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    Mignolaversity: The Hellboy Universe Reading Order ― 2017

    By | June 7th, 2017
    Posted in Annotations | 29 Comments

    Mignolaversity Logo

    With Mike Mignola’s Hellboy Universe now spanning over seventy trade paperbacks, it can be a little intimidating, especially for new readers. Fortunately, the Hellboy Universe is designed to work from many different starting points. Pick a series—“Hellboy,” “B.P.R.D.,” “Witchfinder,” “Lobster Johnson”—they’re all good starting points. Just follow the numbers on the spines of the trades. And many of these series can be read in isolation from the others. You don’t need to read “Hellboy” to read “Lobster Johnson.”

    However, there is a certain joy in starting from the beginning and working your way through the whole line of books. That’s what this reading order is for. It’s made with the big collections in mind (the library editions and omnibus editions). You simply pick up a book, read it cover to cover, then move on to the next. No switching books halfway through.

    This is not the official reading order, it’s simply one way to explore the Hellboy Universe. Discovery is meant to be a part of the reading experience. As editor Scott Allie said to me once, ‘Different reading orders will tell different stories, the surprises will be in different places. Everyone’s experience will be different.’ So don’t be afraid to explore a little bit; this is not a rigid reading order.

    The Hellboy Universe Reading Order ― 2017 (Part 1)
    The Hellboy Universe Reading Order ― 2017 (Part 2)
    The Hellboy Universe Reading Order ― 2017 (Part 3)
    The Hellboy Universe Reading Order ― 2017 (Part 4)



    • Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
    • Hellboy: Wake the Devil


    • Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others
    • Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom


    • Hellboy: Conqueror Worm
    • Hellboy: Strange Places

    Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea (OGN)


    • Hellboy: The Crooked Man and Others
    • Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others


    • B.P.R.D.: Hollow Earth & Other Stories
    • B.P.R.D.: The Soul of Venice & Other Stories
    • B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs


    • B.P.R.D.: The Dead
    • B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs
    • B.P.R.D.: The Black Flame


    • B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine
    • B.P.R.D.: Garden of Souls
    • B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground


    • Hellboy: Darkness Calls
    • Hellboy: The Wild Hunt


    • “How Koshchei Became Deathless”
    • “Baba Yaga’s Feast”
    • Hellboy: Weird Tales – Volume 1 (Out of continuity)
    • Hellboy: Weird Tales – Volume 2 (Out of continuity)

    Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels

    Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever

    Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland

    Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand

    Lobster Johnson: Satan Smells a Rat

    Lobster Johnson: Get the Lobster

    Continued below

    Lobster Johnson: A Chain Forged in Life
    (Coming March 2018)

    Lobster Johnson: The Pirate’s Ghost and Metal Monsters of Midtown
    (Coming December 2017)

    Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus

    Sledgehammer 44



    • B.P.R.D.: 1946
    • B.P.R.D.: 1947
    • B.P.R.D.: 1948

    B.P.R.D.: Vampire

    Hellboy: The Midnight Circus (OGN)

    Hellboy in Mexico

    Frankenstein Underground

    Abe Sapien: The Drowning

    Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest and Other Stories

    B.P.R.D.: Being Human


    • B.P.R.D.: The Warning
    • B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess
    • B.P.R.D.: King of Fear


    • Hellboy: The Storm and the Fury
    • Hellboy: The Bride of Hell and Others


    (Coming December 2017)
    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: New World
    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Gods and Monsters
    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Engine & The Long Death

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror & Others

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master


    (Coming October 2017)
    • Hellboy in Hell: The Descent
    • Hellboy in Hell: The Death Card

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: A Cold Day in Hell

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Lake of Fire

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Reign of the Black Flame


    (Coming November 2017)
    Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible and The New Race of Man
    Abe Sapien: The Shape of Things to Come
    Abe Sapien: Sacred Places

