October 26, 2019 · 3:52 pm
The more Hellboy I read, the more I appreciate the quality and depth of these graphic novels. This volume is brimming with literary and occult references: H.P. Blavatsky, the kabbalah, the tetragrammaton, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Conqueror Worm,” and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” just to name a few. So while the books can be enjoyed solely for the entertainment value and the artwork, there are also layers of references and symbolism that deeper readers will find engaging.
In the book, the conqueror worm becomes a symbol for the cyclical decline of the human race, out of which a new race of humans will ultimately evolve.
… and we are all to be nothing but food for a conquering worm. It’s true. The worm is ringing down the curtain on the human race. For a while now all will be gravel and smoke. But look back to the beginning. Mankind was born out of that kind of smoke. The first race of man, the pre-human Hyperboreans… and that was mankind’s golden age… And when the polar ice crushed that world, a new race of man raised itself up from the beasts. The second race. Human… Atlantis. Lemuria. Sumeria. Babylon. Human civilizations come and go, but the human race has endured. Down long, hard centuries…
(pp. 196 – 197)
A symbol that I find very fascinating is the crossroads, and Mignola uses it nicely in this text.
You are now standing at the very crossroads of your life. And all your roads lead to strange places.
This speaks to me on a personal and global level. From a personal perspective, I feel like I am at one of those points in my life where things are changing, and my life, stable for many years, is now filled with uncertainty and disruption. Not that this is bad, in fact it is good, but it is strange. And on the global level, I sense that the world is at a crossroads, that our entire reality is about to change, and we will all be thrust into a “strange place,” regardless of which road we collectively traverse. These are strange days, indeed.
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Tagged as ancient mariner, art, artwork, Atlantis, Babylon, Blavatsky, books, civilization, comics, conqueror worm, crossroads, cycles, Edgar Allan Poe, fantasy, geek, graphic novel, hellboy, humanity, Hyperborean, kabbalah, Lemuria, Mike Mignola, mysticism, myth, mythology, nerd, occult, omnibus, paranormal, pop culture, reading, review, rime, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, stories, Sumeria, symbol, symbolism, tetragrammaton, writing
August 31, 2019 · 7:40 pm
So over the years, I have read numerous off-shoot and stand-alone issues of Hellboy, but had not read the primary arcs, which was why I was excited when I heard they were publishing an omnibus series containing the complete saga. This first volume contains five stories, as well as some artist sketches and a little bit of history about the development of the characters and story. The stories are brimming with material that interests me: paranormal investigation, the occult, conspiracy theories, mythology, social criticism, and so forth. And the great storytelling is augmented with artwork that fits well with the overall theme. Also, what is so cool about this book is that Mike Mignola is both writer and artist, an impressive accomplishment.
While all the stories in this volume are great, I want to focus on the last one, “Almost Colossus,” which explores concepts of God, science, the relationship between creator and creation. It’s kind of like a reworking of the Frankenstein story.
Anyway, couple quotes that are worth sharing.
“Brother, you think these humans are our betters. Not so, believe me. We two are the triumph of science over nature. Mankind to us should be like cattle, ours to use for whatever purpose we decide. We are not monsters, but the future and the light of the world!”
Here we have a classic expression of hubris. The created, or creature, begins to feel superior to the creator, and employs scientific logic to back up the claim. I see this as symbolic of the human impetus to feel godlike through the acquisition of knowledge and power. And not just equal to God, but greater than God.
“Today the light of the world will be born again, and from this day forward mankind will bow and scrape before the God of Science.”
This is a definite reference to the Prometheus myth, as well as the myth of Lucifer as the light bearer. Science has replaced God for many people in this age. And although I consider myself a spiritual person, and have faith in a divine consciousness, I confess that I find myself irritated at people who disregard scientific evidence because it conflicts with their established religious beliefs. As much as I hate to admit it, I too often bow before the God of Science.
While this book has challenging ideas woven in, it is still a fun and entertaining read. If you are a fan of the graphic novel genre and have not read Hellboy, I highly recommend checking it out.
Thanks for stopping by, and have an incredible day.
