Quite understandably, the Army apprehended Hellboy, wanting to make tests on him, but Professor Broom saw things in a different way. He obtained from the President the authorization to found a special investigative and operative branch, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.), a group of American occultists who had the task of monitoring, identifying and suppressing supernatural threats all around the world. Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm became the first director, and for first he obtained the custody of Hellboy. Instead of testing, examining and experimenting him, Professor Broom decided to treat Hellboy as if he was a human child, arriving to the point of legally adopting him in 1946. During the following years, Professor Broom led several successful campaigns: he confronted the demon Varvara, who had taken the form of a small Russian girl, and he traveled to Romania to dismantle what remained of Heinrich Himmler‘s Project Vampir Sturm, aimed to create an army of vampires starting from the terribly powerful Vladimir Giurescu. When he was in the United States, he tended and cared for Hellboy, growing him to be a fine “man”. His results were astounding, the unlikely father-son relationship between them was authentic, and Broom’s methods had won even the more skeptical among his colleagues: his work brought the United Nations, on August 6, 1952, to grant Hellboy “honorary human status”, a first in history. Just a week later, Professor Broom hired Hellboy in the B.P.R.D., and made him his most formidable field agent. In the following years, Broom led the B.P.R.D. to become a powerful and capable organization, expanding its influence and its budget, foiling one apocalypse after the other. Finally, in 1958, the professor resigned from his position of director, leaving the place to Tom Manning, and retiring to private life. He however lived in the B.P.R.D. headquarters, so that he could spend more time with his adoptive son. He also used this extra time for an old research involving Lemurian language, the one Rasputin had used during that ritual more than a decade before: that was the only investigation that hadn’t led him to a satisfying conclusion, and he wanted to fix it…

Trevor Bruttenholm is a man of great genius and of even greater heart, an academic with an elastic mind who’s able to see the world beyond the veil and embrace a form of unorthodox knowledge in which he excels. As Professor Broom, he’s possibly the greatest living expert of the occult, with extensive knowledge over many fields, facts and characters connected to the supernatural; he’s also a trained agent and a fast thinker, able to deal with immediate threats putting at use his encyclopedic knowledge, a reason for which he kept working as a field agent up to 1994, when he was almost eighty years old. The founder and first director of the B.P.R.D., Trevor Bruttenholm is the man who showed the world that there’s a bigger, more frightening universe just underneath our own, and it’s his self-appointed task to protect everyone from it.

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Elizabeth “Liz” Sherman

With Emy H we meet today the girlfriend and later wife of Hellboy, at least in the movie continuity: Elizabeth “Liz” Sherman, portrayed by Selma Blair. In the first movie, she’s a retired B.P.R.D. agent deadly afraid of her own pyrokinetic abilities, as she can’t control them and constantly risks to burn everyone around her to ashes (something that turns out pretty useful, as she pulverizes the ever-resurrecting Sammael). She’s manipulated by Rasputin to come back to action, as she’s one of the keys to resurrect the Ogdru-Jahad. In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, she got married with Hellboy after years of courting, and she’s even expecting baby twins from him, in the promise of a family tainted by an obscure prophecy of the Angel of Death, and that would have been deepened in a never realized third and final chapter. In the comics, she’s indeed a powerful incendiary, but she doesn’t have romantic ties with Hellboy, and she’s quite older than her movie counterpart. Let’s see together.

Elizabeth Sherman was born in Kansas City, Kansas, on April 15, 1962. She was raised in a Catholic family, and it’s mainly because of this that, when she was ten and her pyrokinesis started to manifest with small fires, she believed they were the results of her sins, and tried to keep them secret. With sheer force of will and a lot of prayer, Liz kept her growing powers under control, until she believed to have made them disappear for good. This turned out to be tragically wrong in June 1973: she was attending to a neighbor’s birthday, along with her parents and her little brother. Among the kids at the party, there was one who was particularly annoying, and who kept pulling her ponytails… until he pulled too hard, and Liz unconsciously answered to the pain with a massive burst of fire, that destroyed an entire city block and killed thirty-two people, including her family. When the firefighters intervened, they found only the eleven-years old girl, “miraculously” unarmed, in the midst of ashes, burnt skeletons and what little remained of the houses. Also the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense was there, and asked to take custody of the girl, perfectly understanding what she was and what she was capable of, but Liz’s extended family didn’t believe in paranormal phenomena, and they obtained custody instead. The decision wasn’t the best one, as Liz grew more and more depressed, as she caused fires unwillingly, and her relatives moved her from one to another constantly. Eventually, in May 1974, even her relatives gave up and, afraid of her destructive abilities and overall convinced of their reality, delivered her to the B.P.R.D., under condition that her well-being was preserved. The B.P.R.D. scientists took her in and studied her powers, but the girl was kept in constant isolation, with only researchers in fire-proof suits being allowed to approach her. She wasn’t allowed physical contact, and barely had snippets of conversation once a week. Understandably, she grew more and more depressed, believing herself to be a curse to the world. Then she knew Hellboy.