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Wings

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Flesh and Stone

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Metamorphosis


    (Coming 2018)
    Abe Sapien: A Darkness so Great
    Abe Sapien: The Secret Fire
    Abe Sapien: The Desolate Shore

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Exorcist

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: End of Days

    B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Cometh the Hour

    Witchfinder: City of the Dead

    Rise of the Black Flame

    Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1952

    Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953

    Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1954
    (Coming January 2018)

    The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed
    (Coming October 2017)

    Abe Sapien: Lost Lives and Other Stories
    (Coming June 2017)

    Continued below


    “Baltimore” and “Joe Golem” aren’t included in the reading order because they aren’t a part of the Hellboy Universe. “The Amazing Screw-on Head” isn’t in there either, although I would suggest reading it before “Hellboy in Hell” just to give the ending some context.

    I’ve only included stories in continuity. I made an exception for the “Hellboy: Weird Tales” omnibus edition because it collects the short stories “How Koshchei Became Deathless” and “Baba Yaga’s Feast.” This list does not include things like “Hellboy Junior” or any “Hellboy” crossovers.

    If there’s anything else you want to know, the Hellboy Wiki is a helpful resource.

    //TAGS | Hell Notes | Mignolaversity

    Mark Tweedale

    Mark writes Hell Notes, The Harrow County Observer, and The Damned Speakeasy. An animator and an eternal Tintin fan, he spends his free time reading comics, listening to film scores, and consuming the finest dark chocolates. You can find him on Twitter here.


    • Giomson

      Thank you, as always for the updated reading order! I have two questions about it right here. I only recently started to read the whole Hellboy Universe from scratch and I am currently stuck at B.P.R.D Vampire, which seems to be out of print. Do you know if that will be back in print soon? I would hate to miss it in my collection going forward. Also, concerning the Abe Sapien Collections: will there be a third omnibus collecting the rest or should I go forward in buying the first ones in TPB?

      • C. Ax

        The vampire book is available digitally

      • suicidalpixel

        I believe we’ll see continuation of the Vampire storyline (trilogy?). So my guess is that paperback will be reprinted around that time, if not sooner. But you are not missing much if you skip it for now. It will read much better when the story is complete.

      • Mark Tweedale

        All of Abe Sapien is destined for omnibus editions eventually.

        Vampire willeventually go bank into print, but I’ve no idea when.

      • Giomson

        Thank you for your answers. So that means a whole lot of waiting, but it should be worth it. I will leave Vampire for now and hope the story gets concluded soon. Digital is not an option for me. I have not arrived in the digital world of comics yet and I think I might never get there. I like having tons of heavy books for every time I’m moving house 😉

        • Mark Tweedale

          I’m with you. Digital is a compromised experience.

    • Jeremy Telio

      What about the story “They that go down to the sea in ships”

      • Mark Tweedale

        Collected in the Hellboy – Volume 4 library edition

    • C. Ax

      Any reason that Abe Sapien TPB 9 is at the bottom of the reading list? The witchcraft and demonology story in TPB 9 seems to tie in pretty well with stories in Abe Omnibus 2. Same with Icthyco Sapien (shows a scene with Caul that shows up directly in Secret Fire TPB)

      • Mark Tweedale

        Icthyo Sapien is a tricky one to place. The framing sequence of the story is set some time after A Darkness so Great and before The Secret Flame, but I can’t really place a trade full of flashbacks in the middle of the Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible – Volume 2 omnibus.

        Ultimately, it’s placed where it is because of the overall structure of this reading order. It’s basically divided into blocks of modern stories and flashback stories. Hellboy – Volume 1 to Hellboy – Volume 5 is the first block of modern stories, then we go into a flashback block from Hellboy: Weird Tales to B.P.R.D.: Being Human. B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs – Volume 4 to B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth – Volume 5 is the second modern block, then Witchfinder: City of the Dead kicks off the second flashback block.

