“When’s the next omnibus coming out?” It’s a question I get a lot as a writer for Mignolaversity. For a long time the answer has been, ‘Just wait… soon,’ but lately it’s changed to ‘VERY soon.’
Starting next month we have a lot of Hellboy Universe library editions and omnibus editions coming out:
• November 8, 2017: “Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible – Volume 1” (Omnibus Edition, hardcover)
• December 27, 2017: “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth – Volume 1” (Omnibus Edition, hardcover)
• March 21, 2018: “Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible – Volume 2” (Omnibus Edition, hardcover)
• April 18, 2018: “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth – Volume 2” (Omnibus Edition, hardcover)
• May 23, 2018: “Hellboy – Volume 1: Seed of Destruction” (Omnibus Edition, paperback)
• Summer, 2018: “Hellboy – Volume 2: Strange Places” (Omnibus Edition, paperback)
• Summer, 2018: “Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories – Volume 1” (Omnibus Edition, paperback)
• Fall, 2018: “Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories – Volume 2” (Omnibus Edition, paperback)
• Fall, 2018: “Hellboy – Volume 3: The Wild Hunt” (Omnibus Edition, paperback)
• Winter, 2019: “Hellboy – Volume 4: Hellboy in Hell” (Omnibus Edition, paperback)
+ 3 more volumes of “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth” throughout 2018–19.
We’ll be getting at least thirteen omnibuses and one library edition in just under two years!
But, as you’ve probably already noticed, there’s some doubling up happening. There’s the “Hellboy in Hell” library edition, but there’s also the “Hellboy – Volume 4: Hellboy in Hell” omnibus edition. So which one should you get?
Hopefully, this’ll help you figure that out.
B.P.R.D. OMNIBUS EDITIONS
This is where it all began. After fourteen trade paperback volumes of “B.P.R.D.,” the series was getting a little difficult to manage. Volumes 1–8,10–12, and 14 were set in the 2000s following Hellboy’s departure from the Bureau, while Volumes 9 and 13 were flashbacks to the 1940s, not to mention Volume 12 was a collection of short stories set before, after, and during Volume 5. Oh, and there were some big changes coming that would make things even more confusing: “Hell on Earth.”
“B.P.R.D.” is a big series spanning multiple eras, and to make it more manageable, it made sense to split it up into smaller ‘story cycles.’ With a new cycle beginning called “Hell on Earth,” the old “B.P.R.D.” cycle needed a name too, so it was retroactively called “Plague of Frogs.” And what better way to cement that title than to release an iconic collection of books?
In January 2011 we got “B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs – Volume 1” in hardcover with an expanded sketchbook section and it was awesome. A new omnibus followed every eight to nine months until there were four of them. The stories had been reshuffled into chronological order for easy reading too.1 These collections really benefit from hindsight, presenting the books in the most accessible format, which is why they only ever come out after a story cycle was complete.
While the initial run was in hardcover, reprints of these omnibuses are paperbacks. It’s pretty hard to track down the hardcovers now. I get asked about this at least once week, verging on a near daily basis at times. As far as I know, there are no plans to reprint these omnibuses in hardcover. In the unlikely case that they do get reprinted, I’ll make sure everyone knows. (Hell, a hardcover box set would be pretty awesome.)
And later this year we’ll begin the five-volume series of “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth” omnibus editions. As always, there’s going to be a slight re-ordering (the final volume will collect trades 14, then 13, then 15 so as not to split up “End of Days” and “Cometh the Hour,” which are really one big story) and expanded sketchbook material as always. While only Volumes 1 and 2 have been given release dates so far, I imagine they’ll come out at a steady rate every four months or so. Expect Volume 3 around August 2018, Volume 4 around December 2018, and Volume 5 around April 2019. (I cannot stress enough that these are estimates only. Until an official announcement is made, consider these dates educated guesses at best.)Continued below
At the moment there are two orphaned trades: “B.P.R.D.: Being Human” and “B.P.R.D.: Vampire.” For now, “Being Human” is homeless because there’s no thematically appropriate home for it, but there’s new material coming all the time, so that may change.