Hellboy was a large red demon who seemed to come directly out of Liz’s imagination of Hell… but he was also the kindest man she had met in the B.P.R.D. yet, and he came to her offering a lollipop, just to break the ice. The two became friends, and Hellboy helped her in accepting herself and into adjusting to her new life, so that she came out of her depression and started to open up also with the scientists, who in the following years helped her in learning how to control her abilities. Hellboy became some sort of a big brother for her, and everytime he came back from a mission, he always visited her to tell her the story. Hellboy wanted Liz to come out of the Bureau and see some world, and Professor Bruttenholm finally agreed to that, bringing the girl along with himself to a mission in Massachusetts, in 1976. The two had been called to exorcise the spirit of a woman who had been executed centuries before as a witch, and Liz ended up empathizing with her, not believing she was guilty. Unfortunately, the woman had indeed been a witch, and she tried to possess Liz to exact her revenge. Bruttenholm and the local priest managed to exorcise the witch, saving Liz and the village, and Liz came back home with a little more experience of what it meant being an agent for the Bureau… as well as with a romantic story behind her back, as she had formed a close bond with a local boy, Teddy, and shared with him her first kiss. Back to the Bureau, she committed herself even more in learning how to control her powers, and she finally forgave herself (almost) for killing her family and all those other people. She even re-embraced her lost faith, and started wearing her cross again. Finally, in 1980, upon reaching legal adulthood, she chose to remain in the Bureau, and she became a full agent… but she still tended to lose control in stressful situation, putting at risk the lives of her colleagues. This policy frustrated her, and she left the B.P.R.D.. Then she returned. And left again. Then she returned. Between 1980 and 1994, she quit and came back for a total of twelve times. No matter how much she fought with her superiors and the other agents: apparently, she had finally found a new family she didn’t want to stay without.

Liz Sherman is a broken woman who’s slowly and laboriously putting her pieces back together, trying to forgive herself for what she is and for what she’s (unwillingly) done, and to start her life anew, albeit with all the frailty and the unbalance she’ll always carry along. She’s an extremely powerful pyrokinetic, able to create and control flames, to wrap herself in a protective fiery cocoon, to fly using fire and, after an intense training with monks who taught her how to control her abilities through meditation, even to turn her entire body into living flames; she’s also an extremely skilled hand-to-hand combatant, having been trained as an operative since she was eleven. Just as powerful as she is volatile, Liz Sherman lives her powers as a curse, a force she can barely control which determines her life and her own nature… but it’s only by embracing them fully that she can finally start that new life she’s been looking for for so long.

Langdon Everett Caul/Abraham “Abe” Sapien

Emy H wants to celebrate Guillermo Del Toro‘s victory at this year’s Oscar Night (quite late, but we don’t mind), so in the next days we’ll deal with the two franchises he’s worked with: Blade for Marvel and Hellboy for Dark Horse. You can already find some of the characters by clicking on the respective categories, but there are many remaining: let’s start with a co-protagonist in Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, the amphibious Abraham “Abe” Sapien, portrayed by the great Doug Jones (and voiced in the first one by David Hyde Pierce). In the movie, he’s an esteemed agent of B.P.R.D., who risks his life dealing with the demon Sammael. In the second one, he’s deepened a bit, as he falls in love with the Elf Princess Nuala, and ends up helping his evil brother Nuada to have her life saved. One of the best characters in the movies, he’s also one of the best in the comics, albeit quite different (to say one thing, his body is not surely “a temple” as in the films, as he shares with Hellboy his passion for cigars). Let’s see together.

