on 7 January 2005
Seed of Destruction is Mike Mignola's first graphic album featuring his brilliant Hellboy. The artwork is very Kirbyesque throughout with gothic overtones. Somehow it all works very well. Mignola portrays a quirkiness and humour to the Hellboy character (which is fully realised in Del Toro's new Hellboy movie) and brings to the mix Abe Sapien (almost a modern reworking of Universal's Creature from the Black Lagoon), the incendiary Liz Sherman and, of course, the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence).
Seed of Destruction begins with Hellboy appearing after a fiendish nazi experiment by the villain of the piece, Rasputin.
From then on it's a rollercoaster ride of battles with frog-like monsters and tentacled beasts until the final showdown. The book doesn't take itself too seriously which is just as well given the absolutely ridiculous scenario. But, this is really FUN.
Mignola has found his niche and he has come up with a truly original concept, strong characters and atmosphere soaked, adrenaline pumping storylines in his Hellboy series. If you really like comics you can't afford to miss Hellboy.
on 18 January 1999
HELLBOY is probably everything Robert Bloch (from the intro to Seed of Destruction) and Alan Moore (from the intro to Wake the Devil) say it is but the bottom line is that it's just great fun; a great visual and mythical experience. It clears itself of any pretentiousness right of the bat: it's about a monster (more specifically, a demon) who goes around and beats up or gets beaten up by other monsters. Mike Mignola himself said he "wanted to draw monsters" and HELLBOY assures that he'll be able to do so, whether drawing the good guy or the bad guys. But while Hellboy may not be the most cerebral comic book on the rack (not to imply that there are that many to begin with), it draws it's inspiration from mythology and folklore, so it's definitely food for the brain. And it may just inspire you to go and read the source material.
Something must also said for the artistic effort in the SoD series. Not to say that subsequent HELLBOY stories drawn by Mignola look bad (far from it), but in Seed Of Destruction, one can clearly see the labor of love involved. The combination of line work and heavy blacks seem to convey a stronger sense of depth than usual. Speaking of heavy blacks, Mignola has admitted that such a technique began as a way to cover up what he "didn't know how to draw", but he certainly knows how to turn this admitted weakness into strength. Mignola also skimps on backgrounds, often just leaving them out for panels at a time, but when he does render backgrounds, he knows just how to set the mood, whether the background in question is a derelict church, a moonlit forest or a graveyard. So effective are Mignola's backgrounds when they are seen, that the reader barely misses them when they're absent.
Anyway, enough gushing praise. I end with a recommendation: anyone who's a fan of comics, folklore or mythology should give HELLBOY: SEED OF DESTRUCTION (or anything HELLBOY, for that matter) a look.
on 23 November 2010
I am not making any negetive critism against the novel itself, I loved it. This makes it even more irritating that I cannot leaf through this volume again without watching out for loose pages (these are not numbered afterall).
I have been an ardent graphic novel reader for many years, and do not handle any book carelessly or roughly. The binding of the paperback is low quality, the lowest. This work and its readers deserve better!
Thank you for your time
It's been a number of years since I first read Seed of Destruction, the first Hellboy book, and, having read all of them at this point, I decided to go back and re-read the first book because my memories of it were hazy. Well, as I suspected, it's not a great first volume - but Hellboy is an incredible series, so don't be put off by this shaky start. The later books get better and better and better. But this first one...
I had completely forgotten that Mike Mignola didn't write the first Hellboy book - John "Man of Steel" Byrne did. That one surprised me. I'm sure Mignola had a hand in the story but the script is entirely credited to Byrne, which explains a lot. Hellboy doesn't quite sound like Hellboy in this - he's less charismatic, less witty, and more sober than in later books. Here he talks more like a generic tough guy than the Hellboy we've come to know over the years. Professor Bruttenholm (pronounced "broom") is killed early on in the book and Hellboy barely bats an eyelid. Not a single tear, just a cursory "he's dead" over the phone. To be fair, the relationship between Hellboy and his adoptive father, the Professor, would be elaborated on in later books so it's interesting to see that in this first volume Mignola had all but dismissed Bruttenholm as a character in the Hellboy universe.
Seed of Destruction is only barely related to the first Hellboy film. The beginning of the book and the film are the same in that it's set during WW2 on a remote island where the Nazis and Rasputin are trying to summon forces to turn the tide in the Nazis' favour and a baby Hellboy shows up. But that's only the first few pages and the film and book separate from there on out. The haunting Cavendish house, the generations-old curse, and the frogs that take up the rest of the book, aren't in the film at all, so don't expect Seed of Destruction to be the first Hellboy film in comics form.
