Hellboy is one of the most beloved characters in all of underground comicdom. With a career spanning almost 80 years (20 real-time storytelling) and including numerous spin-offs and one-shots, creator Mike Mignola and his cohorts at Dark Horse have created all manner of weird and exciting enemies and allies for the big red guy. Inspired by folklore and mythology as well as creations from Mignola’s own warped mind, the pages of “Hellboy” and peripheral series like “B.P.R.D.” are full of some really weird stuff. Vampires, witches, demons, gods: if you’ve read about it in some dusty old tome, then Hellboy has probably at least said “son of a…” in its presence.
Now that the word is official that the third Hellboy movie is never going to happen and Hellboy’s story has been, for the most part, concluded, it seems like as good a time as any to look back and gather up the weirdest and most wonderful monsters that Hellboy has met over the years. And what better form for such a memorial than an immortally entertaining listicle?
Because normal human minions just couldn’t have fit his mad-science aesthetic, Nazi scientist and head in a jar, Herman Von Klempt, created the Kriegaffen (German for war apes), a series of at least 10 cybernetically augmented gorillas. Each ape has implants on their heads and body, enhancing their physical and mental abilities, as well as giving them a kind of Frankenstein’s Monster look. Their hands have also been replaced with robotic prosthetics which enhance their strength and punching ability.
The Kriegaffe made their first appearance in 94’s “World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator,” in which Hellboy rescues a damsel in distress from Von Klempt and his Kriegaffe “Brutus,” destroying the ape’s hands and burning down the Nazi’s lab. Their first in-universe appearance of the Kriegaffe is In the excellent “BPRD: 1946” where Professor Bruteenholm gets in on the monkey-bashing action when he takes out two of the first Kriegaffe aboard a rocket mid blast off. In 2001’s “Conqueror Worm,” Kriegaffe #10 captures Hellboy and tortures him until the power goes out, giving Hellboy the chance to take his revenge on the “goddamn Nazi-Frankenstein monkey.”
14. OGDRU JAHAD
A trademark Mignola combination of Lovecraftian Elder One, real world ancient mythology and the Biblical Dragon of Revelation, the Ogdru Jahad is the big bad evil that hangs over the series and the character’s life. Lifted directly from the Bible’s “Book of Revelations,” the Ogdru Jahad is actually seven separate entities from the beginning of the earth that really don’t have anything better to do than kill all of mankind and remake the world just how they like it. Thankfully they were imprisoned far away and long ago by the Watchers of the Earth.
Real long story short, Hellboy’s right hand (for those who may be directionally challenged, that’s the big stone one) is the key to freeing these apocalypse monsters from their prison and bringing an end to the world. This is what makes him so popular with all the Nazis, demons, cults and other ne’er do wells he’s come across in his life.
13. FROG MONSTERS
These demonic frogs are the “final race of men” created by the Ogdru Jahad (and their kids the Ogdru Hem) to populate the planet after they totally destroy everything. It doesn’t seem like frogs do all that well in hellish landscapes, but these telepathic, bipedal amphibians are resourceful enough to have plagued Hellboy and his friends at the B.P.R.D. since they murdered Hellboy’s adoptive father, Professor Bruttenholm, in 1994’s “Seed of Destruction.” Blessed by their imprisoned masters with super strength and gross prehensile tongues, Hellboy got his butt kicked pretty hard in his first Grog Monster encounter. He and his pals Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman eventually prevailed against the Frog Monsters and their tentacle monster boss, Sadu-Hem, or so it would dramatically seem.
12. CONQUEROR WORM
The pages of “Hellboy” are no stranger to cosmic horror, but perhaps one of the weirdest monsters from beyond the stars is the Conqueror Worm. Featured in the story of the same name from 2001, the Worm is one of the 369 spawn of the Ogdru Jahad which the Nazis made contact with during the second World War. Naturally, being Nazis, they launched a space pod with a dead body in it to meet up with the “space ghost.” The Worm possessed the dead body and 60 years later, the pod returned at the behest of everyone’s favorite head in a jar, Herman Von Klempt.
The Conqueror Worm resembles a monstrous caterpillar mixed with a Lovecraftian tardigrade and spends most of its time on earth creating frog monsters, eating frog monsters, and generally being a jerk before eventually being defeated by Hellboy, Roger the Homunculus, the ghost of a guy named Lobster Johnson and an alien.
