"Hellboy" comics are primarily three things: characters and legends snatched out of ancient myths, folklore and fairy tales reincarnated in that gorgeous minimalist Mike Mignola style, and Hellboy yelling "Boom!" as he punches these mythological staples to death with The Right Hand of Doom. Mix in some impalement, talking animals and monkeys packing heat, and you've got some of the most beautifully insane and magically bloody fights to grace comics.
Three primary factors were considered to rank these monster mashes: the quality of the monster involved, how much damage Hellboy and his foe inflict upon one another, and the overall significance of the fight in the comics. If you're unsure if a fight qualifies, ask yourself the following: Does Hellboy say "Ah Crap"? What about "Son of a --"? If he says both, then it definitely qualifies. Additionally, in the event that there's ever a third Hellboy movie, any of these monster mashes would be lovely additions to the silver screen.
Camazotz is a Mayan bat god. He possesses the body of Hellboy's luchador best friend during a five-month-long "drunken weekend" in Mexico in the appropriately titled “Hellboy in Mexico” by Mike Mignola, Richard Corben and Dave Stewart. In this epic, Hellboy befriends a trio of luchador brothers who were told by the Virgin Mary to quit wrestling and take up monster fighting. The youngest brother, and Hellboy's closest friend of the group, however, falls when he is mobbed by vampires. This is not the end of the youngest brother's journey, as he is possessed by Camazotz, an actual Mayan bat god. Naturally, Camazotz challenges Hellboy to undead wrestle in a Mayan pyramid.
Don't think for a second that this a traditional Greco-Roman match, for this is lucha libre. We're talking four ring posts, ropes, and padded turnbuckles in an ancient Mesoamerican stepped pyramid. Mummies and skeletons make up the audience of this necro-wrestling match, with the fight culminating in Camazotz ripping off his mask to reveal his horrid man-bat visage. It’s a fight that is as amazing at it is ridiculous, a.k.a. why "Hellboy" comics are so amazing.
14 THE VAMPIRE OF PRAGUE
You can’t have a list of bloody fights without devoting at least one entry to a bloodsucker, and when it comes to vampires you can’t beat eponymous plasma fiend from “The Vampire of Prague” by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart. Originally living in Prague during plague times, the verger of St. Peter’s finds himself resorting to playing cards with the dead, since there is no one left to play with. For disturbing the dead, the verger is cursed to haunt Prague forever unless one of his victims can beat him at his own game. Hellboy realizes that he has the winning hand, right as he tricks Praguey to go out into the sunlight.
Fortunately for us in “Hellboy in Hell: The Death Card” by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart, The Vampire of Prague (now technically The Vampire of Hell) is a sore loser returning for a second hand. Freed from his curse, The Vampire could have lived wherever he wanted, however he sees the advantages of being a vampire living in the absolute night that is Hell. It’s a fun whirlwind fight that takes us throughout Hell’s forgotten cities, pulling in random ghouls before everything just sort of explodes.
13 KING VOID’S HOUND
In “King Void” by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart, Hellboy has been tasked to assist B.P.R.D. member Edmond Aickman in Norway with an investigation involving King Void, a flying huntsman cursed to hunt every night. Aickman has struck a deal with King Void however, planning to utilize Hellboy’s strength for his own gain. It’s a simple task: look after one of King Void’s unruly hounds for the night, and the duplicitous Aickman will be rewarded justly. This hound, who is clearly a wolf, proves your expectations wrong by morphing into a werewolf and taking some hefty chunks out of Hellboy. Then the werewolf-hound levels up, shifting into a Viking Berserker before leaving Hellboy in a pool of blood.
Hellboy is just absolutely overpowered in this fight, with no back-up whatsoever. Considering how King Void shows up just as his hound was about to tear into Aickman, we also know that this was a one-sided fight that lasted all night. But rest assured that everyone got their just rewards, as the gold coins that the King Void spits out burn a hole through Aickman’s hands, turning into mere pebbles once they touch the ground.
