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Sunday, 9 October 2016

Comics Explained: Hellboy: Seed of Destruction

Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
Long time readers of this blog will know that every October I do the 'Month of Horror' where each week I do a blog post relating to the horror genre. This week we'll look at a comic story arc dealing with demons and monsters: Hellboy: Seed of Destruction. Hellboy is one of the most overlooked great comic book character and comes from one of the most overlooked comic book company (Dark Horse). Seed of Destruction is one of the best known of Hellboy's comics with it serving as the biggest influence by Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy. Mike Magnolia and John Byrne produced a dark and gripping tale which we shall go over today.

Chapter One
Hellboy against a Frog Monster
Seed of Destruction opens in 1944 as a group of US commandos go on a mission accompanied by a superhero called The Torch of Liberty; England's top medium, Lady Cynthia Eden-Jones; Professor Malcolm Frost of the Blackfriar's College; and a paranormal expert, Trevor Bruttenholm. On Tarmagant Island, a fictional small island off of the Scottish coast, Lady Cynthia predicted the apocalypse would start thanks to a Nazi project. They find the Nazis have started some ritual in a stone circle being led by a fabled mystic: Grigori Rasputin. Rasputin promised Hitler to use mysticism to win him the war with Project Ragna Rok. Using magical gauntlets he plans to bring the Ogdru Jahad, powerful Lovecraftian-esque demonic gods, from their magical prison and into the mortal world. Rasputin fails to summon the Ogdru-Jahad but he does summon a different being; a devil-like child the size of a monkey with a stone gauntlet for a hand. The Trevor Bruttenholm and the commandos take a photo of the new arrival naming him Hellboy.
The photo
Over the next fifty years Trevor Bruttenholm raises Hellboy as his son who ages at a slower rate than humans. Bruttenholm had himself and Hellboy working for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) fighting paranormal disturbances. In 1992 Bruttenholm had vanished on a mission in the Arctic circle. With three other people he investigated a cave at the north pole where they find a tentacled statue with a figure meditating at the bottom that seems almost alive. Upon touching the the statue he blanked out. Upon telling Hellboy this a plague of frogs from nowhere descends on them causing Bruttenholm to yell 'Save Yourself!' at his adopted son. Something suddenly kills Bruttenholm leaving hole-like markings on his dried out corpse. It soon transpires that a frog-humanoid monster had killed Hellboy's adopted father which Hellboy soon kills. Hellboy later rings the BPRD Director, Tom Manning, to inform him of what happened just as in a stately home a frog jumps into an old woman's teacup...

Chapter Two
Chapter 2
Searching for clues about his father's death Hellboy travels to the mansion of Lady Cavendish with his friends, (and BPRD members), Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien. Liz Sherman has pyrokinetic abilities who was taken in by the BPRD when, as a child, she lost control of her powers and, incinerated her parents, brother and pet dog. Meanwhile, Abe Sapien was originally a Victorian society who dabbled in the arcane arts. This caused him to become a fish-human hybrid and he was sealed away by his fellow cult members. With no memory of his old life the BPRD found him and named him 'Abe' as the date on his chamber was the date which Lincoln was assassinated on. With these two agents he starts to question Lady Cavendish. She reveals that she is the final heir of the Cavendish family after her two sons went with Bruttenholm on his polar expedition. It transpires that it is almost a curse for the Cavendish family to search for the temple as for the last nine generations all the Cavendish family members who searched for the temple went missing. The agents leave to their rooms as a shadowy figure says to Lady Cavendish: Children, come kiss your mother goodnight.