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Tagged as art, artwork, books, comics, conspiracy, creation, fantasy, frankenstein, geek, god, graphic novel, hellboy, hubris, humanity, Lucifer, Mike Mignola, mysticism, myth, mythology, nature, nerd, occult, omnibus, paranormal, pop culture, Prometheus, reading, review, science, social criticism, stories, supernatural, writing
November 25, 2016 · 9:14 am
This tale is told over two issues, which I read consecutively. It’s kind of a cross between Indiana Jones and the X-Files, with Hellboy fighting Nazis who have reverse-engineered an alien craft and built a fleet of saucers which they plan to use to conquer the world and establish the 1000-year Reich.
Overall, the story was very entertaining, well-written, and the artwork was great. There were also a couple themes that were addressed that I found particularly interesting.
In the first installment, when Hellboy arrives with his field partner in the Arctic, the partner, who is black, is met with racial disdain.
Oh. Didn’t think they’d be sending a colored.
What I found most striking about this short scene is that while the U.S. was fighting against an enemy that was claiming racial superiority, people in the U.S. also had their prejudices and biases. And as proven by recent events, these prejudices are still thriving in our society.
The other part of this graphic tale that resonated with me was how myths and legends are used as symbols for aspects of human consciousness.
There are, of course, countless legends about the hollow earth, and hidden passages that connect one pole to the other. I had assumed these to be a metaphor for the hidden recesses of the human mind, but they may have been a material reality.
I am reminded of the classic Journey to the Center of the Earth. I have not read the book (yet), but watched the film numerous times as a kid, fascinated with the idea that hidden below the surface of the earth was an entirely different world, populated by dinosaurs. Now as an adult, I understand the metaphor. The center of the earth is a symbol for the center of our brains, the primordial root of our consciousness, the primal animalistic part of our psyches that exists in the amygdala within the limbic cortex. The dinosaurs symbolize our collective lizard brains, a residual that we never lost through our stages of evolution.
Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day!
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Tagged as 1000-year Reich, alien, amygdala, art, artwork, bias, BPRD, comics, consciousness, conspiracy, dinosaurs, earth, evolution, fantasy, film, geek, graphic novel, hellboy, hollow, Indiana Jones, Journey to the Center of the Earth, legends, limbic cortex, metaphor, mysticism, myth, Nazi, nerd, occult, paranormal, pop culture, prejudice, psyche, psychology, racism, reading, review, sci-fi, social issues, society, subconscious, symbol, symbolism, World War II, writing, x-files
September 23, 2016 · 7:23 am
On a recent visit to my local comic store, I was surprised that the owner had added this comic to my folder. I inquired about it and was informed that it was a short five-issue offshoot of the Hellboy saga and he thought I would like it. I figured I would give it a try. I’m glad that I did.
The story begins with young girls in Burma being kidnapped and sacrificed as part of a ritualistic ceremony. While this trope may seem a little hackneyed, the strength of the story is in the subtle details within the text. These I found intriguing, even in this short first installment.
Many mystical and spiritual traditions assert that sound or vibration brought everything into existence. In fact, energy, which is the basis of all life and existence, is vibration. This concept is hinted at during an invocation early in the story.
<You are the origin of all things, and devourer of all things.> <Your perfect song can be heard in the void, but also in the hum deep within all living things in this breathing world.> <Though having form, you are formless. Though you are without beginning, so are you without end.>
Also in the short passage, we have hints of Taoism, of form and formlessness combined into one. Additionally, I see references to the ouroboros, the powerful occult symbol of wholeness and infinity.
Racial and ethnic tensions seem to be running high these days, and this is hinted at in the story. There is a great panel where the British general expresses his racist views by asserting that it is one thing if Burmese children go missing, but British girls disappearing is unacceptable. This corresponds with the tendency in some places to show outrages at the death of a white person, but lack of concern over the death of a black person.
Yes, well, Burmese children might well wander away from home unattended. But two English girls missing is two too many.
Finally, in a nice twist, the strong lead character turns out to be a woman, which I love. We need more strong female characters. So while in the first part of the tale it appears that the lead characters are two men, it shifts and the main characters appear to be two women. I find this a nice balance of the masculine and feminine.
I want to close with one more quote from this issue, which resonated with me.
The world is a great deal stranger–and more dangerous–than most would credit, mon cher.