Abe was born Langdon Everett Caul, and was born in the first half of the XIX Century. He lived in Littleport, Rhode Island, along with his wife Edith Howard. Langdon was a passionate scientist, a genius who wanted to know the mysteries of the world, and for this he often neglected Edith, who was emotionally unstable and fell in regular depressions. Caul’s studies brought him to the Oannes Society, a group of mystics, scientists and historians who believed that all knowledge had come from the sea in ancient times, and that it was the sea that would have given them all the answers they sought. Caul joined them, and with them he discovered an underwater temple, that contained a jellyfish-like living being, some sort of minor deity from primeval times. The deity had curled into itself in the shape of an egg, in some kind of self-hibernation, and it was found like this by the members of the Society, who decided to use it for one of their rituals. Caul brought the egg to the Society’s headquarters, in Washington D.C., under St. Trinian’s Hospital. Here, things didn’t go exactly as planned, as it wasn’t enlightenment the thing that was waiting for Caul: he was holding the egg in his hand during the ceremony, and it crumbled to dust in the middle of it. In that moment, the man witnessed a monstrous creature staring at him in the hall, but it was invisible to anyone but him: he believed it to be an evil spirit come to punish him for what he had done, but it was actually his future self’s spirit visiting his own, forgotten past. As soon as he spotted the creature, Caul started to change, as his body mutated into something different, something old: a man-fish hybrid, still in a larval state. The other scientists believed him to be Oannes, the fishman sent by the gods to deliver knowledge to humans. They locked him in a tube of water, in the lab, waiting for his body to complete its evolution. It was 1864, and the American Civil War was at its end. The Oannes Society, apparently, got involved in the murder of President Lincoln, and they had to abandon the site as they were on the run. The creature, which they named Ichtyo Sapien, remained in the underground lab for more than a century.

It was November 1978 when the water tube with the creature inside was found by a group of plumbers, still hidden beneath St. Trinian’s Hospital. The body was by then fully developed, but the workmen clearly had no idea of what they were looking at: there was just a label reading “Ichtyo Sapien. April 14, 1865“. The discovery was soon covered by the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, and the creature was taken into the organization’s lab. Uniting the last name of the creature’s species and the date reported on the label (the same of Lincoln’s assassination), Caul’s was renamed Abraham Sapien: he was still comatose, and completely unresponsive to any attempt of awakening him, so that the B.P.R.D. scientists weren’t even sure he was a sentient being. While studying him, they were about to vivisect him… luckily, with a proper dose of electroshock, Abe Sapien finally woke up. He didn’t remember anything of his past life, and didn’t even know where he came from, but he actually had memories of the time he was unconscious, discussions about his vivisection included. The experiments didn’t stop because he was vigilant, quite the opposite, they continued for a period of time that Abe would have remembered as a “nightmare”. The experiments did stop the moment one of the operative agents, Hellboy, stepped in, and ordered them to stop, feeling empathetic with the creature. Abe Sapien was let out of his tube, quite disoriented… and surprised everybody with speaking a perfectly fluent English, apparently remembering the language rather than learning it anew. Abe Sapien stayed in the Bureau, and he immediately befriended his savior, Hellboy. It was the latter who, some time later, managed to convince Professor Bruttenholm to allow Abe to accompany him and Liz Sherman in field operations, so that he could see the world outside; by June 1979, Abe Sapien had showed his prowess enough to convince Bruttenholm to make him an operative at all effects, becoming Hellboy’s usual partner. Seeing the world, Abe realized he was different from all the other people around, and he started concealing his appearance behind a large hat, sunglasses and a fake beard… but all the disguises in the world would have never answered the question about his true origins, that kept haunting him.

The late (sort of) Langdon Everett Caul is a man (sort of) with the intellect of a genius and a heart of gold, curious about everything, with an extensive knowledge about pretty much any topic, terribly insecure about his own appearance (albeit this trait gradually disappeared). As Abe Sapien, the only known Ichtyo Sapien, he’s amphibian, being able to breathe both on land and underwater, though he needs to come back in water every week; he’s a superb swimmer, as well as an excellent marksman and hand-to-hand fighter; it’s likely that his new body is simply incapable of dying, as he’s been declared dead for mortal wounds at least twice, but always healed and came back to life, and he apparently doesn’t age. Once obsessed with learning who he was before being found by B.P.R.D., the more Abe Sapien discovers about Langdon Caul, the more he thinks he’s happy being who he is now: a monster, maybe, but one with friends who love him for who he is, and with a life worth living, in which he constantly has the chance to help others.

