More and more comic books and graphic novels are becoming source material for films and television series. This is a natural trend since many of them crate fantastic worlds of imagination, danger and romance, all the ingredients a good story requires. In 2004 one of the strangest and darkest of comic heroes was brought to the big screen, Hellboy. He is a demon; huge in size, bright red with horns, tail and a stone like right hand. He does sound more like the bad guy but you have to remember that he also is a devoted adopted son, devote Catholic and has a great deal of affection towards cats. He came from the creative mind of Mike Mignola while he was working for Dark Horse Comics. For years he was an underground sensation whose fans were elated when the announcement of the live action feature film was announced. It has been four years since the film came out but the people behind it have not been sitting still. A sequel to the film, ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ is set for release in a couple of weeks and many, myself including are looking forward to it. In the intervening years their cast and crew have released two animated features in the same Hellboy universe; ‘Hellboy Animated: Blood & Iron’ and ‘Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms’. Both of these films were released to DVD through Anchor Bay last summer but in honor of the upcoming new live action movie they are being re-released in a special limited edition. Okay, it is not so much an honor as it is a marketing ploy but it comes out as a great deal for fans that may have missed the original animated DVD releases.
Originally Hellboy was brought to this earthly plane by Nazi scientists working with Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin on using the occult to further the goals of the Third Reich. The experiment was interrupted by American troops who brought along Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (voiced John Hurt). He adopted the little red infant and the pair bounded as father and son. In an attempt to look more human, as if that was possible, he files down his massive horns to little stumps. As he grew Hellboy (voiced by Ron Perlman) became a key operative for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), a top secret government agency that defends the country and the world form all sorts of supernatural and demonic menaces. There are several human and humanoid members of the team; each providing a certain expertise. Abe Sapien (voiced by Doug Jones) is an amphibious man who although is able to survive for some amount of time out of the water he is naturally more at home submerged. His ability is that of very highly developed psychic powers. He is brilliant, loves to read and somewhat philosophical by nature. Doctor Kate Corrigan (voiced by Peri Gilpin) is a professor at New York University whose specialty is folk lore, mythology and the occult. She is second to Bruttenholm in the BRPD. Oe of the younger members of the team is Liz Sherman (voiced by Selma Blair). She has pyrokinetic abilities, creation of fire and extreme heat with her mind. As a little girl this often placed those closest to her in danger. Over time and with the training of the BPRD she has gained a larger degree of control although the manifestation of the power is tied to her emotional state. Hellboy is in love with her. Since he is by nature fireproof it would seem a great match. Unfortunately for ‘Big Red’ Liz views their relationship in the terms every guy with a beautiful female friend hates to hear; she loves him like a brother.
Directed by Victor Cook
Written by Mike Mignola, Tad Stones and Kevin Hopps
The story begins with Hellboy in a sewer wading through the muck and mire. He is attacked by a mechanical inotaur while a mysterious woman looks on. Abe joins in distracting the robotic creature while Hellboy moves in for the kill. The woman is Erzsebet Ondrushko, a vampire who retains her youthful appearance by bathing in the blood of innocent victims. While investigating a haunted house the Professor and the team learn the ghosts are all victims of Erzsebet. She plans to have her minions resurrect them to help control the world.
This disc has plenty of extras to keep the fans happy.
Directed by: Phil Weinstein and Tad Stones
Written by: Written by Mike Mignola, Tad Stones and Matt Wayne
In this story a Japanese professor of folklore named Professor Sakai becomes possessed by the ancient Japanese demon of thunder and lightening. Their nefarious goal is to use the professor to bring to the earth realm their brother demons collectively called the Dragons. After the professor attacks one of his associated the BPRD is called in to investigate. Hellboy and Kate are dispatched to look into the sudden and unexplained attack. While investigating Hellboy discovers a samurai sword and when he picks it up is transported to a strange world populated by characters from Japanese mythology. He has to befriend some of the characters while fighting others as he tries to return to the real world. Meanwhile in our realm Kate is now joined with a physic Russell Thorne, a member of the BPRD who is more concerned with his personal safety than the mission. They go after the possessed professor while Liz and Abe are trapped on an island battling the Dragon demons.
This disc also sports a good selection of extras.
Both of these are still available as separate DVD releases from Anchor Bay. If you are willing and able to spring for about five bucks more you can get the limited edition set. This has both discs as well as a collectable Hellboy figure. It stands about seven inches tall and comes with a removable hand, gun in holster and a sword. If you are a collector of comics and graphic novels then there is an excellent chance that you are no stranger to figures like this. Of course when your wife or girlfriend asks about the toy in the boy just tell them it’s a collectable. These animated features are fairly true to the graphic novels and consistent with the life action films. It is also great to get you ready for the new movie coming out.