11. GRUAGACH OF LOUGH LEANE
Gruagach is an Irish fairy and one of Hellboy’s oldest enemies. Gruagach had a rough life before meeting up with Hellboy and things didn’t really improve any afterward. In 1959, during the Hellboy story “The Corpse,” Hellboy rescues a baby girl who Gruagach was impersonating. After having his grand scheme of being setup for life by Hellboy, Gruagach swore revenge. Gruagach releases the boar-headed giant Grom who promptly eats Gruagach and goes about smashing on Hellboy. During the fight, Hellboy ends up shrinking Grom with a magic relic before the now not-so-big giant runs away.
Gruagach eventually possesses the weakened body of Grom and swears even more vengeance against Hellboy. And he gets it, kind of. His revenge comes at huge cost to both himself and his people, as seen in “Darkness Calls” and “The Wild Hunt” where he ends up releasing a very mean lady, The Queen of Blood, and sealing the fate of the fairy folk.
10. HECATE (ILSA HAUPSTEIN)
What do you get when you mix a Gorgon (think Medusa) Queen of Witches with a resurrected Nazi scientist, and an iron maiden used by Elizabeth Bathory? The result is a very scary lady. During “Hellboy’s” second story arc, 1996’s “Wake the Devil,” big red dukes it out with an ancient entity called Hecate. During that fight, Nazi scientist, vampire lover and Rasputin follower, Ilsa Haupstein, willingly entombs herself in an iron maiden that was used to murder countless women by the infamous Countess Elizabeth Bathory, all because Rasputin says it’s a good idea.
After Hellboy defeats Hecate and her vampire son, a tiny bit of Hecate’s soul possesses the iron maiden and morphs into a half-snake, half-iron maiden that would look totally awesome on a heavy metal album cover. Later, during “Conqueror Worm,” Hecate destroys the ghost for getting mouthy with her. Hecate becomes a background character for most of the rest of the series and even correctly predicts the death of Hellboy in his war against the new Witch Queen.
9. BABA YAGA
While we’re on the subject of weird witches, it doesn’t get much weirder than the Baba Yaga. Lifted directly from Russian folklore, the Baba Yaga is famous for her cannibalism of children, her hobby of counting dead men’s fingers and her chicken-legged house. A peripheral character in many a “Hellboy” storyline, she is closely associated with the mad Russian monk Rasputin and is often seen scheming and prophesying behind the scenes. Her showdown with Hellboy in 1964 during the story “The Baba Yaga,” from the 1998 collection “The Chained Coffin and Others,” left her one eyeball short and severely weakened, forcing the witch to flee the real world.
During the stories “The Storm and The Fury,” the Baba Yaga offers to help Hellboy defeat the Witch Queen Nimue as long as he gives her one of his eyes as repayment for the one she took from him. He obliges and looks a lot cooler for it.
Another monster taken from classical mythology, the Kelpie is a Scottish water monster that takes the shape of a horse to lure hapless hippophiles (people who like horses) to their watery death. In the aptly titled Hellboy short “The Kelpie,” we only get one panel showing the monster, but that panel is enough to make sure you never go anywhere near water, horses or Scotland ever again.
Released as a short companion to 2015’s “The Phantom Hand,” the story sees Professor Bruttenholm regale Hellboy with a story about a college friend who was killed by the awful equestrian. After deciding to check out a old haunted church (always a good idea), young Bruttenholm and friends encounter the Kelpie, but not before one of the budding paranormal investigators is drowned by the thing and then put on display for his friends to find. Best of all, Bruttenholm lies to the poor kid’s mother that he died in a swimming accident. Classy Trevor.
7. THE CROOKED MAN
Hands down one of the most unsettling tales from the pages of “Hellboy,” thanks in large part to Richard Corben’s illustrations, is the three-issue miniseries “The Crooked Man.” The story takes place in 1958 Appalachia where Hellboy is investigating some witchy business. During the investigation, he finds an empty sack of skin and learns more about the history of witches in the area, and the devil’s representative in the mountains, The Crooked Man.
Originally a wicked son of a gun named Jeremiah Watkins, The Crooked Man was one of the first settlers in the Virginia Appalachian region and got rich off the suffering of others. After his death, Watkins was sent back to earth by the devil as a collector of owed souls. No word on what sort of benefits The Crooked Man gets for his years of sinful service but one thing is for sure, it definitely doesn’t include visits to the chiropractor.
6. DARYL THE WENDIGO
Daryl Tynon was just a regular guy who lived a rustic life with his family until he was possessed by a cannibal spirit monster that totally ruined all that for him. Transformed into a giant monster with a big red beard and a hankering for human flesh, Daryl forgot who he was and went nuts for a little while until he met up with Hellboy and Abe Sapien.
