The Right Hand of Doom. For many, this was the entry point into the Hellboy universe. The origins of Hellboy himself and his relationship with Rasputin and the end of the world. A short, dark story of Hellboy’s life and the potential he carried within him. The most memorable panels were recreated in the 2004 film, where Hellboy broke his own horns off to defy his supposed destiny. This is how the Hellboy Omnibus Volume 2: Strange Places begins. What better place to start?
Much like its predecessor volume, Strange Places goes back to the beginning of Hellboy’s journey, giving an extensive look at the stories that shaped the 25 year journey of Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and the rest of the B.P.R.D. Included in this nearly 420 page collection are the aforementioned The Right Hand of Doom, Box Full of Evil, Being Human, Conqueror Worm, The Third Wish, and The Island, all written and illustrated by creator Mike Mignola. It also includes Into the Silent Sea, the only story in the collection not drawn by Mignola, but instead, but co-writer Gary Gianni.
Conqueror Worm is the longest single book in the volume, featuring the second appearance of Lobster Johnson, a vigilante hero from the 1930s who battled Nazis during World War II and beyond. His first appearance was in the back-up feature A Killer in My Skull from the 1999 trade Box Full of Evil in 1999. The Worm itself will feel familiar to fans of the original Hellboy film as well, since it was borrowed into that story as one of the Ogdru Jahad, the giant, evil space gods bent on man’s destruction. Also, it has a Nazi scientist who is only a head and his giant Frankenstein ape pet. If that description doesn’t make you want to pick up a book, I’m not sure what will.
Into the Silent Sea is a very different sort of Hellboy story, set after his time with the B.P.R.D., but the stark contrast in the design and art is what makes it stand out. I am reminded heavily of the old illustrated editions of Treasure Island or the like. Clearly meant to evoke that old adventure story rather than just the weird fiction of Poe or Lovecraft, Mignola ends the dread tale with a quote from Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
As with all of the Hellboy Omnibuses…Omnibi…Omnibuses, Strange Places is a trip through the history of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., exploring the weird and wonderful world created by Mike Mignola to shadow our own and expose some of the potential for both darkness and light within each of us.