12 THE WOLVES OF SAINT AUGUST
The Wolves of Saint August from "The Wolves of Saint August" by Mike Mignola and James Sinclair, are the inhabitants of a village suffering from a curse. The village's denizens are forced to live out every one of their seventh years as wolves, but retaining the minds of men so that they are fully aware of their miserable existence. It’s a tragic backstory with hauntingly beautiful artwork, especially that one panel of a wolf-headed little girl asking Hellboy and B.P.R.D. spectral expert Kate Corrigan why God hates her, but let's not forget that this is a fight between Hellboy and ghost-werewolves!
The highlight of this lycan-phantasm brawl is specifically William, the sole survivor of the cursed St. August royal family, and an honest to God alpha werewolf ghost who Hellboy manages to beat to death with a long iron cross. “The Wolves of Saint August” is a short Hellboy story that manages to pack more horror and action within just a few pages than you would normally only find in most fully-fledged story arcs.
Now, Hellboy fights Hecate, the great mythological lady and everything, on numerous occasions throughout the entirety of the “Hellboy” series. We had to give the nod however to their first fight in a Nazi castle during “Hellboy: Wake The Devil” by Mike Mignola, James Sinclair and Dave Stewart, where Hecate severely underestimates Hellboy's ability to punch things really hard. The cherry on top? Hellboy planted a large amount of explosives in the castle, with a countdown timer that was quickly running out.
It’s a classic fight between Hellboy and mythic snake-woman, but presented in one of the series’ most Hollywood-style set pieces. After trading blows, Hellboy impales Hecate on a spear, using their momentum to crash through the walls. Hit by sunlight, Hecate perishes, bursting into a murder of crows just as Hellboy’s bomb explodes. One iron maiden and a sacrificed Nazi lady later, and Hecate returns, chewing on Hellboy so hard that he goes on a spirit quest. When Hellboy awakens, Hecate is nowhere to be seen, with Hellboy remarking the experience as bizarre. We can only believe the same thing, but it’s entirely likely that was just Hellboy briefly dying, again.
10 KRIEGAFFE NUMBER 10
For our tenth greatest fight we have Kriegaffe No. 10, the tenth in the line of cybernetically enhanced Nazi gorillas -- or as Hellboy would put it, a "Goddamn Nazi-Frankenstein Monkey!" Howling in from “Hellboy: Conqueror Worm" by Mike Mignola, Kriegaffe No. 10 hails from a long line of talking Nazi gorillas who don't know when to quit, like an evil version of Harambe. Seriously, Hellboy killed Kriegaffe No. 9 by lighting it on fire, yet that doesn't deter floating Nazi head in a jar, Herman van Klempt, from giving the whole cyborg Nazi gorilla passion project a tenth try.
Part of what makes this fight so good is how hilarious it is. By the transitive property of equality, Hellboy has demonstrated that he can take on a cyborg Nazi gorilla, and yet Kriegaffe —meaning “war apes” in German — pursues Hellboy relentlessly, with Hellboy getting increasingly frustrated at the xenophobic robot ape's refusal to die. You can't help but laugh when the horrible racist gorilla pleads for mercy and Hellboy just tells it to shut up so that he can continue to punch it to death. Kriefgaffe No. 10 specifically gets the #10 spot because how could we not?
Taking place in what will later be known as “The Cavendish Hall Incident” in “Hellboy: Seed of Destruction” by Mike Mignola and John Bryne, the Russian mystic Rasputin is Hellboy’s original nemesis, as well as Hellboy’s most infamous and hardest to kill foe, hence his inclusion in this list.
Even though Rasputin is one of Hellboy’s most notable antagonists, the reason this fight ranks so low is because technically, Hellboy only gets the assist for the kill. Sure, Hellboy shoots Rasputin in the face, but being historically hard to kill, Rasputin quickly recovers. It is actually gentleman merman Abe Sapien who saves the day, impaling Rasputin with a harpoon, stopping Rasputin’s summoning ritual. As pyrokinetic Liz Sherman brings down Cavendish Hall in flames, Rasputin tells Hellboy that if he dies, Hellboy will never discover his true purpose. Hellboy is all “LOL OK,” crushing Rasputin’s skull with the Right Hand of Doom before escaping. When Rasputin’s ghost swears revenge in “Hellboy: Wake The Devil” by Mike Mignola, James Sinclair and Dave Stewart, he focuses on Abe Sapien, bearing a flaming wound on his chest — a constant reminder of that one awesome time Abe harpooned a wizard/historical Russian figure.