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Tagged as BPRD, comics, energy, eternity, fantasy, feminism, formless, forms, geek, graphic novel, hellboy, heroes, heroine, invocation, mysticism, nerd, occult, ouroboros, paranormal, pop culture, racism, reading, review, sci-fi, symbol, symbolism, tao, vibration, women, writing
May 21, 2016 · 6:36 am
For me, one of the problems with reading serialized arcs is that I don’t remember the nuances of previous installments. So for this arc, I decided to wait, collect the three issues, and then read them in one sitting. That worked really well for me.
In this tale, Hellboy and two other B.P.R.D. agents go to a small town in California to investigate the disappearance of several children and the mutilation of an adult. The encounter the monster responsible, which is actually a dog that mutated after eating some mysterious material that was the byproduct of a nuclear test. There is also Cold War conspiracy and intrigue woven in to the tale, which works nicely.
What I found most interesting about this series was the use of the fence as a symbol. The fence serves as a metaphor for what divides the two realms of reality, existence, consciousness, and so forth. On one side of the fence is the archetypical 1950’s community, but on the other side, chaos and the psychological uncertainty in the post World War II nuclear age. Also, there is the division between ordinary reality and alternate dimensions. The fence symbolically separates what we perceive in our normal state of consciousness and what lies beyond the veil in the subconscious regions of our psyches, Moving beyond the fence and exploring these areas of the subconscious can be terrifying and dangerous.
The writers and artists who collaborate on this do an amazing job of drawing on occult philosophies, symbolism, and thought. But it’s not just heady mysticism—the story is very good and engaging. It is well-written with excellent dialog, and the artwork is top-notch. I highly recommend reading these three issues if you have time. I suspect you will enjoy them as much as I did.
Cheers, and keep reading cool stuff.
Filed under Literature
Tagged as alternate reality, archetype, art, artwork, BPRD, chaos, cold war, comics, consciousness, conspiracy, fantasy, fence, geek, graphic novel, hellboy, metaphor, mutation, mysticism, nerd, nuclear, occult, paranormal, philosophy, pop culture, psyche, psychology, reading, review, sci-fi, subconscious, symbol, symbolism, World War II, writing
April 15, 2015 · 11:40 am
This issue concludes the mini-series. It is… OK. It did not suck, but it felt kind of rushed, like everything was quickly tied up in a neat little knot and really didn’t make a whole lot of sense in the larger story. It definitely felt anti-climactic for me. Probably my expectations were high, especially considering how good the initial issues were. Still, worth a read if you are a Hellboy fan. I’m curious to see how the 1953 series will be.
Not much else to say about this. Read on!
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Tagged as BPRD, comics, fantasy, geek, graphic novel, hellboy, nerd, paranormal, pop culture, reading, review, sci-fi
January 19, 2015 · 4:29 pm
So I just read an article on CNN’s website that FOX is considering rebooting The X-Files.
While it’s just a rumor, I can’t help feeling somewhat intrigued. I’ve loved the X-Files since it first started airing, and if you follow my blog, you know I am a fan of the current X-Files comic series also. I just hope that if they do revive it, they don’t just try to rehash old stuff and characters. There is a lot of interesting things happening in the world, and lots of new discoveries and theories in the field of science, I think that there is definite opportunity here for some creative exploration. I suppose we will have to wait and see.
What are your thoughts? Would you watch an X-Files reboot?
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Tagged as comics, conspiracy, David Duchovny, fox, geek, Gillian Anderson, mulder, nerd, paranormal, pop culture, reading, reboot, rumor, sci-fi, science fiction, scully, television, x-files
December 10, 2014 · 8:55 am
I happened upon this issue by chance, or maybe it was destiny. Regardless, I had been thinking about reading Hellboy comics because the one issue that I had picked up at Free Comic Day was so good. I also enjoyed the films, but since I felt I would be too far behind, I didn’t indulge myself. Then I spied this on the shelves while at the store and asked the woman there about it. She said it is a new series and a great spot to pick up, so I purchased a copy.
This new series will be comprised of a sequence of five-issue mini-series, each one covering one of the Hellboy’s early years at the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.), beginning in 1952.