        The placement of that volume was the thing Scott Allie and I discussed the most, actually. Eventually we decided that for the 2017 order it made the most sense here, but at a later date, when certain other unannounced books come out, it will move. We already know where it’ll be in 2019’s order.

    • Gabriel B Muniz

      thank you Mark!
      there’s a reason to Lobster Vol1 be the last one, besides the introduction of the armor? it is set after the other volumes?
      thanks again!

      • Mark Tweedale

        It takes place in 1937. All the Lobster Johnson stories have been arranged into chronological order.


      issue 2 of the bprd: the devil you know just made a bit of a glancing vampire hunter reference. they never say his name though, I still consider him apart of the same universe even if you do not read Baltimore.

      • Mark Tweedale

        Baltimore and Joe Golem are a different universe. I think you’ll find they are referring to someone else…

    • TylerTeaTime

      Great list – 1 quick question:

      Where does “Hellboy: House of the Living Dead” fall into all of this?

      Thank you for your time.

      • Mark Tweedale

        It’s collected in “Hellboy in Mexico.”

    • David Tucker

      I’ve read the BPRD books years ago and I’m about to go through a tremendous Mignolaverse re read. Can you remind me why BPRD vol 3 and 4 have such a long gap between them where you’ve added other titles? Just deciding whether or not to split up the series or read BPRD to the end and then dive into all the others. Thanks for all the homework!

      • Mark Tweedale

        That gulf does bother me, but Scott and I could never come up with a solution that didn’t make things worse. So let’s tackle it book by book, working backwards.

        • “B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs – Volume 4” — The second story in this volume, “The Black Goddess,” references a lot of outside material. We dig into Memnan Saa’s past, first touched on in “Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels” and continued in “Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus,” so we wanted those stories to be read before the reader got to this volume. Also, over the course of “The Black Goddess” and “King of Fear,” we get the end of the Lobster’s story, but at a point when we haven’t really heard what his story is yet.

        • Considering we already have to introduce “The Iron Prometheus” before PoF4, and the Lobster never really plays into the ongoing story again, we decided that the entire LoJo series should sit in between PoF3 and PoF4. “B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground” reintroduces the character and launches us into the Lobster Johnson series, and when we return, we see his ruined lair, his final confrontation with Memnan Saa, and his final resting place in “King of Fear.”

        • We have three “Witchfinder” volumes in the gap because “In the Service of Angels” has to be in there, and the other two will likely fill out the rest of the first “Witchfinder” omnibus someday. We tend to think in omnis while working on this list, so you see a lot of sets of three trades.

        • “Hellboy: Darkness Calls” — The first epilogue takes place after “B.P.R.D.: Garden of Souls,” but before “B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground.” We wanted to touch base with Hellboy and remind readers where he is in time and place in relation to the “B.P.R.D.” stuff. This story also introduced Koshchei and Henry Hood.

        • Henry Hood’s short story pops up in “Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels,” so “Darkness Calls” should go first to give that story some weight, otherwise it just seems a bit random.

        So, at this point we had “Hellboy,” “Witchinder,” and “Lobster Johnson” all stuck in this gap. But there are other problems coming up. The story “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia” relies on references to both “Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain” (in Abe2) and “B.P.R.D.: 1946” and “1947.” We could have put these in a gap following PoF4, but we wanted to do longer runs of modern day material without throwing in flashback material at random.

        At this point we starting thinking of the list in blocks. We have modern blocks of stories and flashback blocks of stories. The gap between PoF3 and PoF4 became the first flashback block. So “1946–1948” moved into this block along with “Abe Sapien – Volumes 1–2”

        • “Hellboy: The Midnight Circus” and “Hellboy in Mexico” need to be read before “Hellboy in Hell,” so they moved into the flashback block too. “Frankenstein Underground” spins out of “Hellboy in Mexico,” so we moved that story so they sit together.

