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How To Start Reading Hellboy [Guide]
Indie Comics Reading Recommendations

How To Start Reading Hellboy [Guide]

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For 25 years, artist/writer Mike Mignola has crafted the stories of Hellboy, the well-meaning demon summoned by Nazi occultists who now works to save the world from various supernatural threats. While that sounds like it may have a limited scope, each Hellboy story draws from a large pool of influences. Everything from Jack Kirby, H.P. Lovecraft, folklore, Edgar Allen Poe, pulp heroes, and much more have inspired Mignola to form a truly unique comic.

Hellboy is also a visually impressive comic through Mignola’s high-contrast style. The artist implements heavy blacks throughout his art, which work well with the supernatural and shadowy tones of the subject matter. It’s a style that has become Mignola’s signature look and influenced many.

With so many miniseries, one-shots, short stories, and different publication formats, it can be difficult to know where to start reading Hellboy. Read on to find out the best way to get started, along with plenty of other valuable information.

Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1 cover by Mike Mignola.
Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1 cover by Mike Mignola.

What is the best place to start reading Hellboy?

Looking for a good place to start reading Hellboy? I recommend starting at the very beginning – Hellboy: Seed of Destruction. It kicks off the long-running Hellboy narrative, which would carry throughout much of Hellboy and related comics.

The only downside to starting with Seed of Destruction is that Mike Mignola hasn’t found his groove with Hellboy yet. But with each passing story, we see that groove formed into the Hellboy we know and love. (It’s also scripted by John Byrne, who has expressed questionable views in the past.)

If you want to skip to the point where the groove is found, start with the Right Hand of Doom short story. It recaps the main thread of what happened before and then pushes Hellboy further for future stories.

Where can I find Hellboy comics?

Do you think you want to read Hellboy? The various collected editions and issues can be found in most places you find comics. These include all good comic book stores, online stores, eBay, Amazon/Kindle, and Dark Horse Digital.

Learn more about where to find comics in our extensive guide.

Reading formats

Digging around looking for all the original issues can be a difficult and expensive task. Luckily, Dark Horse Comics has released Hellboy in multiple formats. These include:

  • Trade paperbacks – Bound collections that have approximately 4-8 issues of material
  • Library editions – These collect the equivalent of two trade paperbacks of material, along with extras, in an oversized hardcover format.
  • Omnibus editions – These editions are the newest format for Hellboy and collect approximately 300-500 pages of material. They have been reworked to collect material in chronological order.

None of these versions have exclusive stories so you won’t be missing out if you choose one format over another.

It’s totally up to you which format you choose to read Hellboy. If you want small portions of story, then the trade paperbacks are the way to go. Library editions look nice on the bookshelf. And the omnibus editions are great for binge reading.

Hellboy: Seed of Destruction Trade Paperback cover by Mike Mignola.
Hellboy: Seed of Destruction Trade Paperback cover by Mike Mignola.

Hellboy trade paperbacks

Trade paperbacks are the format that you’ll see the most commonly if you go looking for Hellboy. For ease of use, I have split this area up into different sections.

Main series

The core Hellboy stories have been collected in the following trade paperback collections. This format is also available digitally.

Hellboy Volume 1: Seed of Destruction
Written by Mike Mignola and John Bryne. Art by Mike Mignola.
Collects: Seed of Destruction #1-4, ‘World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator (SDCC)’ short story, and ‘World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator (Comics Buyers Guide)’ short story

Hellboy Volume 2: Wake the Devil
Written and art by Mike Mignola.
Collects: Wake the Devil #1-5

Hellboy Volume 3: The Chained Coffin and Others
Written and art by Mike Mignola.
Collects: ‘The Corpse’ short story, ‘The Iron Shoes’ short story, ‘The Baba Yaga’ short story, ‘A Christmas Underground’ short story, ‘The Chained Coffin’ short story, The Wolves of Saint August #1, and Almost Colossus #1-2

