Gore may not be the first thing to come to mind when most people think of Mike Mignola's long-running Hellboy comic series from Dark Horse, but the R-rating of Neil Marshall's film adaptation is a reminder that there are plenty of violent Hellboy moments in the comics. In order to fight monsters, you sometimes have to become a monster. Disturbing scenes are present even in ordinary superhero series, let alone horror comics like Hellboy. While Mignola's comics may emphasize atmosphere, there's no shortage of graphic imagery within their pages, from Hellboy's appearance on Earth during WWII to his apocalyptic fight with the Blood Queen to his adventures in Hell itself.
The most violent Hellboy scenes from Seed of Destruction to Hellboy in Hell and beyond certainly set the groundwork for Marshall's motion picture.
Not all of the barbaric moments in Hellboy are grand or epic. In "The Corpse," one of the earliest Hellboy short stories, he makes an enemy in Gruagach, a fairy who he singes with iron and who is ultimately transformed into a pig-man. Gruagach leads the other fairies to resurrect Nimue, the Queen of Blood. When he realizes what he has wrought, however, Gruagach attempts to take his own life only to find that a curse placed on him by Merlin has made him immortal.
When Hellboy comes across Gruagach, he attempts to put his old enemy out of his misery, but even emptying a clip into the pig-man isn't enough to do the trick. Though he has done terrible things, his end - or lack thereof - is heartbreaking.
In the standalone story "The Wolves of Saint August," originally published in 1994, Hellboy and Dr. Kate Corrigan (in her first appearance in the comics) go up against the last scion of a family of werewolves. "I am much sinned against," William Grenier says when he finally confronts Hellboy after some spooky encounters with werewolf ghosts. Then, he proceeds to open up a gash in his forehead and peel off his own skin, revealing the gigantic werewolf beneath.
In the fight that ensues, Hellboy puts out one of Grenier's eyes with the thrown head of a statue and knocks him with a metal cross, leaving red, cross-shaped marks immortalized in an unforgettable, unused cover image.
Hellboy rides out with the titular hunting party in The Wild Hunt and is betrayed with an electrified lance. When he comes to, he is surrounded by a band of giants who have slain the rest of the members of the Hunt. In one of the worst encounters of his career, Hellboy flies into a rage, takes up the broken sword of one of the giants, and slays all of them.
Throughout the comics, Hellboy's most persistent foe has been Rasputin. Historically difficult to end, Rasputin has been a thorn in Hellboy's side since the beginning. It was Rasputin who first brought Hellboy to Earth as part of Project Ragnarok, and the two have crossed proverbial (and sometimes literal) swords many times since.
Their first face-off takes place in the pages of Seed of Destruction, the first Hellboy mini-series from 1994. It is during this fight, as Rasputin attempts to awaken a sleeping Ogdru-Hem monster, that he perishes for the first time in the comics. But this is Rasputin we're talking about; he's difficult to put down and usually doesn't stay down for long. Abe Sapien impales him with a harpoon, while Liz Sherman's pyrokinetic powers bring down all of Cavendish Hall before Hellboy finally dukes it out with the fire-breathing skeleton of Rasputin, who warns, "If you [slay] me you will never know who you are!"
"Yeah, you're right," Hellboy replies, "But I can live with it."
"This is not the end!!" Rasputin's skull insists just before Hellboy smashes it with his Right Hand of Doom. "It is for you," Hellboy counters, though readers of the comics know it's harder than that to keep a bad sorcerer down.