Sunday, 30 November 2008

Hellboy Reading Order (including BPRD)

As a big fan of Hellboy (and the excellent spin-off, BPRD) I thought it might be helpful to put together a complete reading order for the entire series.

Those who have read the first three trade-paperback collections might have noticed that the published order isn't the order you should actually read the stories in. Very confusing for first time readers!

Of course a reading order can be tricky to judge because it's perfectly usual for Hellboy's timeline to jump around the place and without any serious knock-on effect to any other story.

With this in mind I only mark stories in RED that require you to read them in order. Stories in BLACK are related to the stories in red, but can be read at any time. The other stories (those in GREY) can be read at absolutely any time and are completely stand-alone.

So if you want to mix it around, you can now make your own decisions as to what to read next.

How to use this reading order:
Just start at the top and work your way down. Pretty simple! The order is my own personal recommendation (grouped by the trade paperbacks you need to own in order to read the story), but the Red/Black/Grey system means you can mix it up however you please, so long as you read the RED stories in order.

Note: The years the stories are set are included for the sake of interest only. (I just liked seeing them :)

Enjoy!

THE COMPLETE RECOMMENDED HELLBOY/BPRD READING ORDER

Hellboy #1: Seed of Destruction
1993: Untitled promo story (originally published in San Diego Comic Con Comics #2)
1994: Seed of Destruction
1994: Untitled promo story (originally published in The Comic Buyer's Guide #1070)

Please note: If you own Volumes 2 and 3, then you might want to read The Chained Coffin from Volume 3 before continuing with Volume 2. The reason for this is that Hellboy makes a passing reference to this story in Volume 2.

If you don't own Volume 3 (or 2) then it's perfectly fine to go straight ahead and read Volume 2 first. Reading The Chained Coffin before Volume 2 adds very little to the main story.

Hellboy #2: Wake the Devil
1996: Wake the Devil

Hellboy #3: The Chained Coffin and Others
1959: The Corpse
1961: The Iron Shoes
1989: A Christmas Underground
1994: The Wolves of Saint August
1995: The Chained Coffin
1964: The Baba Yaga

Hellboy #3: The Chained Coffin and Others
1996: Almost Colossus

Hellboy #4: The Right Hand of Doom
1947: Pancakes
1954: The Nature of the Beast
1956: King Vold
1967: Heads
1979: Goodbye, Mister Tod
1982: The Vârcolac
1998: The Right Hand of Doom
1999: Box Full of Evil

BPRD #1: Hollow Earth and Other Stories
1998: Abe Sapien: Drums of the Dead
1938: Lobster Johnson: The Killer in my Skull
1997: Abe Sapien vs Science

Hellboy #5: Conqueror Worm
2001: Conqueror Worm

BPRD #1: Hollow Earth and Other Stories
2002: BPRD: Hollow Earth

Hellboy #6: Strange Places
2002: The Third Wish

BPRD #2: The Soul of Venice & Other Stories
2003: The Soul of Venice
2003: Dark Waters
2003: Night Train
2003: There's Something Under My Bed
2004: Another Day at the Office

Hellboy #7: The Troll Witch and Others
1963: The Troll Witch
1958: The Penanggalan
1991: Dr. Carp's Experiment
1992: The Ghoul
1993: Makoma

BPRD #3: Plague of Frogs
2004: Plague of Frogs

BPRD #4: The Dead
2004: Born Again (Listed as "Prologue" to main story.)
2004: The Dead

BPRD #5: The Black Flame
2005: The Black Flame

Hellboy #6: Strange Places
2005: The Island (You can read this any time after The Third Wish, if you like, but it might retain more impact if you wait.)

BPRD #6: The Universal Machine

2006: The Universal Machine

Hellboy #8: Darkness Calls
2007: Darkness Calls

BPRD #7: Garden of Souls
2006: Garden of Souls

BPRD #8: Killing Ground
2007: Killing Ground

BPRD #9: 1946
1946: 1946
1939: Bishop Olek's Devil

Ape Sapien #1: The Drowning
1981: The Drowning

Lobster Johnson #1: The Iron Prometheus
1937: The Iron Prometheus

BPRD #10: The Warning
2008: The Warning

BPRD #11: The Black Goddess
2008: The Black Goddess

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder #1: In the Service of Angels
1879: In the Service of Angels
1879: Murderous Intent
1879: The Burial of Katharine Baker

Hellboy #9: The Wild Hunt
2009: The Wild Hunt

BPRD #12: War on Frogs
2006: War on Frogs
2008: Revival

BPRD #13: 1947
1947: 1947
194?: And What Shall I Find There

BPRD #14: King of Fear
2010: King of Fear

Hellboy #10: The Crooked Man and Other Stories
1958: The Crooked Man
1992: In the Chapel of Moloch
1986: They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships
2007: The Mole

Please let me know if you have any corrections and/or suggestions. Thanks!