Michael “Mike” Fallon (Accident Man)

We got a new trailer in these days as well, and one for a comic very few people know (and more for the American remake from Dark Horse than for the original Toxic! publication): Accident Man. Scott Adkins will portray the titular character, Accident Man, aka Mike Fallon. In the movie, he’ll be a hitman specialized in a very peculiar kind of murder, who starts a revenge campaign when his ex-girlfriend gets murdered, and by a member of his own team. The movie gets inspiration by the one story-arc in which Fallon doesn’t look like a complete monster, but not too much human either. Let’s meet him. And warnings: he’s no hero.

Most of Mike Fallon’s early life is secreted, as he himself takes good care of hiding personal information (he never was a good boy, anyway, and always aimed to making as more money as he could). In a way, there was little of Fallon that didn’t say “Ninenties!” all over: a Yuppie who loved fancy cars, beautiful women and, most of all, his job, that he dedicated all the possible time to. Fallon, however, wasn’t a banker or a broker, but the closest thing to an artisan still around: he was a hitman, and the best British assassin around, for what matters. In a world full of standardized killers for hire, Fallon specialized in a peculiar technique: he made every single hit look like an accident, sometimes even taking quite a great deal of time for it. His M.O. earned him the moniker “Accident Man”, and with an official alias came notoriety, fame… and money, not that he ever thought it was enough. He traveled the world to improve his style, becoming an unmatched martial artist and a master in every kind of weapon, learning physics, chemistry and a variety of other disciplines that could help him in his unique job. Either by shooting a target’s car tire with an ice bullet (so that, when the police checked it, the bullet had melted and it looked like a tragic but simple blow-out), or by loosening a heavy chandelier’s supporting bolts, or by manipulating a house’s heating system to cause the elder inhabitant a heart attack, the Accident Man always delivered, and nothing could ever lead to him. Strangely enough, he even managed to have a private life, and in particular he had a wife, Jill. At first, Jill was more than happy with all the expensive and stylish things that her husband brought home, but then something changed, mostly because of a friend of hers, Hilary. Mike and Jill started to drift apart, but he didn’t even realize it.

One day, when Fallon came back from one of his assignments, he found his wife ready to leave him: she and Hilary had become lovers, and they both were part of a feminist-ecologist group, Women Against the Rape of the Planet (WARP). A champion of empathy and caring, Fallon let her go away without even giving signs that he was noticing she was leaving. He simply dove back into his job, and earned another awful lot of money, this time having a little bit more PMT (Post-Murder Tension) to vent onto some unfortunate guys who were unlucky enough to cross his path after an assignment. He even traveled to the Far East to learn from a legendary sensei a forbidden technique, the Death Touch, a kung-fu punch that killed his victims with a time delay, something that would have clearly improved his professionalism. Then, something happened in the life of the shallow and uncaring Mike Fallon: Jill was killed in a robbery. He didn’t care for her anymore, he never did when they were living together, and surely didn’t do now that she had joined that eco-nuts group… but there was something that kept haunting him about her death, and he couldn’t come back to his job as happy and carefree as he had always been. He even completed another couple of assignments, but he just couldn’t enjoy them. Finally, he realized what was the “thing” that just didn’t fit: examining the details of the “burglary” Jill had been killed in, Fallon recognized the M.O. of two “colleagues”, Chris and Jim. Their involvement made him think that there was something big behind the killing of his ex-wife, and he had to know what in order to make that annoying voice inside him stop and regain his joy for life (and murder). To do this, however, the needed the most unlikely of the allies: Hilary, Jill’s new girlfriend, the idealist and selfless eco-feminist who was possibly the most different person from him on the entire planet…

Mike Fallon is a selfish and hedonist man, a professional completely in love with himself and his own talent, who enjoys over everything else murdering people, having sex with beautiful women, murdering people, driving beautiful cars, and murdering people. As the Accident Man, he’s an accomplished martial artist, a poet with any kind of weapon, and an expert in a variety of disciplines that make him an amateur scientist, a superb tactician, and a very unique assassin, whose every kill is planned to the detail to look like an accident. The Accident Man is a maniac, a man who loves killing and makes a true job out of it, with its own rules: never getting involved, never caring for anyone, never trusting anybody, always delivering. When tons and tons of money reward a man’s profession and his total commitment to it, there’s truly nothing more that can be asked from life.