Hellboy Volume 4: The Right Hand of Doom
Written and art by Mike Mignola.
Collects: ‘Pancakes’ short story, ‘The Nature of the Beast’ short story, ‘King Vold’ short story, ‘Heads’ short story, ‘Goodbye Mister Tod’ short story, ‘The Vârcolac’ short story, ‘The Right Hand of Doom’ short story, and Box Full of Evil #1-2

Hellboy Volume 5: Conqueror Worm
Written and art by Mike Mignola.
Collects: Conqueror Worm #1-4

Hellboy Volume 6: Strange Places
Written and art by Mike Mignola.
Collects:
The Third Wish #1-2 and The Island #1-2

Hellboy Volume 7: The Troll Witch and Others
Written by Mike Mignola. Art by Mike Mignola, P. Craig Russell, and Richard Corben.
Collects: The Penanggalan, ‘The Hydra and the Lion’ short story, ‘The Troll-Witch’ short story, ‘The Vampire of Prague’ short story, ‘Dr. Carp’s Experiment’ short story, ‘The Ghoul’ short story, and Makoma #1-2

Hellboy Volume 8: Darkness Calls
Written by Mike Mignola. Art by Duncan Fegredo.
Collects: Darkness Calls #1-6

Hellboy Volume 9: The Wild Hunt
Written by Mike Mignola. Art by Duncan Fegredo.
Collects:
The Wild Hunt #1-8

Hellboy Volume 10: The Crooked Man and Others
Written by Mike Mignola and Joshua Dysart. Art by Richard Corben, Jason Shan Alexander, and Duncan Fegredo.
Collects: The Crooked Man #1-3, They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships #1, In the Chapel of Moloch #1, and ‘The Mole’ short story

Hellboy Volume 11: The Bride of Hell and Others
Written by Mike Mignola. Art by Richard Corben, Kevin Nowlan, and Scott Hampton.
Collects:
Hellboy in Mexico #1, Double Feature of Evil #1, The Sleeping and the Dead #1-2, The Bride of Hell #1, The Whittier Legacy #1, and Buster Oakley Gets His Wish #1

Hellboy Volume 12: The Storm and the Fury
Written by Mike Mignola. Art by Duncan Fegredo.
Collects:
The Storm #1-3, and The Fury #1-3

Hellboy in Hell Volume 1: The Descent
Written and art by Mike Mignola.
Collects:
Hellboy in Hell #1-5

Hellboy in Hell Volume 2: The Death Card
Written and art by Mike Mignola.
Collects:
Hellboy in Hell #6-10

Buy Hellboy on…

Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea cover by Mike Mignola.
Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea cover by Mike Mignola.

Other in-continuity stories

These are Hellboy tales set in the series continuity but act more like side stories than ones that contribute to the larger Hellboy meta-story. You can read these self-contained stories at any time.

Hellboy: House of the Living Dead
Written by Mike Mignola. Art by Richard Corben.

Note: House of the Living Dead is the first Hellboy original graphic novel.

Hellboy: The Midnight Circus
Written by Mike Mignola. Art by Duncan Fegredo.

Note: Hellboy: The Midnight Circus is the second original graphic novel and is set in the 1940s when Hellboy was a child.

Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea
Written by Mike Mignola and Gary Gianni. Art by Gary Gianni.

Note: Into the Silent Sea is the third Hellboy original graphic novel.

Hellboy in Mexico
Collects:
Hellboy in Mexico #1, House of the Living Dead OGN, ‘Hellboy versus the Aztec Mummy’ short story, ‘Hellboy Gets Married’ short story, ‘The Coffin Man’ short story, and ‘The Coffin Man 2: The Rematch’ short story

Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land
Written by Mike Mignola and Tom Sniegoski. Art by Craig Rousseau.
Collects: Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #1-4

Young Hellboy: Assault on Castle Death
Written by Mike Mignola and Tom Sniegoski. Art by Craig Rousseau.
Collects: Young Hellboy: Assault on Castle Death #1-4

Note: There are two Young Hellboy miniseries that in the 1940s when Hellboy was still a child.