As for “Vampire” the story simply can’t be collected in an omnibus yet because it’s not finished. Omnibuses only come along when a story cycle is done, and for now the “Vampire” cycle is still wide open.
And I think it’s a safe bet that we’ll get “B.P.R.D. The Devil You Know” hardcover omnibuses once that cycle wraps up too. However, considering we’re only two issues into the cycle so far, it is a very long way off yet.
ABE SAPIEN OMNIBUS EDITIONS
As well as “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth” omnibus editions, we’re also getting “Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible” omnibus editions. The first of these is coming out in November with a second volume in March completing the “Dark and Terrible” cycle, which runs in concert with the latter half of the “Hell on Earth” cycle.
Again, these are in hardcover and will feature expanded sketchbook sections—they are the deluxe presentation of the material from Volumes 3–8 of the trades.
So what about Volumes 1, 2, and 9 of the trades? No idea. But considering three is the perfect number of trades to collect in an omnibus, and these three trades are all thematically linked, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if they end up collected in a third “Abe Sapien” omnibus edition, though there might be a little wait on this one since the Volume 9 trade only came out three months ago. We’ll have to wait and see.
HELLBOY LIBRARY EDITIONS
OK, let’s set aside omnibus editions for now. We’ll come back to them though. Let’s talk about library editions.
The “Hellboy” library editions are the deluxe format for reading the “Hellboy” series. Like the “B.P.R.D.” and “Abe Sapien” omnibuses, they have expanded sketchbook sections. Hell, the sketchbook section is Volume 6 is an enormous 73 pages. Unlike the omnibus editions, they’re also oversized: 9.3 inches (23.6 cm) wide and 12.2 inches (31 cm) tall. Simply put, they are the best way to read “Hellboy”.
However, unlike the omnibus editions, the library editions came out while “Hellboy” was still being written. For the most part, a new library edition came out when there was simply enough material to fill a new volume.3 So you could read one library edition that follows the main plotline, and then suddenly veer into the past in the next volume to explore a bunch of shorter flashback stories. The library editions didn’t have the same benefit of hindsight that the omnibus editions had. It’s a different reading experience, that gives you a sense of when, where, and how the Hellboy Universe branches out and expands.
With “Hellboy in Hell” coming out in a library edition next month, I’ve seen a lot of people worried that certain stories will never be collected in a library edition. “Hellboy in Hell” has a certain finality to it. How can there be more?
What I find telling is the lack of a number on the “Hellboy in Hell” library edition. It isn’t “Hellboy – Volume 7,” it’s simply “Hellboy in Hell,” which gives Dark Horse license to do more library editions and yet still have “Hellboy in Hell” function as the final volume without it having to be literally the final published volume.
Personally, I don’t think we’re done with this format just yet, but we’ll have to wait and see. Perhaps when enough material accumulates, we’ll get another library edition.
HELLBOY OMNIBUS EDITIONS
Let’s start with Wednesday’s press release:
In 1994, Mike Mignola released the first Hellboy series, Seed of Destruction and introduced the world to the Right Hand of Doom, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, and one of the most iconic comic book characters—and universes—of all time. For more than 20 years, Mignola and a host of celebrated writers and artists have chronicled the adventures of Hellboy facing his supposed destiny as Beast of the Apocalypse, and explored the mysterious backstories of B.P.R.D. agents including Professor Trevor Bruttenholm and Abe Sapien. Now, for the first time ever, Dark Horse Books will publish Mike Mignola’s award-winning Hellboy stories in chronological order with the HELLBOY OMNIBUS COLLECTION, creating the definitive reading experience for Hellboy fans and an ideal entry point for new readers.
This major publishing initiative consists of four HELLBOY OMNIBUS volumes, featuring every Hellboy story written and illustrated by Mignola and The Wild Hunt storyline written by Mignola and illustrated by Duncan Fegredo, which is the basis for the forthcoming Hellboy film directed by Neil Marshall. In addition, Dark Horse will publish two volumes of HELLBOY: THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES featuring stories illustrated by artists including Richard Corben, Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon. Each of the six trade paperback books will feature new covers by Mignola and Eisner award-winning colorist Dave Stewart.