Mignola's art is the best thing about the book. I love Mignola's style, all solid colours and figures verging on the abstract plus Hellboy's character design is just genius (some sketches at the back show how the character evolved from his inception in 1991 to his final design in 1994), and is one of the things I miss about the later Hellboy books. It's interesting that Mignola wasn't confident enough to both write and draw the book which is ironic as Mignola would become a much better writer than Byrne in later books. Byrne's writing is far too descriptive so the panels are filled with text while Hellboy's inner monologue is too clunky and expositional - these aspects would later disappear once Mignola took over writing duties.
All of which is to say that Seed of Destruction isn't a great Hellboy book but is a solid horror/mystery story with plenty of cool moments. There are lots of horror elements, many of which are Lovecraftian, like the tentacle monster at the end and the frog monsters throughout, not to mention the doomed expedition in arctic climes, and the overall gothic feel of the book. Plus it's great to see Mignola slowly putting together what will become a massive universe, gingerly introducing Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman while only hinting at what the BPRD is.
It's a shame this is the first volume as many new readers will read this and some will be turned off from reading more by Byrne's clunky writing and characterisation, and therefore miss out on one of the greatest comic book characters ever created, as Hellboy will become in later volumes. Seed of Destruction may not be an ideal first book but readers who persevere with the series will be rewarded with some of the richest comics you could ever hope to read.
on 27 April 2003
Mike's artwork is a breath of fresh air, like Frank Miller his use of black as a colour or to create an image from very little is amazing, although he can be very cartoony, much like Manga can flip between different styles between panes. The inking is also very good in this book and can't be faulted. The use of panes and bubbles is also spot on so it makes the experience very pleasureable reading.
As for the story, I enjoyed this very much, this is possibly because I have read many Lovecraft stories which have obviously been drawn from for this book. There is also a sledge hammer wit about the main character Hellboy that keeps you wanting him to get into these crazy fights with beasts as he is almost a step away from the serious and moody story line. Hellboy is the oddest looking hero I have seen for a comic that is trying to take itself seriously but he is the touch of humour that without which you realise would not make the story 'perfect'.
I hope a Lovecraft type mythos is used more in future Hellboy because this one book has got me hooked.
Near the end of World War II, the evil Rasputin summoned a creature from another world -- a little red demon baby.
And so starts Mike Mignola's distinctly offbeat "Hellboy Volume 1: Seed of Destruction," an eerie action/fantasy with a bright-red demon as its anti-hero. Mignola happily crams this rather brief tale with Lovecraftian horrors, a crumbling cursed mansion and a truly malevolent villain who wants to destroy the world.
Decades after Hellboy was summoned into this world, his adoptive father Professor Bruttenholm recounts what little he can remember of a doomed expedition to the north pole, along with the three Cavendish brothers. Then a grotesque frog creature attacks Bruttenholm, killing him instantly -- moments before Hellboy returns the favor.
Soon after, Hellboy and his companions Abe Sapien (fish-man) and Liz Sherman (pyrokinetic) arrive at cursed Cavendish Manor, unaware that the mansion's owner is in league with Rasputin. Then ghastly frog-creatures kidnap Liz and attack Hellboy, as Rasputin reveals his presence to the demon/man that he considers his servant.
And if Hellboy will not serve him, then Rasputin intends to use Liz's power to unleash a horrifying evil on the world....
"Seed of Destruction" is basically the springboard for the Hellboy graphic novel series (particularly as it reveals Hellboy's background and supposed destiny), and it's also the briefest -- virtually all the action takes place in the course of an hour or two. It's only real flaw is that Rasputin's drawn-out monologues tend to slow the plot down -- there's a LOT of exposition.
But for all that, it's a pretty wild ride. Mignola's rough, shadowy art matches the overall tone of the story, starting as a straightforward horror/suspense story before rapidly escalating into an all-out war on the lakeside. And there are some poignant moments as well, such as Hellboy's tragic final meeting with his adoptive father, or Abe's glimpse of the frogmen cradling the mother they killed.
And Mignola is pretty clearly a huge H.P. Lovecraft fan -- the story takes place in a cursed lakeside house, with a tentacled monster and mutated frog-beasts that were once human. And the Ogru Jahad only add to that impression -- they're ancient, terrible creatures that apparently want to obliterate everything. For whatever reason.
