Book of the Month

Hellboy: Library Edition, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction & Wake the Devil

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Size: pages
Price: 49.95


That’s how most Americans seem want their cars, and an increasing number of comic book fans seem want their collected editions.

You announce an oversized, extras-filled hardcover collection and people lose their minds with excitement and those books start flying off the shelves. Well, most of them anyway. You want the Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus, there are still many left to find on the shelf. Grant Morrison’s New X-Men Omnibus? You’re out of luck.

The delicate balance that the comic book companies must face is to not oversaturate the oversized market while at the same time taking advantage of the huge buckets of money to be made from those editions.

But if there was one series that was ever a candidate for the oversized hardcover treatment, it would be Hellboy.

Hellboy: Library Edition, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction & Wake the Devil is the second entry in Dark Horse Comic’s oversized hardcover line and it’s one hell (heh) of an encore. (A complete set of Sin City was the first, and of course it’s out of print!).

If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that iFanboy came late to the game with Hellboy. Well, some of us did. I read the first few Hellboy miniseries when they first came out in the mid-1990s but stopped buying them for some reason, until last year when Josh, Ron, and I jumped back into the Hellboy world with reckless abandon. And it is a full-fledged universe now with a myriad of mini-series, spin-offs, animated adaptations, and big time live action films. Hellboy is a force to be reckoned with and it is all a tribute to the genius that is Mike Mignola.

And really, Hellboy: Library Edition, Vol. 1 is iFanboy’s May Book of the Month for one reason, and pretty much one reason only. Sure the writing is fun and exciting with its unique mix of horror, action, fantasy, and mythology, but it’s Mike Mignola’s artwork – that wonderfully unique artwork – presented in that beautiful oversized format that cemented this selection.

Terms like “modern master” get thrown around a lot these days but there is absolutely no question that Mike Mignola is truly one of them.

There is no mistaking Mike Mignola’s art. When you see it, you know it. And there is nothing else out there in the comic book world (that I’m reading, at least) that is quite like it. It’s dark and moody and utilizes a lot of heavy shadows. Hellboy is a world of dark despair and ancient demons. Of occult rituals and Nazi mystics. Of reluctant heroes who speak softly and carry a big right hand of doom. This is a unique world with an artistic style all its own and in this big, oversized format Mike Mignola’s art really has a chance to shine.

It’s a beautifully put together book both inside and out. The outside cover is thick and has a rough texture not normally associated with comic books. And the inside is even better. The art reproduction is top notch – the colors are beautiful. Hellboy is a book that relies heavily on blacks and reds and the blacks here are deep and dark, and the reds really pop. Trust me, you can lose yourself in these pages from just admiring the art. It’s an extremely beautiful looking book.

But it’s not all about the art. There are some great stories in this book as well. And one interesting thing that this volume does is give each story different colored pages. In the first half of the book, “Seed of Destruction,” the art is set against a black background and black borders. The second half of the book, “Wake the Devil” (and the bonus material) the art is set against a white background and white borders. It’s an easy and eye-catching way to know exactly which story any given page belongs to.

And what of the stories themselves?

“Seed of Destruction” is the story that introduced us to Hellboy, Dr. Bruttenholm, B.P.R.D., Liz Sherman, Abe Sapien, and many others. Here they square off against giant frog monsters, ancient demons, and none other than Grigori Rapustin himself. This first story was scripted by John Byrne because, the story goes, Mike Mignola thought that he wasn’t quite ready to handle the writing duties himself. That sentiment would soon change.

“Wake the Devil” features more Nazis (they were really into the occult!), ancient vampires and Hellboy having to deal with the reality of his existence on Earth, his purpose in life, and whether or not he will follow his destiny or choose his own path. It’s the classic troubled hero’s dilemma. Mike Mignola is on full writing and art duties now and the transition from John Byrne’s scripting is seamless.

Art is art, but without an engaging story it’s impossible to have a great comic. Hellboy has great stories. And one of the greatest things about Hellboy is that even though the stories are steeped in mythology and legend from all over the globe, and even though the mini-series jump around in time, they are never confusing and all of the information that you need to enjoy the stories are found on the page. These are big, fun, crazy adventures that are laugh out loud funny, goose bump-inducing scary, and most importantly — they are smart. They don’t talk down to the reader or lay everything out on a platter. The reader who engages and immerses themselves in the world that Mignola has created is a reader who is quite handsomely rewarded.

The final eighth (or so; I’m not a mathematician) of this book is dedicated to the extras, which in this case are mostly pages from Mike Mignola’s original Hellboy sketchbooks. They include character notes and explanations on how characters and story points evolved. It’s a nice little insight into the creative process.

I’m glad to see that companies other than DC and Marvel are coming around to the oversized hardcover market. There is certainly a lot of great work out there that justifies the format. Image Comics released The Complete Invincible Library, Vol. 1 and Dark Horse, previously with the Library Edition release of Sin City, and now with Hellboy (and the rumored to be upcoming Library Edition release of The Umbrella Academy) is jumping in with both feet. Hellboy: Library Edition, Vol. 2 will be out in a few months, and hopefully sales are such that they continue to collect all of the Mignola-drawn Hellboy minis this way.

I hope so for my sake, I canceled my plans to buy all of the standard Hellboy trade paperbacks when these babies were announced!

Conor Kilpatrick


  1. When did this ship?  I have it on order at me LCS but have yet to see it.

    And oversized is definitely the way to go.

  2. @musickllsme-   It should already be out.  I saw it at my LCS.