Anung Un Rama (Hellboy)

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.

Ethan Roark Jr. (The Yellow Bastard)

yellowbastardfilmWell, I’ve finally watched Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (yes, I’m late, but in Italy distribution companies don’t believe in August), and there’s still one character that appeared in the movie, and that I didn’t write about. When Nancy Callahan finally reaches Senator Roark‘s villa, she enters the politician’s atelier, a room which shows an interesting painting, featuring a gruesome yellow guy. Roark clarifies the monster is his deceased son, who also appears in a flashback played by Nick Stahl. The character was one of the main villains of the first movie, and he was the one that gave the That Yellow Bastard episode its title. He’s portrayed as a pervert almost killed by Detective Hartigan, who later tries to claim vengeance on both him and the girl he saved, Nancy, but ends up being killed for good. In the comics, his story is pretty much the same, but let’s see together.

The main power in Basin City, and one of the greatest in the entire United States, was the Roark family, whose members gained important yellowbastardcomics1key positions in politics, economy, even religion. Ethan Jr. was born in this family, raised as the crown prince of his father’s kingdom. His father happened to be the most powerful member of the most powerful family of the State, a cruel man who had become a U.S. Senator, and who planned for his son a future as President. Junior grew up in this dream of his father, with all the self-awareness that being untouchable brought along. A young, wealthy and influential man, Ethan Jr. built for himself the public image of a playboy, a life-loving heir who enjoyed the company of women and friends. Obviously, reality was a little bit different: Roark was a murderous pedophile, a pervert who raped extremely young girls (usually not older than 10-11 years) and killed them, counting on the connivance of his father’s lackeys to make the bodies disappear and to cover everything up. Also the Police Department was on Senator Roark’s payroll, so he could be sure that nobody would have hunted him for his crimes… until he found one of the very few honest cops in town, Detective Hartigan. Despite being constantly misled by his partner, Bob, Hartigan ended up catching him with his hands in the cooking jar, as he had just kidnapped another girl, Nancy Callahan, and was about to rape and kill her as well. Hartigan cornered Roark at the docks, saved the girl, and repeatedly shot the young man, taking away his right hand, his left hear and his genitals. When he was about to deliver the finishing blow, however, he was stopped by Bob, and Roark was taken in by his father’s men. Senator Roark ordered the press to change the story, and Hartigan was depicted as the one who had killed all those girls. Meanwhile, the Senator spent much of his fortune to guarantee his son the best surgeons and doctors around.

In some years, finally Junior was back on his feet, with everything in the right place thanks to reconstructive surgery. Unfortunately, the heavy yellowbastardcomics2hormonal therapy he went through had some major side effect, such as tainting his skin in yellow, modifying his facial traits, and giving him an extremely stinking perspiration. Only one thing had kept Junior alive for all the years of rehabilitation and interventions: his deep hatred towards Hartigan, and his thirst towards the only victim who had escaped his grip, Nancy. In order to catch them both, first of all he had to make Hartigan get out of prison, where he was paying the crimes Roark committed: he started intercepting Nancy’s letters to the former detective, making him believe the girl was in danger somehow. Hartigan ended up confessing Roark’s crimes, everything in order to be allowed to get out of prison. Unable to locate Nancy, Junior followed Hartigan to Kadie’s Bar, where he finally found the girl, now 19 years old, who was working there as a stripper. Seeing the girl was alive and well, Hartigan realized he had been tricked, but it was too late: Roark now had them both, and followed them as they tried to escape. During the ride, Hartigan managed to shoot the Yellow Bastard, as he called their pursuer, but Roark survived, and reached them at Mimi’s, a motel. Roark incapacitated Hartigan, and hanged him to the ceiling fan, with only a stool to bear his weight. He meanwhile kidnapped Nancy, and brought her to the family farm, a place isolated enough in which he could claim his vengeance at peace…

Ethan Roark Jr. is a cruel sadist, a pervert who enjoys torturing, raping and killing young girls; he gets aroused by hearing the screams of pain and fear of his little preys, but he only reaches the climax of pleasure killing them. His violent tendencies are somehow justified by his father, who’s always ready to cover up everything he does, an attitude that created an unprecedented arrogance in Junior. As the Yellow Bastard, the treatments have taken a lot from him, but also gave him something in return, and Roark has his strength, durability and stamina augmented over normal levels due to the excess of testosterone. Completely deranged, absolutely cruel, Ethan Roark Jr. represents everything that is rotten and putrid in one of the most corrupted cities in the world.