The three are escorted to their rooms by the Cavendish butler who Hellboy remarks that he looks exactly like the final person to search for the temple with Bruttenholm, Sven Olafsson. When free Abe jumps out of the window into the nearby lake to search for clues, (being able to breathe like a fish underwater), as Hellboy and Liz discuss the butler through a phone. Suddenly frogs enter Liz's room causing Hellboy to scream for her to get out. Upon finding her room empty he bumps into the butler and starts demanding answers only to see the butler transform into a frog monster. After a fight he apparently kills the frog.
Fighting the Frog
 Hellboy then finds Lady Cavendish dead with the same dried body, and hole marks than Bruttenholm had. As he laments the fact that he could not save her the dark figure from earlier makes himself know. The figure is revealed to be Rasputin who orders Hellboy to kneel before him. When he refuses tentacles burst from the floorboards and drags him underground. Meanwhile, Abe's searching in the lake makes him realize that the area is a place of death...

Chapter Three
Hellboy awakes under the manor realizing that he is in an Aztec temple. Rasputin informs him that the temple was built for the Ogdru-Jahad who the Aztecs thought could be appeased by blood sacrifice. He then informs Hellboy that he brought him into the world to act as a tool to unleash the Ogdru-Jahad; fifty years prior he had used the Nazis to achieve his own purpose of summoning the Ogdru-Jahad. Hellboy quickly shoots Rasputin in the face only to see that it did nothing causing Rasputin to send him flying across the room with a single curse, despite all the talismans that Hellboy had on him. Angry at Hellboy's defiance he orders Sven Olafsson, now transformed into a powerful frog monster, to attack Hellboy. As this is happening Abe discovers a tunnel to a series of subterranean caves where the two Cavendish boys, now frog monsters, were nursing the body of their mother who Rasputin ordered them to kill. Abe then discovers the body of the first Cavendish to search for the temple, (Elihu Cavendish).

As Hellboy is beaten by the Olafsson monster Rasputin begins lecturing him on his own backstory. After being shot, poisoned, stabbed, and thrown into a river by the Russian nobility he was resurrected by the Ogdru-Jahad as they saw him as the person to free them. For twenty years he lived in Italy until found by Heinrich Himmler. Himmler gave him to Hitler who wanted Rasputin to use magic to win him the war in Project Ragna Rok. After handpicking a select group he began preparations to free the Ogdru-Jahad, (not to help the Nazis but to bring about a new Eden). After summoning Hellboy, (something which he did not know about), and the fall of the Third Reich he went to the Arctic temple on the orders of the Ogdru-Jahad where he started meditating with the statue, (really a creature called Sadu-Hem). Trevor Bruttenholm's touch awakened him and searched through his memories where he learnt of Hellboy's existence. He manipulated Bruttenholm to bring Hellboy to Cavendish Hall where he planned to use him to release the Ogdru-Jahad. However, Liz's pyrokinetic powers could also be used. Rasputin had Olafsson kidnap Liz so he could channel her powers through himself and into a reawakened Sadu-Hem who would release the Ogdru-Jahad from their crystal prisons.
Chapter Four
The Ogdru-Jahad begin to awaken from their prisons as Liz's powers flow through Sadu-Hem and into the prisons. As this is happening an alien race watches the crystal prisons shake as they fear that once the Ogdru-Jahad destroy Earth they will turn their attention on the rest of the universe. Hellboy manages to force a concussion grenade down the throat of the Olafsson monster just as Rasputin starts the same spell that he used fifty years prior to release the Ogdru-Jahad. Suddenly, Abe appears possessed by a vengeful Elihu Cavendish and throws a spear at Rasputin piercing his chest. Rasputin's lapse in concentration causes an uncontrolled surge of Liz's powers which fries Sadu-Hem. Cavendish stops possessing Abe long enough for him to pull Liz from the power surge so she would not suffer the same fate as Sadu-Hem. The surge in energy starts to cause the cavern's collapse. Furious about being thwarted Rasputin tries to kill only to find he has spent too much of his energy. After failing to blackmail Hellboy by saying if he kills him Hellboy would never know his true purpose Hellboy crushes the monk's head with his stone right hand. As the BPRD agents wonder what Rasputin meant by Hellboy's true purpose a frozen castle's machines start to turn back on. A ice sheet cracks with Rasputin's disciples standing behind it...

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