Hellboy tells the story of an unlikely hero who fights against the forces of darkness, even though he looks like he would be a better fit fighting alongside them. In this graphic novel, the protagonist searches for clues about who he is, while foiling the villain’s evil plans. The author (and illustrator), Mike Mignola, packs the pages of this book with monsters, mayhem, and action. Since this is the first of a set of reprinted volumes, it deals heavily with the origin of the hero. As such, some of the other characters, who seem quite intriguing even with the small parts they play, don’t get as much time on the page as a reader might like, and the reader doesn’t really get to know Hellboy himself very well, either.
Overall, the story is good but does not have much depth. It has just enough detail to make the reader feel like they are skimming the surface of a much bigger plot. This makes the narrative feel rushed, but it also leaves open the possibility that some of that depth is simply being saved for later installments. This graphic novel is good, but it seems likely that what follows may be great.
Profanity/Language: 2 religious exclamations; 12 mild obscenities; 1 scatological word.
Note: God is mentioned as a being a few times (not tallied). A character is named “Hellboy”, and his name is used dozens of times (not tallied).
Violence/Gore: A character examines an animal skull; few reports of a deaths; a picture shows a shipwreck with sailors jumping overboard; a few reports of past events causing many deaths; a door is broken down; skulls and other bones are discovered; a character is grappled by a monster; report of past blood sacrifices; a character finds another character dead; a report of past deaths with a skeleton illustrated; a few references in chants to “spilling blood”; an explosion without injury; a few illustrations between chapters show characters fighting monsters; a few fights with fists, explosives, and natural weapons in which a creature is killed; a character shoots and wounds another; a fight with fists and wrestling; a building is destroyed; melee fight in which a character and a creature are killed (not gory, but bone is shown); a few bodies are discovered with wounds from a monster attack; a fight with weapons and magic in which a character is impaled by a spear with blood shown and engulfed by an explosion; a few fights in which non-human characters are punched, kicked thrown around, impaled by sharp objects, or blown up; a disembodied head is kept in a jar.
Sex/Nudity: A woman is shown bound to a table wearing a revealing dress that covers as much as a one-piece bathing suit; a mural of a stylized naked woman is shown, with all the private areas obscured by the character who is standing in front of the mural.
Mature Subject Matter:
Nazism; war (World War II); death (family member); child molesting is mentioned in the introduction in a sarcastic joke.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
A character smokes cigarettes; a sign advertises cigars.