8 THE HEDGEHOG
Originally appearing as a comic relief character, The Hedgehog is Queen Nimue's recently promoted general, who is literally a talking hedgehog. Blessed by his queen with the mark of Queen Mab's blood, The Hedgehog's cuteness is twisted to hardened muscle, rippling sinew and a pretty dope helmet. The Hedgehog shows us his final form in “Hellboy: The Storm" by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo, making his introduction by charging into Hellboy's speeding car. Hedgehog also demonstrates why he is typically shown carrying a spear, impaling Hellboy all the way through with a particularly large one. This isn't Hellboy's first impalement however, as he snaps the spear in half, granting Hellboy enough freedom of movement to slice through The Hedgehog's shining armor with Excalibur.
The Hedgehog ranks so high because he's a joke character turned into the main antagonist's great and terrible champion. The Hedgehog's death is bittersweet since, once his soul slips away, Queen Mab's magic departs as well, leaving behind the Hedgehog's cute corpse. Hellboy pays his respects, saying "You were one tough monkey. I’ll give you that.”
7 SAINT LEONARD WORM
In “The Nature of The Beast” by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart, Hellboy has been hired by the Osiris Club to slay a dragon known as The St. Leonard Worm. In reality, the dragon is more of a big crocodile thing. Likewise, this dragon slaying quest is in actuality an Osiris Club test. Observing Hellboy from a crystal ball, the Osiris Club comments on the brawl as Hellboy struggles to hold his own against The Worm. Ultimately, The Worm constricts Hellboy around a stone statue of the original St. Leonard, slowly crushing Hellboy to death. Literally, an Osiris Club seer reports that Hellboy has been crushed to death. Suddenly, the statue cracks in half, and the stone sword that it had been holding falls, driving straight through the Worm’s head.
This fight is significant because it establishes two major things: first, despite his best efforts to live as a man, Hellboy is not one, as death wouldn't take him. Second, Hellboy’s blood sprouts white lilies when it touches the ground, a sign that despite Hellboy’s lack of humanity, he is of good nature. So we must ask: was Hellboy saved by shoddy statue-work, or divine intervention?
6 THE NAMELESS CAPTAINS
Somewhere in Hell there stands three demon captains. They had names, but cannot remember them -- lost without their respective lords who had been betrayed by their own soldiers and slaves. Nearly every lord and prince of Hell has met with a similar fate, save for a meager handful holed up in Beelzebub’s castle — the last bastion of the damned. The Captains seek sanctuary, however they are aware that their former Lords were enemies of Beelzebub. To earn a place in his court, The Captains will need to make an offering, and there’s no better gift than Hellboy, the monster who brought about Hell’s end.
The trio attacks an exhausted Hellboy, quickly gaining the upper hand. A “BOOM” sounds with each blow, as Hellboy is run through with two swords that pin him to a tree. Before the killing blow is delivered, Hellboy is saved by his estranged Demon wife. Hellboy admits that he was curious what would happen if he dies again, reflecting how tired he is of fighting, of avoiding fate. This may as well serve as Hellboy’s last words, as he realizes that in order to start a new life, he must first end his old one.
5 LEVIATHAN AND BEHEMOTH
“Hellboy in Hell” #10 by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart is the last Hellboy tale told to us by one of the last devils, blinded by the events he has just witnessed. As the last band of Hell’s princes and their would-be slaves convene in Beelzebub’s castle, they discuss recruiting Pluto from beneath Hell as a last resort. only for their final communion to be interrupted by a fully diabolic Hellboy. As tall as a mountain engulfed in flames, Hellboy embraces the full might of his destructive potential to wipe away the last remnants of Hell, unleashing Hell’s former slaves to tear apart Hell’s old masters. From the seas Leviathan rises, and from the shadows the Behemoth emerges, getting into a quick Kaiju-Fight with Hellboy before he burns them to ash.
The onslaught is over as quickly as it began, as this fully demonic Hellboy snaps off his horns, vanishing in a flash and blinding the last witness to his final fight. The brevity of the event just makes this finale more impactful —no secret plots, no hidden bosses, just Hellboy ending it all.