Thanks to Shady on the Darkhorse forums for additional help.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

The Hellboy Story Chronology

I've recently fallen in love with Mike Mignola's Hellboy comic book series. After watching Guillermo del Toro's movies (first one: meh, second one: wow!) I decided to read the first collection, Seed of Destruction (co-written by John Byrne), and I wasn't overly enthusiastic at first, but I decided to persevere and discovered I was wrong: Hellboy was, infact, awesome.

Alan Moore's introduction to the second collection (Wake the Devil) points out exactly what makes it such a brilliant and unique series: It captures all the fun and brevity of Golden Age comics like Spider-Man but also has an interesting modern edge (and I don't just mean being filled with post-modern references; refreshingly there are none). It manages to be dark and subversive while always remaining sweet, innocent and fun.

The storyline leaps all over the place, in a very fun and effortless way, but you may wonder how they all fit together into a single chronology. No? Well, I did :)

The following lists the individual stories of Hellboy and the trade-paperbacks where they can be found. It is based on the excellent work of Kid Cthulu and Mist the Soul-Gatherer and features only canon works (so no Hellboy: Weird Tales, Hellboy: Odd/Odder/Oddest Jobs or Hellboy Jr.)

If you think I've missed something, please leave a comment! (The items in grey are ones that I'm not sure if they're canonical of not.)

Pre-Hellboy:
1937: Lobster Johnson #1: The Iron Prometheus
1938: Lobster Johnson: The Killer in my Skull (collected in BPRD #1: Hollow Earth & Other Stories)
Hellboy appears (1944):
1946: BPRD: 1946 (collected in BPRD #9: 1946)
1947: Pancakes (collected in Hellboy #4: The Right Hand of Doom)
1954: The Nature of the Beast (collected in Hellboy #4)
1956: King Vold (collected in Hellboy #4)
1958: The Penanggalan (collected in Hellboy #7: The Troll Witch and Others)
1959: The Corpse (collected in Hellboy #3: The Chained Coffin and Others)
1961: The Iron Shoes (collected in Hellboy #3)
1961: The Hydra and the Lion (collected in Hellboy #7)
1963: The Troll Witch (collected in Hellboy #7)
1964: The Baba Yaga (collected in Hellboy #3)
1967: Heads (collected in Hellboy #4)
1979: Goodbye, Mr. Tod (collected in Hellboy #4)
1981: Ape Sapien #1: The Drowning
1982: The Vampire of Prague (collected in Hellboy #7)
1982: The Vârcolac (collected in Hellboy #4 (redrawn and expanded))
1986: The Lost Army (novel by Christopher Golden)
1989: A Christmas Underground (collected in Hellboy #3)
1990: The Kabandha (from the Hellboy Sourcebook (only 4 pages) - not yet collected)
1991: Dr. Carp's Experiment (collected in Hellboy #7)
1992: The Ghoul (collected in Hellboy #7)
1993: Makoma (collected in Hellboy #7)
The original series begins:
1994: Hellboy #1: Seed of Destruction
1994: The Wolves of Saint August (collected in Hellboy #3)
1995: The Chained Coffin (collected in Hellboy #3)
1996: Hellboy #2: Wake the Devil
1996: Almost Colossus (collected in Hellboy #3)
1997: Abe Sapien vs Science (collected in BPRD #1)
1997: The Bones of Giants (novel by Christopher Golden)
1998: The Right Hand of Doom (collected in Hellboy #4)
1998: Abe Sapien: Drums of the Dead (collected in BPRD #1)
1999: Box Full of Evil (collected in Hellboy #4)
2001: The Dakini (prose) (from the Hellboy Sourcebook - not yet collected)
2001: Conqueror Worm (collected in Hellboy #5: Conqueror Worm)
2002: BPRD: Hollow Earth (collected in BPRD #1)
2002: The Third Wish (collected in Hellboy #6: Strange Places)
2003: BPRD: The Soul of Venice (collected in BPRD #2: The Soul of Venice & Other Stories)
2003: BPRD: Dark Waters (collected in BPRD #2)
2003: BPRD: Night Train (collected in BPRD #2)
2003: BPRD: There's Something Under My Bed (collected in BPRD #2)
2004: BRPD: Another Day at the Office (collected in BPRD #2)
2004: BPRD: Born Again (collected in BPRD #4: The Dead)
2004: BRPRD #3: Plague of Frogs
2004: BPRD: The Dead (collected in BPRD #4)
2005: The Island (collected in Hellboy #6)
2005: BPRD #5: The Black Flame
2006: BPRD #6: The Universal Machine
2006: BPRD #7: Garden of Souls
2006: Hellboy #8: Darkness Calls
2007: BPRD #8: Killing Ground

Note 1: If there's no story name it's because it's the same name as the collected edition (with no other short stories).
Note 2: The full name is only given once, after that it's just the volume number.