Back in 2014, I created a Hellboy Universe reading for Multiversity Comics. However, with all the new books Dark Horse Comics and Mike Mignola keep putting out, I’ve had to update every year since. So here’s 2022’s reading order, including all the collections that’ll be coming out in 2022, plus a few others coming in early 2023.
This is not an official reading order, mainly because there is no official reading order. Most of the series in the Hellboy Universe can stand alone. “Hellboy,” “B.P.R.D.,” “Witchfinder,” and “Lobster Johnson” are are great starting points for new readers—just follow the numbers on the book spines. If you’re only interested in “Lobster Johnson,” go for it—you don’t need to read “Hellboy” first or any of the other titles. Discovery is part of the reading experience, so don’t be afraid to explore.
If you do start exploring, but don’t want go out there completely blind, this simplified reading order covers the core titles and it will help you get all the big stuff in the right order:
Otherwise, if you’re up for a deep dive into EVERYTHING, then here’s our usual reading order. I’ve also included links to some other reading orders at the end as well as other useful resources. The Mignolaversity reading order prioritizes the library editions and omnibus editions. If that’s not how you want to experience the series, maybe one of the other orders linked below might better suit your needs.
While I’ve tried to keep the Mignolaversity reading order simple, the “Hellboy” series is collected in both library editions and omnibus editions, which collect the stories in radically different orders. To accommodate both, the reading order is split into two columns: stick to the left if you’re reading “Hellboy” in trade paperbacks or the library editions, or stick to the right if you’re reading “Hellboy” in the omnibus editions. If you’d prefer a text-based version, I have one available here.
A final note for new readers: once a trade paperback is collected into an omnibus, there will be no further reprints of that trade. If a trade is collected in an omnibus, that’s going to be the easiest way to track down those stories. If you read digitally, the trade paperbacks and omnibus editions are readily available on ComiXology and Dark Horse Digital. However, the library editions are not available as digital volumes.
Other Reading Orders
If you’re interested in other reading orders, here’s some that other readers have come up with:
Hellboy Book Club
OK, I have to admit, this has become my personal favorite reading order (and not because I played a role in shaping it). The reason I made Mignolaversity’s Hellboy Universe reading order, and why I make sure to update it annually, is because I don’t just love the books, I also love the community around the books. The Hellboy Book Club taps into that community in a fantastic way. There’s nothing like working your way through a book and then digesting it with the book club after. The hosts, John Salinas, Danielle Reneé, and Aubrey Lovelace, all have such different points of view on the material and add so much to the conversation. This is not a “the comic was good” podcast; their approach is detailed and critical. Plus it’s great to just read some comics and talk to your friends.
Aw, crap! A Hellboy Podcast
For many of the same reasons I listed the previous podcast, Mark David Christenson and Kait Thompson’s podcast is a deep dive into this universe that heavily promotes the social aspect of reading the comics. This podcast is taking things slower, generally taking three episodes or so to get through the major arcs, and has special episodes talking to writers or focusing on particular aspects of the art. If you do tune in, I recommend following them on the social media accounts too, as that adds so much to the discussion.
Julix’s reading orders
Julix has put together several different reading orders based on format, timeline, publication, and even has a section for the out-of-continuity material. As much as I love the the omnibuses and library editions, just by sheer volume of material collected they can tend to force some awkward transitions jumping between different titles, and Julix’s order often feels more natural (and it’s actually much closer my own personal reading order than the one I post here on Multiversity Comics). This one gets a big thumbs up from me.
The Comics Bookcase’s reading order
The Comics Bookcase released their own reading order in 2020, building on Sean T. Collin’s reading order from 2015. It is focused only on the trades, some of which can be quite difficult to track down now, however it does include an interesting “best of” section at the end.
Fabien’s Reading Order
Originally published in 2017, Fabien has been diligently updating this order periodically, with the latest being June this year. This reading order is focused on the trade collections, and has some conversation about each section, often labelling titles as optional, and splitting off entire series like “Witchfinder” into their own sections at the end. It also includes discussion about the prose novels too.
Hellboy Media’s reading order (in Russian)
This includes a breakdown of each series and a chronological list of stories. It also includes a chronological list for the Baltimore—Joe Golem Universe. This list is regularly updated.
Comics Guide 101’s Ultimate Hellboy Reading Order
A video reading order. It’s four years out of date now, but the channel revisits Hellboy occasionally, so they may do an updated reading order video eventually. This video goes into detail about where the branching points are for these books, but it’s a bit vague when it comes to the more obscure spinoffs. There’s also a companion video which explains a bit about each series.
The Hellboy Universe Publishing Order
This is a story by story reading order based on the debut of the first issue of an arc or miniseries. There’s not really much more to it than that. I’ve been keeping this order updated since February 2009, back when it was on the Dark Horse forums.
Hellboy Wiki Publishing Order
This is not really a reading order, but rather a table showing when every single issue came out. I’m putting it here for the sake of being thorough.
Fraser Sherman’s Chronological Reading Order
If you’re new to the Hellboy Universe, don’t use this one. Chronological reading order is really only good for rereads, so this for readers that have read it all before and want to experience this universe a new way. Truth be told, it is a very fractured, high effort reading experience. It jumps from book to book and even at times mid-story. It hasn’t been updated since 2018 at this point either.
Brooks Child’s story finder
This isn’t a reading order, but if you’re looking for a specific story, Child’s list will show you where you can find it.
My Personal Reading Order
I’ve had people ask me about this a few times, and I’ve considered sharing it in the past, but always backed out of it, because getting it out of my head and into a readable format is a challenge… because it’s not so much an order as it is a tree. Anyway, I finally did it. You’ll have to use Brooks Child’s story finder or the Hellboy Wiki to find out where each story is collected though, because I am not about to introduce that complication to this already very complicated diagram.
Anyway, I hope this helps you. If you find any other reading orders you like, feel free to link ’em in the comments!