Koshchei, also known as Koshchei The Deathless, gets his title from the fact that his soul is inside an egg, inside a duck, inside a rabbit, inside a goat. The Baba Yaga has hidden this goat so Koshchei can't be killed. "We'll see," says Hellboy in response. In “Hellboy: Darkness Calls” by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo, Koschei has been hired by The Baba Yaga to kill Hellboy, or at the very least take his eye. During the fight, Hellboy manages to impale Koshchei and decapitate him -- only for Koshchei's body to catch his head before it hits the ground and jam it back on again.
Koshchei ranks so high because he is a foe that cannot be stopped by traditional means. It's a fight of relative deathlessness, as a desperate Hellboy throws his secret weapon -- a comb from Hellboy's recently departed friend, Vasilisa -- clinking against Koshchei's head. Suddenly a great forest emerges, sprouting up and growing through a still very much deathless, but certainly not painless, Koshchei. The Baba Yaga resorts to making out with Koshchei's soul-goat to buff him into a giant fiery form, causing Koshchei’s soul to burn out as he offers Hellboy the gift of death.
3 BOX FULL OF EVIL
We’re just going to count the entire tale of “Box Full of Evil” by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart for this entry because every panel is glorious. In this tale, the warlock Igor Bromhead binds Hellboy by speaking his title “Anung Un Rama,” giving Bromhead power over Hellboy and causing his horns to grow back, with The Crown of The Apocalypse reappearing as well. A devil, Ualac, who had been trapped in the titular box, seizes the Crown, gaining power and offering Bromhead one wish. His wish? To beat Hellboy to death, which is granted. Using a pair of iron tongs designed to hold devils, the warlock proceeds to beat Hellboy for an entire night. Meanwhile, an unconscious Hellboy is visited by a goblin, who clarifies that Anung Un Rama refers to the individual who wears a crown of flame, a crown no longer in Hellboy’s possession. With the spell broken, Hellboy snaps off his horns and gores Ualac, a move so sweet it was cribbed for the movie.
We haven’t even gotten to the best part of this story, and possibly the three best panels in comic history: Abe and Hellboy meet a monkey — who’s got a gun!
2 THE GIANTS
In "The Wild Hunt" by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo, Hellboy is invited by the eponymous Wild Hunt to hunt a group of giants. Upon reaching a bridge, The Wild Hunt betrays Hellboy, knocking him off said bridge and impaling him with an electrified harpoon. Incidentally, you’ll notice this entry isn't titled “The Wild Hunt.” The group should have waited until *after* the hunt to betray the professional monster-hunter, as the giants flank The Wild Hunt before they can deliver the finishing blow. The giants slaughter/devour the entirety of the group, horses included. Hellboy is only spared thanks to an invisibility flower from Morgan Le Fay's songbird.
When Hellboy awakes, he does not escape, picking a fight with the giants and swapping out the flower for a splinter of a gigantic sword. By the end of the second massacre, only Hellboy remains, his horns regrown and a crown of flames floating above his brow. This is a rare display of Hellboy’s dark side, joyfully giving into bloodlust to survive against overwhelming odds in a fight he invoked. Hellboy snaps off his horns in disgust, later refusing to wield Excalibur in fear of his destructive potential wielding history's greatest sword.
Nimue, the former Queen of Witches, is the current Queen of Blood and vessel for part of the Ogdru Jahad, heretofore known as The Dragon. This is the the destined start of Ragna Rok, where “The Champion of Man will battle the dragon...and that will be the end."
Taking place in “Hellboy: The Fury” by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart, the war between good and evil has already been decided. The armies of apocalypse and its four horsemen have already descended upon Earth. The rejuvenated George Washbrook and his army of Britain's best men have already been vanquished. Hellboy can't win, but he's not going to go out without a fight. A recurring theme of “Hellboy” comics is saying "screw you" to destiny and "here's a big stone hand to the face instead." The Dragon claims he cannot be fought like a typical beast, yet the fight devolves into Hellboy's speciality: punching monsters. The fight isn't about Hellboy stopping the apocalypse, but fighting to buy the world some time. You'll notice however that this entry isn't “The Dragon,” for once the beast is slain, Nimue's spirit reemerges, ripping out Hellboy's heart and dragging him to Hell.
Did we leave out your favorite bloody Hellboy brawl? Can you think of another time where Hellboy sorta-kinda-maybe died? Let us know in the comments!