Please note, this column contains spoilers for those that have not yet read up to and including Abe Sapien: The New Race of Man.
The First Race of Man:
In their capital city, Gorinium, the Hyperboreans kept their most sacred object: The right hand of the Watcher, Anum (He’s the one that created the Ogdru Jahad). The hand was preserved in amber and kept in a golden bowl. In the last ten thousand years of the empire, Thoth became king. Thoth is considered to be Hyperborea’s greatest ruler, credited with inventing the written word, and the era of his reign is called the Golden Age of the Hyperboreans. Thoth had a statue made, and put Anum’s hand within it, where it remained for the duration of his rulership.
When Thoth awoke, he learned of Hecate’s deception. He cursed her and drove her from the city, but the damage had already been done. The men that had come to learn in Thoth’s temple would eventually become the kings and priests of the later Hyperborean empire after the fall. They burned children alive inside idols to Neb-ogeroth, the Black Goddess. They poisoned the land and the air, and brought earthquakes, famine, and plague.
Eventually the People of the Right Hand used their powers to leave the world, but the People of the Left Hand descended into the inner world. There they built war machines so that one day they could return to the surface and reclaim the world they lost. They created a race of slave creatures to build their machines, but the slaves rebelled against their masters and slaughtered them all.
And so ended the first race of man.
The Second Race of Man:
Humans have proved to be a resilient race. They have been the prey of vampires, monsters, and fey creatures throughout the centuries, but over time, they have turned the tables. Vampires were hunted to near extinction, monsters forced into hiding, and the fey have faded from the world altogether. This dominance has exposed a weakness though. The human race has a short memory. As creatures vanish, they pass into myth, and we forget they were ever real in the first place. It was this flaw that caused humans to forget about the old gods, the Ogdru Hem, and fail to recognise the signs of their return until it was far too late.
In B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth events have progressed so far, it seems humanity’s ultimate doom is certain. All that remains to be seen is how we shall face it. Many have died in Ogrdu Hem attacks, or by the monsters or natural disasters that follow in their wake. Others have turned on each other, creating cults offering human sacrifices to their gods. The end has brought out the worst in people, becoming suspicious and violent.
But it has also brought out the best. This is perhaps why I’ve enjoyed the shift of focus from the enhanced talents agents to the regular human agents. It’s a chance to see up close how humankind steps up to the plate in the face of disaster. Honestly, at this point I think this series is not so much about whether humanity lives or dies, but rather how we choose to face our end.
This outcome will not be insignificant. Hellboy’s battle with Nimue in The Fury changed things. His blood has “baptised” England, and shall transform it into a garden, the last garden on Earth. People will have dreams of this garden, and will travel to England to find it. And in this garden will grow lilies just like those that once grew around the statue that contained Anum’s hand. Hellboy’s sacrifice has given humanity time, not to save itself, but rather to see that the spirit of humanity survives into the new world.Continued below
What this means is anyone’s guess. One thing has been repeatedly made clear throughout Mignola’s works: Ragna Rok is coming, and it shall end the world, and from the ashes a new world shall be born.
The Final Race of Man:
The frog monsters of Sadu-Hem would re-emerge many years later in B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs, and just as the title would suggest, this time it resulted in the beginning of a plague of them. These frog monsters, though primitive in appearance, were surprisingly developed. They remembered the old gods, and made sacrifices to them. They could communicate with each other, not just through spoken word, but also through the written word, which seemed to be a part of them on a genetic level. Even a frog raised in isolation could write. The first generation frogs, which were created from humans transformed, were capable of changing themselves back to their former human selves as a disguise, adopting the behaviour of humans to the point that they were unrecognisible from the real thing. The human element may be more than just a disguise though.
In B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs Roger was sent back to Cavendish Hall site to see if he could find any sign of the two Cavendish brothers that had been turned into frogs back in May 1994. They were supposed to have been killed when the building was destroyed, but it had never been confirmed. Roger’s investigation uncovered a cavern at the bottom of a lake decorated with pictures and furniture recovered from the ruined Hall. In the centre of it all, sitting on a couch, was the corpse of the Cavendish brothers’ mother. When the Cavenish frog monsters showed up, Roger was forced to fight, and in the chaos the mother’s corpse lost its head. The two frog monsters immediately stopped fighting and seemed to be in some sort of distress. Whatever they had become, it was clear there was still a spark of them that cared for their deceased mother. Could this flicker of humanity be a glimpse of the spirit of man that will carry on beyond Ragna Rok?
Early in the frog war Zinco Industries managed to get their hands on some tadpoles, and from them raised frog monsters that were pacified, trained, and had been taught to use a muzzle-like device that allowed them to speak English. These frogs were clever, frequently smuggling sharp objects into their cells despite various precautions taken. The Zinco CEO, Mr Pope, thought he was using these frogs, but it turned out they were using him, and were far smarter than they had let on. With Mr Pope functioning as a host, they created black flame, which they used as a beacon to summon Katha-Hem.
In B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess the subterranean race and the frogs monsters attack the city of Thadrethes in the Stanovov Range. Using Vril energy, Memnan Saa was able to change some of the frogs into dragons during this battle and turn them on their own kind. This battle severely depleted the frogs’ numbers.
The remaining frogs returned underground, most turning themselves into incubators for a new generation of frogs, which would number “a billion times a billion” (a quintillion, which is quite a considerable number, so this is likely an exaggeration). They looked posed to take over the planet until Liz torched the inner world at the end of B.P.R.D.: King of Fear. All the frogs and their allies were roasted.
Or were they? In B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Engine it was revealed that Zinco Industries still had a frog… although that frog was later killed by the Black Flame when it returned in B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master. Was this Zinco’s only frog though?
And then there’s the matter of Abe Sapien, called by the King of Fear a “child of Dagon.” According to the Black Flame, Abe Sapien is what the frog monsters will evolve into in a few thousand years. The similarity between Abe and the frog monsters is something that has haunted Abe ever since he first encountered them at Cavendish Hall, though he was unwilling to believe this. However, the Black Flame was insistent that Abe will be the centre of power throughout Ragna Rok and into the New World.
When Abe met the sixteen-year-old psychic, Fenix, she at least was convinced enough of Abe’s danger to the world that she attempted to kill him. Instead of killing him though, his injury became the catalyst of change for Abe. When he awoke four months later (though for readers it was a long two years), his new body was faster, stronger and far more resilient than it ever was before.
These guys were introduced on a single page all the way back in Hellboy’s debut miniseries Seed of Destruction, and readers have never really forgotten them. In their first appearance, the aliens were rather concerned with Rasputin shaking the Ogdru Jahad in its prison, and seemed to know all about the threat the Ogdru Jahad poses and exactly what Hellboy’s hand is. Most interestingly, they refer to Earth as “the core-world.”
Aside from a brief cameo in 2011’s Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish, this was the last time the aliens appeared, although this wasn’t always supposed to be the case. At one point Mignola was developing a story about one of the aliens, but it was abandoned with the end result that sci-fi wasn’t really his thing.
What do you think?