Hellboy in Love
Written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. Art by Matt Smith.
Collects: Hellboy in Love #1-5

Note: Hellboy in Love is a miniseries set between 1979-1981 and explores Hellboy’s relationship with Anastasia Bransfield.

Giant Robot Hellboy #1-3
Written by Mike Mignola. Art by Duncan Fegredo.

This three-part series was inspired by one of Mike Mignola’s pandemic sketches.

Itty Bitty Hellboy #1 cover by Art Baltazar and Franco.
Itty Bitty Hellboy #1 cover by Art Baltazar and Franco.

Out-of-continuity stories

Not every Hellboy comic is part of the wider timeline. There are a number reinterpretations too.

Hellboy: Weird Tales Volume 1
Written by John Cassaday, Andi Watson, Fabian Nicieza, Joe Casey, Randy Stradley, Mark Ricketts, Eric Powell, Matt Hollingsworth, Alex Maleev, Bob Fingerman, Sara Ryan, Jason Pearson, John Arcudi, and Tom Sniegoski. Art by John Cassaday, Andi Watson, Stefano Raffaele, Steve Parkhouse, Seung Kim, Eric Wright, Eric Powell, Alex Maleev, Bob Fingerman, Steve Lieber, Jason Pearson, Roger Langridge, and Ovi Nedelcu.
Collects:
Hellboy: Weird Tales #1-4

Hellboy: Weird Tales Volume 2
Written by John Cassaday, J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman, Scott Morse, Ron Marz, Will Pfeifer, Doug Petrie, Craig Thompson, Tommy Lee Edwards, Jim Pascoe, Tom Fassbender, Kev Walker, Jill Thompson, Akira Yoshida, Kia Asamiya, and Evan Dorkin. Art by J.H. Williams III, Scott Morse, Jim Starlin, John Cassaday, P. Craig Russell, Gene Colan, Craig Thompson, Tommy Lee Edwards, Don Cameron, Simeon Wilkins, Kev Walker, Jill Thompson, Kia Asamiya, and Evan Dorkin.
Collects:
Hellboy: Weird Tales #5-8

Note: Hellboy: Weird Tales was an anthology series that brought on an all-star roster of comic book creators to do their own Hellboy tales.

Hellboy Junior
Written by Bill Wray and Mike Mignola. Art by Stephen DeStefano, Hilary Barta, Mike Mignola, Dave Cooper, and Pat McEown.
Collects: Hellboy Junior: Halloween Special and Hellboy Junior #1-2

Itty Bitty Hellboy
Written by Art Baltazar and Franco. Art by Art Baltazar.
Collects: Itty Bitty Hellboy #1-5

Itty Bitty Hellboy: The Search for the Were-Jaguar!
Written by Art Baltazar and Franco. Art by Art Baltazar.
Collects:
Itty Bitty Hellboy: The Search for the Were-Jaguar #1-4

Note: Itty Bitty Hellboy is a fun reinterpretation of Hellboy by Itty Bitty Hellboy #1 cover by Art Baltazar and Franco. The pair a most famous for their long-running Tiny Titans over at DC Comics.

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 2 cover by Mike Mignola.
Hellboy Library Edition Volume 2 cover by Mike Mignola.

Hellboy library editions

The Library editions consolidated a lot of the content into fewer collections to make it easier to find everything, while still looking great on a bookshelf.