Finding out that his family thought he was dead, and not wanting to freak them out, Daryl willingly went to the B.P.R.D. and turned himself in to their custody. After some mysterious deaths at the B.P.R.D. headquarters, Daryl gets blamed and ends up living in the wilderness of Colorado. It’s there that he runs into an old friend from the B.P.R.D., Ben Daimio, who turns out is actually responsible for the deaths since he is also possessed by a Native American monster.
Ben Daimio was a U.S. Marine who paid a visit to Bolivia. During the mission, Ben and his squad were killed by a jaguar cult. However, just before his body was about to be autopsied, Daimio woke up. After his resurrection, Ben started to work for the B.P.R.D. and even came to lead the field team for a while. Disfigured by the attack that killed him, Ben Daimio looks pretty scary, but his scars aren’t anything compared to what he turns into at night.
The deaths at B.P.R.D. HQ were actually caused by Daimio’s ferocious alter-ego as a Werejaguar. Possessed during his time in Bolivia, Daimio tried to keep the monster suppressed, but after a rocket attack on his room at the B.P.R.D. during “B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground,” the beast had come out and tried to kill Liz Sherman and other B.P.R.D. vets. Fortunately, he is eventually taken down by Daryl The Wendigo.
Hellboy has seen, fought, and cursed at monsters all over the world, but very few are as gross and weird as when Hellboy visited Malaysia and met up with the Penanggalan. Set during 1958, the story was collected in the 2004 collection “The Troll Witch and Others.” Hellboy walks with a small Malay girl who tells him the story of a woman who was scared so badly that her head and organs shot out of her body and flew through the sky, becoming a demon. The demon had been placated by people for years, but now has returned to torment villagers with her grossness.
The girl leads Hellboy to a cave where, surprise, she’s the real Penaggalan and attacks Hellboy, tying him up with her intestines. The grotesque nature of the monster, a floating head with entrail tentacles, combined with Mignola’s trademark art style, makes the Penanggalan one of the most memorable and creepy monsters despite its all-too-brief appearance.
Originally published as a one-shot to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in 2010, “Hellboy in Mexico (or A Drunken Blur)” is a story about Hellboy’s five-month-long “drunken weekend” in Mexico during 1956. Told as a flashback while Hellboy and Abe Sapien are waiting for a ride, Hellboy arrives in Mexico to combat supernatural activity and joins up with three divinely inspired luchador brothers. The quartet battles monsters and drinks their way across the country, and Hellboy is finally challenged by the vampire luchador Camazotz to a solo battle.
Camazotz is originally a bat god from Mayan mythology, but his representation as a luchador is weird and hilarious and, in true Hellboy fashion, not without a tragic twist. During the wrestling match, Hellboy discovers that the bat luchador is actually one of his wrestler buddies who had gone missing and turned into a vampire. He is forced to impale his friend on a wooden stake, which kills Camazotz but also lifts the curse.
Anung Un Rama, The Right Hand of Doom and The Rightful King of England are just some of his titles. Hellboy has been many things to many entities across the years, but has always lived by his own definition of himself. He was brought to Earth by the mad monk Rasputin, but raised by his adoptive human father who was also founder of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense.
Since his “birth” in 1944, Hellboy has learned that even though he is the son of a demon (pretty obvious because of his red skin, horns, and tail) he also had a human mother, who was actually a witch descended from King Arthur. His mother’s ancestry, coupled with Hellboy’s unwavering commitment to not bring about the end of the world, is what makes him one of the weirdest monsters in his own stories. All that paternal hellishness is balanced out with a noble influence on his maternal side. Too bad it’s all gone to hell now.
1. THE VISITOR
During the story of Hellboy’s “Seed of Destruction,” there are plenty of wild and crazy moments that introduce you to the weirdness that readers would come to love and expect from the series. But during the climax between Hellboy and Rasputin, something really weird happened. As the cocoons that hold the big bad Ogdru Jahad are rattled by Rasputin, we see a race of weird aliens that comment on the happenings and seem totally out of place. Later in the series, we find out that one of the aliens was actually sent to earth in 1944 in a preemptive attempt to kill Hellboy as he arrived to prevent our hero from one day unleashing the beast. However, the Visitor decided to stay the execution at the very last second.
For more than 20 years, Hellboy fans have wondered what the hell is up with these weird aliens. Dark Horse’s new series, “The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed,” is aiming to explain exactly that. Now that Hellboy’s story has gone to hell, it sure would be nice to get some closure regarding these guys, the weirdest in a universe of weird.
Which of these monsters do you think was the weirdest? Tell us in the comments!
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