Bob

bobfilmTime for the last character appeared in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (the pic sucks, but I couldn’t find anything better): Bob, portrayed in the film by Jeremy Piven. He appears as the partner of poor Mort, who loses his mind because of Ava Lord‘s seduction and eventually arrives to the point of killing his own partner, who had understood what the woman was hiding behind the official story of her husband’s death. The character already appeared in the first Sin City, this time portrayed by Michael Madsen: in here, he was a crooked cop who betrayed his partner John Hartigan, shooting him and framing him for the murder and rape of several girls. He then somewhat repented of what he had done, and he was the one to pick Hartigan up from the prison when he came out, years after. Apart from the last part, Bob’s role in the comics is practically identical, but let’s see together.

If someone had to do a rank of the most honest Police Departments in the world, Basin City Police Department surely wouldn’t feature in the first places; probably, it wouldn’t feature at all. With all the officers and the agents selling themselves to the best bidders, the policemen had to chose between the local Mob boss, Herr Wallenquist, or the Roark family. Bob chose the second ones, and since he was a young cop he worked with a double pay slip. He quickly rose to the rank of detective, and was partnered with an experienced officer near retirement: John Hartigan, an old-style scarred detective. Unfortunately for Bob, Hartigan was also one of the very few honest policemen in the entire city. In a way or the other, Bob and Hartigan managed to get along, especially because, corruption bobcomics1apart, Bob was able to be a cunning and professional detective. The point of rift between the two arrived when a serial killer started raping and murdering quite a number of prepubescent girls: the command ordered Bob and Hartigan to investigate, but only following the directive given by Senator Roark. While Hartigan was sincerely trying to find the killer, Bob, paid by Roark, hid the evidence that pointed to Roark’s pervert son Junior. With or without the help of his partner, Hartigan managed to corner Roark Jr., and when Bob tried to stop him once again, he knocked him out with a punch. When Bob woke up, he followed his partner, and found him towering over Roark: he had shot him thrice, taking off his left ear, his genitalia and his right hand. Following his investment, Bob shot Hartigan three times, but the old cop didn’t even fall, and tried to shoot Bob in return: at that point, the crooked cop shot his old friend five other times, missing his heart by pure chance (Hartigan had broken his glasses with the previous punch). He then proceeded to call some help for Roark and to arrest his barely living partner, framing him for the rich boy’s crimes. He never saw John Hartigan again.

Some sort of cosmic irony declared that Bob’s new partner would have been Mort, Hartigan’s best friend, and the second honest cop in Basin City Police Department. The relation with Mort was even more complicated than the one with Hartigan, since Mort, who kept his contacts with his friend, guessed what had happened during the Roark affair. In a way or the other, the two of them managed to work together, until they received an important assignment: billionaire Damian Lord had been killed, and his wife Ava claimed the murderer was a jealous ex-lover, bobcomics2Dwight McCarthy. While working on the case, it became clear to Bob that Ava was hiding something, and he started suspecting her. Mort, however, had been seduced by the widow, and was incapable of thinking clearly. Whenever Bob tried to share his suspects about Ava, Mort reacted violently, and when Mort started talking nonsense about going to the Old Town to kill McCarthy, Bob became sure his partner had been compromised by the woman. Determined to arrest the real murderer (Ava) and to save the innocent (Dwight), Bob tried to turn Mort in, meanwhile attempting to dissuade him from going to the dangerous Old Town. Mort, now completely mad, shot Bob with a single bullet to his head, and then proceeded to kill himself. Ironically enough, one of the most corrupted cops in all Sin City had died because, for once, he was trying to do the right thing.

Bob is a smart and calculating man, always trying to get the major profit from even the hardest situations. Trained as a police officer, Bob doesn’t excel in sniping or hand-to-hand combat, having always preferred to rely on his brain rather than his brawn. The only morality Bob accepts is convenience, and he is ready and eager to do anything for anyone, if that means some interest for him.