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 1: Seed Of Destruction And Wake The Devil
Collects:
Seed of Destruction #1-4 and Wake The Devil #1-5

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 2: The Chained Coffin And The Right Hand Of Doom
Collects:
‘The Corpse’ short story, ‘The Iron Shoes’, ‘The Baba Yaga’, ‘A Christmas Underground’ short story, ‘The Chained Coffin’ short story, The Wolves of Saint August #1, Almost Colossus #1-2, ‘Pancakes’ short story, ‘The Nature of the Beast’ short story, ‘King Vold’ short story, ‘Heads’ short story, ‘Goodbye Mister Tod’ short story, ‘The Vârcolac’ short story, ‘The Right Hand of Doom’ short story, and Box Full of Evil #1-2

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 3: Conqueror Worm And Strange Places
Collects
: Conqueror Worm #1-4, The Third Wish #1-2, and The Island #1-2

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 4: The Crooked Man And The Troll Witch
Collects:
The Penanggalan, ‘The Hydra and the Lion’ short story, ‘The Troll-Witch’ short story, ‘The Vampire of Prague’ short story, ‘Dr. Carp’s Experiment’ short story, ‘The Ghoul’ short story, Makoma #1-2, The Crooked Man #1-3, They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships #1, and In the Chapel of Moloch #1

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 5: Darkness Calls And The Wild Hunt
Collects:
Darkness Calls #1-6, The Wild Hunt #1-8, and ‘The Mole’ short story

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 6: The Storm And The Fury And The Bride Of Hell
Collects:
Hellboy in Mexico #1, Double Feature of Evil #1, The Sleeping and the Dead #1-2, The Bride of Hell #1, The Whittier Legacy #1, Buster Oakley Gets His Wish #1, The Storm #1-3, and The Fury #1-3

Hellboy In Hell Library Edition
Collects:
Hellboy In Hell #1-10

Buy Hellboy library editions on…

Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1: Seed of Destruction cover by Mike Mignola.
Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1: Seed of Destruction cover by Mike Mignola.

Hellboy omnibus editions

In 2018, Dark Horse consolidated Hellboy even further with the omnibus editions. The editions collect the most content per book at an affordable price. They’ll soon become the default format as Dark Horse Comics phases out the older trade paperback collections (in print). This format is also available digitally.

Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1: Seed of Destruction
Collects:
Seed of Destruction #1-4, Wake the Devil #1-5, and Wolves of St August #1, ‘The Chained Coffin’ short story, and Almost Colossus #1-2.

Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories Volume 1
Collects:
‘Pancakes’short story, The Midnight Circus, ‘The Nature of the Beast’ short story, ‘King Vold’ short story, Hellboy in Mexico #1, ‘Hellboy versus the Aztec Mummy’ short story, ‘Hellboy Gets Married’ short story, ‘The Coffin Man’ short story, ‘The Coffin Man 2: The Rematch’ short story, House of the Living Dead, ‘The Crooked Man’ short story, The Penanggalan #1, ‘The Corpse’ short story, Double Feature of Evil #1, and ‘The Iron Shoes’ short story.

Hellboy Omnibus Volume 2: Strange Places
Collects:
Conqueror Worm #1-4, The Third Wish #1-2, The Island #1-2, Into the Silent Sea, ‘The Right Hand of Doom’ short story, Box Full of Evil #1-2, and ‘Being Human’ short story.

Hellboy Omnibus Volume 3: The Wild Hunt
Collects:
Darkness Calls #1-6, The Wild Hunt #1-8, ‘The Mole’ short story, The Storm #1-3, and The Fury #1-3.

Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories Volume 2
Collects:
‘The Hydra and the Lion’ short story, ‘The Troll Witch’ short story, ‘The Baba Yaga’ short story, ‘The Sleeping and the Dead’ short story, ‘Heads’ short story, ‘Goodbye Mister Tod’ short story, ‘The Vârcolac’ short story, ‘The Vampire of Prague’ short story, ‘The Bride of Hell’ short story, ‘The Whittier Legacy’ short story, ‘Buster Oakley Gets His Wish’ short story, ‘They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships’, ‘A Christmas Underground’, ‘Dr. Carp’s Experiment’, The Ghoul #1, In the Chapel of Moloch #1, and Makoma #1-2.

Hellboy Omnibus Volume 4: Hellboy In Hell
Collects:
Hellboy In Hell #1-10, ‘The Exorcist of Vorsk’ short story, and ‘The Magician and the Snake’ short story.