        • “Sledgehammer 44” spins out of “Lobster Johnson” and functions as a kind of prologue to “1946–1948,” so it moved. Also, we knew it needed to be read before “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Wings” and “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.”

        • “B.P.R.D.: Being Human” doesn’t really have a definitive home, but we wanted “Casualties” read before “Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible.” It’s there because we couldn’t come up with something better. This will be moving in next 2018’s reading order to better accommodate the new Hellboy omnibus editions.

        • And finally, “B.P.R.D.: Vampire” sits between “B.P.R.D. 1946–1948” and “Hellboy: The Midnight Circus” because it takes place chronologically there. This story will almost certainly move in later reading orders though, but where will depend entirely on the next “Vampire” story.

        • David Tucker

          Wow. You just convinced me. The thought put into your reading order is second-to-none. Well done and thank you!

          • Mark Tweedale

            There’s always compromises in these reading orders, but I think if I posted the reading tree I use to put this together, people’s brains would explode.

            • hylonomus

              By all means, please do post the reading tree. I think many people would love to see it, me among others.

            • Mark Tweedale

              Maybe some day, but for now at least I’ve been specifically asked not to share it.

    • Jeremy Joanes

      So I’m going through the mignolaverse and i just got to the start of the bprd series and I’m on War on Frogs. Question: why is the war on frogs vol 12? because by the volumes its The Dead then the Black Flame.

      • Mark Tweedale

        The order was reshuffled for the omnibuses to be in chronological order. Trade 12 collects a bunch of flashback short stories before, during, and after “The Black Flame,” so those two stories got spliced together and retitiled as follows:

        • The Black Flame #1 ===> War on Frogs – Chapter 1
        • War on Frogs #1 =====> War on Frogs – Chapter 2
        • Revival ============> War on Frogs – Chapter 3
        • War on Frogs #2 =====> War on Frogs – Chapter 4
        • War on Frogs #4 =====> War on Frogs – Chapter 5
        • The Black Flame #2 ===> The Black Flame – Chapter 1
        • The Black Flame #3 ===> The Black Flame – Chapter 2
        • The Black Flame #4 ===> The Black Flame – Chapter 3
        • The Black Flame #5 ===> The Black Flame – Chapter 4
        • The Black Flame #6 ===> The Black Flame – Chapter 5
        • War on Frogs #3 =====> The Black Flame – Epilogue

    • Darkpoet1792

      So are the Winter Specials and Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1955 (Secret Nature) not canon? Or is 1955 included in one of the Omnibus?

      • Mark Tweedale

        The reading order only takes into books (not issues) that’ll be released up to December 2017.

        1955 is certainly canon, and the trade collection will be out next year, so expect to see it on 2018’s reading order. The Winter Specials are certainly canon, but I don’t know where all those stories will be collected yet. Of the six short stories, two have already been collected (one in “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953” and the other in “The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed”), but the other four remain a question for now. The will get collected eventually though.

        • Darkpoet1792

          Okay, thanks for clearing that up. 🙂

    • Ben G

      Oh hi Mark! I’m a long time Mignola fan but now that I have the income to collect physical comics I’ve decided to buckle up and search for an order through the universe in the order that provides the best emotional impact. Most of the ones that I’ve found so far have you start BPRD: Plague of Frogs between Hellboy Library Editions vol 3 and 4. What was you reasoning for placing it after?

      Thanks for the great work!

      • Mark Tweedale

        Honestly, Hellboy LE 4 is a tricky one to place, and I’m never happy with where I put it. See the trades it collects have a short story called “The Mole” in it, though it’s not collected in the LE (it got bumped to LE 5). Problem is I have to make the list work for trade readers too. Really, it can be read any time between LE3 and LE5, and on this occasion, that’s where I decided it was the least distracting from the main thread.

        I can’t remember now, but I think I moved it again in the early draft of the 2018 reading order when I was trying to figure out how to incorporate the upcoming Hellboy omnis.

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