“I’m very excited to finally have all the Hellboy stories collected in chronological order,” said Mike Mignola. “And I’m especially excited to have the three Duncan Fegredo books—all the stuff with Alice and the Queen of Blood—together in one collection for the first time.”
Hellboy has appeared in graphic novels and comic books, prose novels and short story collections, two animated features, two live action films, toy lines and all manner of merchandise. Neil Marshall’s forthcoming Hellboy film is currently in pre-production, starring David Harbour, Sasha Lane, Ian McShane, Penelope Mitchell, and Milla Jovovich.
Each of the six trade paperback volumes will be priced at $ $24.99 US/$33.99 Canada. The first omnibus will be available in comic stores on May 23rd and in bookstores on June 5, 2018. Both HELLBOY OMNIBUS Volume 1 and HELLBOY: THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES Volume 1 are available for pre-order now.
OK, so a few things worth noting there. First, like other omnibus editions, with the benefit of hindsight, the stories have been shuffled into chronological order. However, these are paperback omnibuses right from the first print. This is not a deluxe presentation of the material, but rather an accessible presentation. For new readers—especially new readers that want to read “Hellboy” cheaply—this is the best way to get into the series.
Another thing worth noticing is the split: four volumes of “Hellboy” omnibus editions and two volumes of “Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories” omnibus editions. It’s functionally split like story cycles are in “B.P.R.D.” or “Abe Sapien.”
Right, let’s look at these volumes a little more closely…
The ultimate introduction to this supernatural hero features 16 standalone stories with Mignola’s greatest collaborators—stories that can be read in any order.
In 1994, Mike Mignola released the first Hellboy series, Seed of Destruction, as Hellboy faced his supposed destiny as Beast of the Apocalypse. Before that, he’d spent fifty years fighting monsters as a somewhat carefree member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. The Complete Short Stories Volumes 1 & 2 present those early adventures. “The Crooked Man” and “Double Feature of Evil,” both of which earned Mignola and his legendary collaborator Richard Corben Eisner Awards, are collected with the complete “Hellboy in Mexico” saga, featuring collaborations with Corben, Mick McMahon, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon, as well as one of Mignola’s early masterpiece, “The Corpse.” This 368-page volume covers Hellboy’s adventures from 1947 to 1961, reprinting stories from The Chained Coffin, The Right Hand of Doom, The Bride of Hell, The Crooked Man, The Troll Witch, and Hellboy’s childhood adventure, The Midnight Circus, drawn by Duncan Fegredo.
This one’s pretty straight forward. There’s no ambiguity about story order, so these are the sixteen stories we’ll be getting:
• “Pancakes” (1947)
• “The Midnight Circus” (1948)
• “The Nature of the Beast” (1954)
• “King Vold” (1956)
• “Hellboy in Mexico” (1956)
• “Hellboy versus the Aztec Mummy” (1956)
• “Hellboy Gets Married” (1956)
• “The Coffin Man” (1956)
• “The Coffin Man 2: The Rematch” (1956)
• “House of the Living Dead” (1956)
• “The Crooked Man” (1958)
• “The Penanggalan” (1958)
• “The Corpse” (1959)
• 1994 Promotional Comic (1959)
• “Double Feature of Evil” (1960)
• “The Iron Shoes” (1961)
While the 1994 Promotional Comic wasn’t specifically mentioned, it does take place chronologically in this book, and without it we don’t hit sixteen stories, so I figure it must be in there.
Featuring “The Hydra and the Lion,” “The Troll Witch,” “The Baba Yaga,” “The Sleeping and the Dead,” “Heads,” “Goodbye Mister Tod,” “The Vârcolac,” “The Vampire of Prague,” “The Bride of Hell,” “The Whittier Legacy,” “Buster Oakley Gets His Wish,” “They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships,” “A Christmas Underground”, “Dr. Carp’s Experiment,” “The Ghoul,” “In the Chapel of Moloch,” and “Makoma.”
