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Superhero Origins: Hellboy

VO: Dan
Born in Hell, spawned by the Nazis, and now a force for good, the world's greatest paranormal investigator is not from this world at all. A living breathing demon, Hellboy is the BPRD's top paranormal investigator. With his trenchcoat and trusty revolver, Hellboy faces off against a dizzying array of supernatural and paranormal creatures. Join as we explore the comic book origins of Mike Mignola's Hellboy.

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Superhero Origins: Hellboy

The world’s greatest paranormal investigator is not from this world at all. Welcome to, and today we’re taking a look at the origins of Anung Un Rama, also known as, Hellboy.

As with most comic book characters, there are often different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline that unfolded in 1994’s “Hellboy: Seed of Destruction”, which was then expanded upon in 1996’s “Hellboy: Wake the Devil.”

Hellboy’s origins trace back to World War II. Realizing that they were losing the war, the Nazis enlisted the help of a sorcerer named Grigori Rasputin, who promised to perform a miracle that would reverse the tide of the conflict.

Under the close supervision of the Nazi’s paranormal agents, he set about to perform his dark ritual in a remote location off the coast of Scotland.

Unbeknownst to the Nazis, the Allies had gotten wind of this experiment and had sent their own paranormal team to investigate. Under the direction of England’s top psychic medium, the Allied team set up camp in an old Church. Sensing that something was about to happen there, the medium instructed the allies to wait.

Meanwhile, Rasputin completed his spell with the eruption of a brilliant flash of lightening. although to the dismay of the disappointed Nazis, it appeared that nothing had happened. However, back at the church, there was momentous explosion. When the dust cleared, a small red demon was sitting calmly in front of the astonished Allied team. The top paranormal expert on site, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, dubbed the creature “Hellboy”, and became the creature’s adopted father in the years that followed.

Nearly 50 years later, we find Hellboy still with the professor. Now fully grown, Hellboy works with the professor at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, as the Bureau’s top agent.

Most of Hellboy’s physical attributes stem from the fact that he is, in fact, a demon. He has red skin, cloven hooves for feet and a tail. He also has two flat circles on his head, which are actually the bases of the horns he would have, if he didn’t keep them filed down.

Although he is larger than a fully-grown adult, Hellboy still retains the mental maturity of a young man, and seems to not age past his physical prime. Perhaps his most distinguishing characteristic is his oversized right hand, which appears to be made of stone and is, for all intents and purposes, indestructible. Not only can he use this giant stone fist as a club in battle, but he also possess superhuman strength and resilience. Although he is not invulnerable, he can sustain injuries that would surely kill mortal men.

In the field, Hellboy sports a trench coat and an oversized revolver. He also carries a utility belt filled with charms and talismans that protect him from a variety of paranormal dangers.

At the conclusion of “Seed of Destruction”, Hellboy confronts Rasputin. The sorcerer tells him that he was summoned to command the forces of evil, including the Ogdru-Jahad, an enormous squid-like monster meant to bring about the destruction of the world.

In the ensuing battle, the Ogdru-Jahad and Rasputin are defeated, but only due to the last second intervention of Hellboy’s friends Abe Sapien, an intelligent fish-man, and Liz Sherman, a woman with unstable pyrokenetic abilities.

In a later issue, entitled “Wake the Devil”, Hellboy is confronted by the goddess Hecate. She reveals true name to be Anung Un Rama, which translates as “upon his brow is set a crown of fire.” Hecate reiterates to Hellboy that he is the destined to bring about the end of days, and explains to him that his right hand is actually the physical key to this. It is also revealed, albeit rather indirectly, that Hellboy was actually born to a human mother, while she herself was in hell.

Throughout his adventures, Hellboy battles a wide variety of paranormal creatures and beings, and time and time again seems to only narrowly escape with his life (and salvation).

In recent years, Hellboy has starred in several animated features, as well as in two major motion pictures, which star Ron Pearlman as Big Red himself.

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