In this issue, Hellboy is sent on his first assignment. He travels to Brazil with four other B.P.R.D. agents to investigate some mass murders believed to be committed by a “superhuman creature.” The team flies to a remote part of Brazil and gets situated in the home of an elderly woman. The village is located near an old Portuguese fort that had been converted into a prison, but was abandoned following an outbreak of illness that killed many villagers and inmates. The site is believed to be haunted.
The first installment basically is setting the stage and introducing the characters, which is great for me. The writing is good and I really like the artwork. The dark and drab color scheme evokes a sense of 1950’s noir mystery, but is then contrasted by the stark red color of Hellboy. It heightens the fact that he is not of this dimension and makes him visually stand out.
I am really looking forward to this series. I have only ever heard good things about Hellboy comics so I am eager to read more. Cheers!
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Tagged as 1952, art, BPRD, colors, comics, defense, geek, graphic novel, hellboy, mystery, nerd, noir, paranormal, pop culture, reading, research, review, writing
May 19, 2014 · 9:44 am
This issue concludes the six-part miniseries. While the series as a whole was a little goofy at times, overall it worked for me.
In this issue, the Lone Gunmen are reunited with Mulder and Scully as they race to prevent the spread of the genetically modified alien hybrid virus. The story works really well and concludes nicely. There is a twist at the end that draws on parallel universe theory in quantum physics, but that’s all I’ll say. You know how I feel about spoilers.
What really stood out for me in this issue, though, was the quality of the art work. It’s very good! There is one particular set of panels where Mulder is exploring a dark warehouse using a flashlight. The artist does a great job with light and shadow that evoked some of my favorite scenes from the television series. I’m no artist, but I understand that capturing the way light works is very difficult for a visual artist. Kudos to Stephen Downer and Chris Mowry for their work on this.
Reading this was welcome and refreshing, especially after reading the dismal X-Files 2014 Annual issue. I’m not sure if IDW plans to continue the Conspiracy series, but I hope so. I am, after all, a life-long X-Phile.
Links to my reviews of past X-Files Conspiracy issues:
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Tagged as aliens, art, books, comics, conspiracy, geek, genetics, graphic novel, light, lone gunmen, mulder, nerd, parallel universes, paranormal, physics, reading, sci-fi, science fiction, scully, virus, x-files
October 22, 2013 · 9:00 am
As it gets closer to Halloween, it’s only appropriate that Spooky Mulder makes an appearance.
The other day I called the comic store to see if the latest X-Files comic was in. I was told it was so I went over after finishing work. I experienced a moment of panic when I looked on the shelf and all the new issues were gone. I asked at the counter and thankfully they had put one aside for me. Thank you, Comic Envy!!
This installment is definitely interesting, but I am feeling like I need to go back and re-read the earlier issues. Some of the details from the earlier issues are getting a little foggy.
In this episode, Scully encounters an alien craft. Later, when she is relating her experience to the FBI panel, she states:
I cannot fully recall the events at Yellowstone. Nor can I say for certain what these acolytes truly wanted me for. It would seem their purpose was to show us something on some level beyond observations. Past the limits of normal memory and recall.
So far, this is the most thought-provoking section in the comic series, and finally something I deem intellectually worthy of The X-Files. Certain events can only be experienced when one is in an altered state of consciousness. It’s my belief that spiritual and paranormal experiences occur in these altered states and that when one returns to “normal” consciousness, one can no longer recall the details of the event. Likewise, communications between us and other entities that transpire in these states do not use language as we know it; rather, communication occurs using symbols that are perceived on a completely different psychic level. Anyway, Scully’s encounter and her inability to recall the details of what happened fall into this category of paranormal communication.
Scully also states: “There are forces out there who seek to alter our society… whose purpose, however cryptic and hidden, threatens our very existence.” This is true on multiple levels. Not to sound like a conspiracy nut, but there is no question that there are many organizations out there, each with their own agenda, who seek to alter our society. For this reason, vigilance is important. We must all pay attention to what is going on around us and ask questions. Don’t ever accept blindly what you are told. Doing so often leads to changes that are not in our interest.
Now, I can honestly say, I am eagerly awaiting issue #6.
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Tagged as aliens, comics, communication, conspiracy, geek, graphic novel, mulder, nerd, paranormal, pop culture, psychic, reading, sci-fi, science fiction, scully, society, subconscious, symbol, x-files
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