These stories will mostly appear in the order listed above, except for perhaps “The Vârcolac” and the “The Vampire of Prague.” The events of “The Vampire of Prague” occurred in August, 1982, while “The Vârcolac” was set in November, 1982. Also the 1993 Promotional Comic is missing, although considering it doesn’t really have a name, it’s hard to list in a publicity blurb without drawing too much attention to itself, and considering the 1994 promo is probably in Volume 1, I fully expect the 1993 promo to be in this volume.
Those of you that know your “Hellboy” short stories will have noticed there are actually several short stories missing from “The Complete Short Stories” volumes. Actually the title is a little bit of a misnomer for the sake of simplicity. “The Complete Short Stories” cover everything from 1947 to 1993. Anything from 1994 onward is in the regular “Hellboy”-branded omnibuses.
May 23, 2018
The story jumps from Hellboy’s mysterious World War II origin to his 1994 confrontation with the man who summoned him to earth, and the earliest signs of the plague of frogs. Avoiding his supposed fate as the herald of the end of the world, Hellboy continues with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, fighting alongside Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, and drafting Roger Homunculus into his own ill-fated service with the B.P.R.D. This 368-page volume covers Hellboy’s adventures from 1994 to 1997, reprinting Seed of Destruction, Wake the Devil, and “Wolves of St August,” “The Chained Coffin,” and “Almost Colossus,” from The Chained Coffin and The Right Hand of Doom.
The order here is pretty obvious too:
• “Seed of Destruction”
• “The Chained Coffin”
• “The Wolves of Saint August”
• “Wake the Devil”
• “Almost Colossus”
Hellboy loses faith in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense when they strap a bomb to one of his fellow not-quite-human agents. He gets answers about his destiny, like it or not, in over 300 pages of comics mostly drawn by Mignola, featuring award-winning guests Gary Gianni and Richard Corben. This 416-page volume covers Hellboy’s adventures from 1998 to 2005, reprinting Conqueror Worm, Strange Places, Into the Silent Sea, and “The Right Hand of Doom,” “Box Full of Evil,” and “Being Human” from The Right Hand of Doom and B.P.R.D. Being Human.
Like the promo comics in “The Complete Short Stories” volumes, I think there’s possibly an invisible story in this collection. “Abe Sapien versus Science” is a short story that explains how Roger woke up following the events of “Almost Colossus,” so for a chronological collection, I could see how it could be included, even if it’s technically not a “Hellboy” story, so I’ll put a question mark next to this one.
Here’s the order:
• “The Right Hand of Doom”
• “Box Full of Evil”
? “Abe Sapien versus Science”
• “Being Human”
• “Conqueror Worm”
• “The Third Wish”
• “The Island”
• “Into the Silent Sea”
The basis for the upcoming Hellboy feature film! Terrible powers determined to kill Hellboy force him strike a deal with the Russian witch, the Baba Yaga, and to confront the truth about his destiny. The human race hangs in the balance, as well as King Arthur’s sword Excalibur, in a story that wipes England off the map and sets in motion the end of the world … Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo’s complete trilogy is collected for the first time in this 512-page volume, reprinting Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt, and The Storm and the Fury, and the short story “The Mole.”
I just want to point out, these books are coming out fast. “The Complete Short Stories” omnibuses are even overlapping with the standard “Hellboy” omnibuses. And I think this volume is why. Fall 2018 is around the time the new Hellboy film will probably be coming out and you can bet this omnibus with be sitting on the shelf with a sticker on its cover declaring, ‘The book that inspired the motion picture!’ If you want to know who these omnibuses are for, it’s for those new readers fresh off the Hellboy film.
The complete collection in chronological order in easily affordable paperback omnibuses just makes sense.
Consider one more thing: all other omnibus editions have prominently proclaimed they have a sketchbook section, and not just any sketchbook section, an expanded sketchbook section. It’s a major selling point for those books. So I did a quick check. This 512-page volume collects 504 pages of story. Once you add a title page and publishing information, there’s simply no room left for a sketchbook section of any kind.
If sketchbooks are your jam, then these books aren’t for you. (But the library editions definitely are.)