Hellboy is the pivot of the whole adventure. And despite his scarlet skin, horns and cloven hooves, he's anything but devilish -- he's sarcastic, wry, hot-tempered and determined to keep the world from Rasputin's clutches. But he also has a gentler side that we see when he's dealing with the elderly Bruttenholm, as well as his teammates Abe and Liz.
Full of action and grotesque creatures, "Hellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction" is a solid introduction to a decidedly unusual series. Bravo, Mike Mignola.
on 21 April 2008
No graphic novel collection is complete without some titles, like Watchmen, Knightfall, Sin City and Hellboy!!
I first started reading Hellboy before the first movie came out, I was curious, got one to try and now have them all (and the novels and figures and statues). Seed of Destruction is the first in the series and it jumps straight in to Hellboys life in the B.P.R.D. (bereau for paranormal resreach and defense, kind of like a supernatural CIA). You just see he is a demon working for the agency, and he has a cool coat and a massive stone hand. But as the story goes on, you find he was summoned by Nazis and Ra ra rasputin to help win WW2. But he was saved by Proff. Bruttenholm and now fights for the good guys! Along with Abe Sapien (fish guy) and Liz (Fire starter!). Expect battles with disgusting tentacled Lovecraftian monsters and crazed Nazis. And Nazis do tend to make excellent bad guys! As you progress through the series you find out much more about Hellboys background, and the origins of Abe and Liz too. Its just a great story, well told!
My favourite aspect of the artwork is the black, There is so much darkness throughout and it really sets the tone and sets it apart from other graphic novels. The villains are great, you cannot beat an evil Nazi head in a jar! I love Mignolas fascination with myths from all over the world, especially europe. You get the feeling he puts in lots of research to find just the right gross, creepy myth to use. Its kind of nice to get that european feel for a change, especially if all you read is Marvel and DC!
on 4 August 2001
First of all I'd like to advise people who are willing to get into Hellboy to start here. Besides from this being the official first story you also get easily introduced to Hellboy and what he's about here, and the drift into Hellboy-reality is very natural and gentle. Besides from that it's a very nice read as a stand-alone story. It doesn't end with something like a cliff-hanger that makes you need to buy continuing books. It's a book with a beginning and an end.
About the story: It's been over 35 years since Trevor Bruttenholm first found the creature that was later named "Hellboy", a big red creature over 7 feet high, strong as ten men, with a tail and an artificial stone arm. Nobody knows what he is or where he came from, including himself (a thing about which you get more and more hints as time goes by, not only in this particular volume). That was at the end of World War II on the scene of an occult experiment by a Nazi group trying to grab on to probably their last chances of enpowering the Reich. Now, the present, Trevor reaches out to Hellboy, who has since gone on to work for the "Bureau of Paranormal Investigation", because he desperately needs his aid. Weird extra-natural murders are taking place and it's up to Hellboy and his agency to find what kind of mystical powers are on a rampage and, even more important, who unleashed them.
What you have here is a title that especially people who like things like "X-Files" and "Planetary" will like a lot. It's about an agency that goes around the world to solve super-natural crimes and puzzles, but the members of the agency aren't that normal theirselves either. All this in a pretty gritty and dark atmosphere. It's very well-written, everything fits, and what also is really nice is that the creator (Mike Mignola) NEVER gave the story-writing or the art-job away in any of the following books. The creator sticks with his book and it really shows later on, when you see how things keep clicking and keep the same atmosphere. Must-buy for Planetary and X-Files fans and alike.
on 19 March 2009
If you like occult-themed, action-oriented pulp heroics that remind you of the Call of Cthulhu RPG (right down to tentacled gods with Lovecraftian names), then this is for you. The art is good, the writing is good and most importantly, the mood and the atmosphere is spot-on. The book isn't particularly long, which is a drawback only because I would've wanted to have more to delve into in one sitting.
on 23 October 2013
Hellboy is a very surreal, creative new twist on superheroes. Hellboy is some kind of demonic ape-like superhuman spat out from Hell after a Nazi occult session gone-wrong. Hellboy grows up to be a member of some kind of paranormal investigation group including a female pyrotechnic and some kind of amphibian humanoid alien to bring the fight to Rasputin in a sinking haunted house. It's confusing and weird, but excellently done.
If you're expecting this to be like the Hellyboy film starring Ron Perlman, you'll likely be surprised. While the film tells the same basic premise and Hellboy's origin is very similar, the film is very much its own entity and is a loose adaptation. But if you like the film, you'll like the book.
The art is dark and stylish, and Hellboy's red skin clashes with the murky colours of everything else, the story is well-paced and the action is gripping. This is a great read for any comic book reader.