  3. This has been out for a couple of weeks now. The format is amazing (almost the size of a DC Absolute Edition!), but the cloth-like material used on the outside is a little disappointing because it’ll dirty easy with dust and such. This should of came with a slipcase. Other than that, this is a great way to re-read Hellboy and I’ll be buying them all in this size.

  4. @musickillsme – I got it the week of Ne York Comic Con

    @RolandofGilead – I love the cloth outside.  If it collects dust then I think it’s even more appropriate for Hellboy. 

  5.  is instocktrades going to continue the 45% off on ifanboy’s book of the month picks with this?

  6. @OccultPanda – Yes.

  7. I’m surprised you didn’t mention "The Art of Hellboy." It’s the same size, same cover, same stunning production values. A must have for the collection, as a companion to this book. It’s awesome and has some nice sketches and rare art.

  8. I saw this at my store and immediately wanted to pick it up, but when I flipped through it, the spine of the book felt…wobbly…like the pages are a little loose and they’ll fall out after a certain period of time.  Is this what everyone else experienced?  Or did I just pick up a bad copy of the book?

  9. @Neb – Mine is really sturdy so far.  Even after putting it through the scanner a few times.

  10. Ok, that’s good to know.  I’m definitely in on this one.  How long until the 45% thing will kick in?  I’m thinking this could be purchased next week if I skip lunch for all of next week… 🙂

  11. Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I got mine the weekend of NYCC as well.  Best looking book in my collection.  Love it!

  12. is this conors pick? i can’t find who’s pick this is on the page

  13. Haha – whoops.  Fixed.

  14. There’s that catchphrase! 🙂

  15. awesome! mine should be coming in from DCBS tomorrow.

  16. HAHA! nice call back to the catchphrase

  17. I got this and loved it as well. I was very suprised by the size. I had seen the sin city collections and didn’t think it would be the same. Glad they are releasing them seperately unilke the Sin City’s. couldn’t really afford to drop $150 at once, $300 if you wanted both!

     If I may be so bold as to recommend the Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus? There ARE plenty to find, and once you get past the first one, they are quite fantastic.

  18. Love these. I’d buy it if I had the money. I love Hellboy. I still have to read BPRD. I love it, I love it, I love it!

  19. I just picked this up on Sunday off of Instocktrades.  It’s ridiculously cheap.  I can’t wait to get it later this week.

  20. Excellent pick and review, Conor!

    Hellboy Library Edition Volume 2: The Chained Coffin, The Right Hand Of Doom, and Others will be out October 15

    If you want to see more of the Sin City Library. I have pictures posted on Flickr.


  21. Gorgeous book and I always love seeing Mignola’s sketches and how his creative process works.  The discount is amazing.  Good pick, Conor.


    One thing for all the iFanbase.  Mignola’s name is only hard to pronounce because of the damn silent "g" in the middle.  If you heard his name before reading it there’d be no problem.  It’s "MINN – yoh – la." 

  22. This is a great book. I read mine this weekend, and enjoyed it immensely. Only problem I had was that my fingers left prints on the black pages.

  23. Is there a coupon code or something at InstockTrades so iFanboy will get credit for my purchase?  I’d order it through the Amazon link but it is MUCH cheaper at IST

  24. @NJBaritone – No, no coupon code.  Don’t worry about us, go through IST.

  25. thanks for the review Conor. and thanks to everyone else for mentioning IST. now i can get this cheaper there, woot. i love Hellboy…

  26. I just got my copy in the mail yesterday.  It is b-e-a-utiful.  I’m glad I got talked into it.

  27. i ordered my copy from just earlier today.  i was at borders this morning and finally got to see this book up close and had to order it.  i also ordered volume one of cerebus because there’s all the dave sim talk right now and i want to see what he’s actually known for. 

  28. I just got my copy in the mail yesterday from amazon and I was blown away. Haven’t started reading it yet but the art is Gorgeous. It’s so distinctively stylized and I love it. I’m a big fan of dramatic shadowing and I love the depth and dimension that it give so this book. This is my first exposure to Hellboy and I’m so excited! Gotta get through Black Dossier first.

    sidenote- is there a button to look at all the previous Book Of The Month picks? If there is then I’m just a ‘tard but if not I think that would be a nice add-on ’cause i can’t remember what the first BOTM pick was and i wanted to get it. just a suggestion.

  29. Quick question – does this book come shrink wrapped?  When I got my order from Amazon tonight, the book that I received was not shrink wrapped.  I’m probably going to return as there is a divot at the bottom of the cover but I was wondering what the original packaging looked like.

  30. i bought mine from and it came bagged like a giant comic.  it came in perfect condition and the book is GORGEOUS.  couldn’t be happier!

  31. i got mine from Amazon and it was shrink wrapped to a larger piece of cardboard so any impact pressure was taken by that

  32. So I just got given this for my birthday… Holy crap! This book is BEAUTIFUL! The art looks gorgeous oversized and all the additional material makes well worth the moolah.

    Thanks again to iFanboy for another great purchase (made even sweeter this time as I didn’t have to pay for it!). 

  33. this is my first time reading hellboy and it blew me away.  the artwork is amazing and mignola does such a great job at making these characters so iconic in a few short issues.  that last page in one of the earlier issues where it’s just his stone fist trying to break through is fantastic. great art.  great story.  i’m so pleased i got this!

  34. @TopGun – No, there’s no button.  It’s something we’re working to add on, but it’s not there yet. 

    The books were Godland Celestial Edition, Queen and Country Definitive Edition, Justice League International, and this Hellboy Book.

  35. so i was just looking through and i am DEFINATELY going to get this. i cant wait to read it. seems like it will fill my hellboy fix i need.