Buy Hellboy omnibus editions on…

Monster-Sized Hellboy cover by Mike Mignola.
Monster-Sized Hellboy cover by Mike Mignola.

Monster-Sized Hellboy

Would you prefer to read all of Hellboy in a single edition? Well, you can with the aptly titled Monster-Sized Hellboy. This collects the core series in its entirety in one 1,500+ page book. See all the details below:

Monster-Sized Hellboy
Collects: Seeds of Destruction #1-4, Wake the Devil #1-5, Wolves of St. August #1, “The Chained Coffin”, Almost Colossus #1-2, Conqueror Worm #1-4, The Third Wish #1-2, The Island #1-2, Into the Silent Sea, “The Right Hand of Doom,” “Box Full of Evil”, “Being Human”, Darkness Calls #1-6, The Wild Hunt #1-8, The Storm #1-3, The Fury #1-3, “The Mole”, Hellboy in Hell #1-10, “The Magician and the Snake”, and “The Exorcist of Vorsk”

What is the Hellboy Universe (aka the Mignolaverse)?

The Hellboy Universe, or what fans affectionately refer the Mignolaverse, is a shared universe of titles that spin out of (mostly) Hellboy. These comics feature that originally appeared in the pages of Hellboy or B.P.R.D and explore them in greater detail. They’re set in different corners and periods, making the comic’s universe richer.

Some notable spin-offs include B.P.R.D. (more on that below), Abe SapienLobster Johnson, and Witchfinder.

I can create a guide to the wider Hellboy Universe if there’s any demand.

B.P.R.D. characters by Guy Davis.
B.P.R.D. characters by Guy Davis.

How does B.P.R.D. fit into the mix?

B.P.R.D. is one of many Hellboy spin-offs. Unlike most, which use concepts introduced in past stories and then move them in their own direction, B.P.R.D. is intrinsically tied to the Hellboy comics. This is because the comic picks up the ongoing saga that started in Hellboy and runs with it when the Hellboy series goes off in other directions.

You’ll need to read some B.P.R.D stories alongside Hellboy to get a full picture of the saga. Here’s a rough breakdown:

  1. Read Hellboy up to Hellboy: Conqueror Worm
  2. Read B.P.R.D.: Hollow Earth to B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground
  3. Read Hellboy: Darkness Calls
  4. Read B.P.R.D.: The Warning to B.P.R.D.: King of Fear
  5. Read Hellboy: The Wild Hunt and Hellboy: The Storm and the Fury
  6. Read B.P.R.D: Hell on Earth – New World to B.P.R.D: Hell on Earth – A Cold Day in Hell
  7. Read Hellboy in Hell: The Decent
  8. Read B.P.R.D: Hell on Earth – Lake of Fire to B.P.R.D: Hell on Earth – Excorist
  9. Read Hellboy in Hell: The Death Car
  10. Read B.P.R.D: Hell on Earth – End of Days and B.P.R.D: Hell on Earth – Cometh the Hour
  11. Read B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know

Note: The above is a rough reading order that gives the essentials in figuring out how B.P.R.D. and Hellboy tie-in to each other. As a result, I’ve skipped over some of the Hellboy stories that are not tied into the larger saga. Perhaps I’ll do a Hellboy Universe reading order one day.

You can find out more about how to read the series in our companion guide, How To Start Reading B.P.R.D..

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. #1 cover by Alex Maleev.
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. #1 cover by Alex Maleev.

What about Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.?

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. is a prequel series that focus on Hellboy’s early missions in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Each story, either or miniseries or one-shot, is a self-contained story and don’t strictly connect with the core Hellboy or B.P.R.D series as they’re set in the 1950s.

I can put together a guide for these comics in the future if there’s enough of a demand.

Have your say!

Has this guide helped you to read Hellboy comics? Which format appeals to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below or via Facebook, X (formally Twitter), or Mastodon. You can also subscribe to the How To Love Comics newsletter too.

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