Hellboy in Hell, “The Exorcist of Vorsk,” “The Magician and the Snake.”
This omnibus edition collects only two trades of material. It is basically the same content as the “Hellboy in Hell” Library Edition, although with the addition of “The Magician and the Snake,” a story that isn’t even in the continuity of the Hellboy Universe. However, the Hellboy Universe references this story as a way to explore metatextual connections in Mignola’s body of work. “The Magician and the Snake” iconography becomes a shorthand for certain themes or ideas (which I refuse to name, because I think they’re very much up to the interpretation of each reader, and I don’t want to take that away from anyone). A new reader is not going to get those references without having read “The Magician and the Snake,” so it makes sense to collect it in this volume, otherwise Dark Horse’ll end up with a lot of people kinda going, ‘So, er, what was with those shapes?’ However, “Hellboy” Library Edition owners will almost certainly own a copy of “The Amazing Screw-on Head and Other Curious Objects.” We’ll get the references.
That said, if some day Mike Mignola has written a bunch of odd stories with no real place to call home, I’d totally buy a library edition with those and the Screw-on Head stuff. Like, I’d pre-order now if I could.
So, hopefully that puts this recent announcement in perspective.
Oh, OK. I guess I’m not done yet after all.
There is another question I get a lot: ‘Will there be “Witchfinder” / “Lobster Johnson” / “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” omnibus editions?’ And this I usually avoid answering if I can. The thing is, Mike Mignola and Scott Allie are proud of the omnibus editions they’ve made, and there is definitely the will to make more, but it’s always going to depend on whether the format is still viable years from now.
And none of these stories have ended yet. “Lobster Johnson” has only covered years 1932 to 1937 of his career. There’s still mileage there for more books. I mean, of all the series running now, I think it’s the title most likely to go to omnibus editions next and it is clearly still several years away from happening at least.Continued below
Sir Edward Grey’s story in “Witchfinder” spans many more years. From 1879 to 1889 he was in service to Queen Victoria and so far we’ve only covered up to 1882. I imagine you could easily fill several omnibuses covering that period of his life alone, but then he joins the Silver Lantern Club (where he meets Sarah Jewell) and adventures with them until 1908. That’d make a hell of a series, and I bet that series’d make some nice omnibuses too. Oh, then he hunts the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra in New York and Chicago from 1914 to 1916. (Old Sir Edward sounds awesome, by the way. He chased a ‘curious, amphibious, horse-like creature’ from Central Park to the Hudson. He was quite the celebrity.) Seriously, we’ve seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Sir Edward. And that’s not even covering his time as an undead sorcerer.
As for “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.,” that’s pretty open. It basically spans 1952 to 1993. No, I don’t think every year in there is going to get filled in—I expect time jumps at some point—but like all other omnibuses, I expect that if we get omnibuses at all, it’ll be at the end of a story cycle. Right now, the ‘Occult Cold War’ is just beginning, and I don’t think it’ll end anytime soon. When it does though, I reckon it’d make a nice collection of omnibuses.
As for everything else—and there is a lot of everything else—maybe we’ll start to see omnibuses that are based on thematic connections more than series connections. “Sledgehammer 44” doesn’t fit alongside anything right now, but perhaps it’d go well with some other World War II stories, like “Rasputin: The Voice of the Dragon.”
But don’t expect random stories to get slapped together into an omnibus just because together they’d fill a book. The Hellboy Universe has never done that. It’s part of what makes the omnibus collections feel so cohesive and special. They don’t half-ass these things.
1 There was one tiny error in the chronology. “Born Again,” the short story at the beginning of Volume 2, should have been collected in Volume 1, right after “Another Day in the Office” and before “Plague of Frogs.”
2 Once a series has been collected into omnibus format, the trades are not reprinted. This is why the “1948” and “Being Human” trades are unnumbered, and why reprints of “1946” and “1947” removed the numbering on their spines post 2011. New readers would have been confused by the apparently missing 12 volumes.
3 The exception being Duncan Fegredo’s “Darkness Calls,” “The Wild Hunt,” and “The Storm and the Fury,” which were collected back to back so as to optimize the reading experience.