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Hellboy Universe Reading Order (Hellboy, BPRD, Abe Sapien), from the mind of Mike Mignola

The Hellboy Universe is vast and full of monsters. It’s also composed of multiple series and miniseries, stories published in a non-chronological order. The following article is not the ultimate reading order, it’s a reading guide, an attempt to offer a good view of one of the best comic book universes.

Created by writer-artist Mike Mignola (you can read about the origin of the creation of the character here), Hellboy is a half-Demon who was summoned from Hell to Earth as a baby by the “Mad Monk” Grigori Rasputin for the Nazis. Adopted by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, the man behind the United States Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (also called the B.P.R.D.), Hellboy grew up with humans and learned to hunt monsters. Adult, he is easily identifiable. After all, he is red-skinned, huge with a tail, horns, and cloven hooves for feet, and his right is hand made of stone.

Working with the B.P.R.D., he hunts Nazis, witches, and other types of Lovecraftian monsters, teaming up with the amphibian humanoid Abe Sapien, and pyrokinetic Liz Sherman. As the years pass, Hellboy must confront who he really is and fulfill his destiny as the B.P.R.D. becomes the first line of defense against cosmic menaces.

Hellboy Universe Reading Order:

Chronological or non-chronological? In the beginning, the Hellboy series was a collection of short stories. They were not published in a chronological fashion. You can read them in chronological order if you want (in that case, the best way is to pick up the omnibus editions), but if it’s your first reading, you better start without the added complication of jumping around. Follow the original publication order. Once familiar with the Hellboy Universe, you can try to read everything in order to see if it’s a different experience. Your choice.

In the following reading order, we’ll start with Hellboy short stories. For all of the prequel books published later, we’ll come back to them in the second part of the guide.

Because the main story is finished at that point, I decided to move some Hellboy books out of the way and I put them in the section about the prequel books (like the Hellboy & the BPRD series). The fact is that you can read them when you want and, re-reading the stories, I thought they were a distraction, taking me out of the most important developments at that moment. I realized I’ll have more pleasure revisiting them in the context of the prequels.

What are the main series? Even if Hellboy is the most famous series of this big universe created by Mike Mignola, there’s a lot more. The most notable ones are Hellboy, Hellboy in Hell, B.P.R.D., and Abe Sapien; Add to that the spin-offs Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder, Lobster Johnson, and a lot of miniseries.

What are the best editions? The Trade Paperbacks don’t collect the stories in chronological order, unlike the omnibuses. The best? You decide. In my collection, I have a lot of Hellboy TPBs and mostly omnibuses for the B.P.R.D. stuff. I kind of jump around. It’s not easy, I’ll admit. For the reading order, I prioritize TPBs but I added notes about the omnibuses too. I hope this will help you.

P.S.: The previous version of this reading order was published on

I. Welcome to the Hellboy Universe

The first books introduced most of the characters, concepts, and themes that defined the Hellboy Universe.

  • Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
    Collects Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1-4. The Introduction of Hellboy, Abe Sapiens, Liz Sherman and the B.P.R.D.
  • Hellboy: Wake the Devil
    Collects Hellboy: Wake the Devil #1-5.
  • Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others
    Collects short stories like “The Baba Yaga,” “Wolves of Saint August,” “The Corpse and the Iron Shoes,” “A Christmas Underground,” “The Chained Coffin,” and “Almost Colossus.”
  • Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom
    Collects short stories like “The Right Hand of Doom,” “Pancakes,” “The Vårcolac,”  “King Vold,” and “Box Full of Evil.”

Abe Sapien is not as well known as Hellboy, but he’s an incredible character and a major player in the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. Universe. His solo adventures were at first old ones about his early solo missions. You can read them at any moment, but I decided to put them here because it’s a good way to understand Abe before his backstory becomes really important in the B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs storyline.

Also, B.P.R.D.: Being Human collects past stories, but also more recent ones that give a better understanding of the connection between Roger The Homunculus and Hellboy.

II. The Plague of Frogs

At that point, Hellboy has left the BPRD and his solo adventures are barely connected to the main epic story told in the B.P.R.D. series. The two series will affect one another in subtle ways before everything goes awry for everybody. If you only want to read Hellboy, you can without any difficulties.

This is where the first Hellboy series ended. This is not the end for the character of Hellboy. In fact, the story continues in Hellboy in Hell. Also, you can go there are a lot more stories, but they take place in the past. Go to the “prequel” section for more information.

III. B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth

This is when Abe Sapiens left the B.P.R.D. to lead his own solo series. What happened in his series doesn’t affect B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth and vice versa. All you need to know is that the Abe Sapien series must be read before B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: End of Days. I chose to alternate between the titles because it’s more fluid like that.

This is a good point to reconnect with Hellboy with the Hellboy in Hell series that picks up where the story left us after The Storm and the Fury. There’s no apparent link with B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth, but some events taking place in Hell have consequences in the world of the living.

IV. B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know

This is the end of the main story. The last three books collect The Devil You Know storyline that leads Hellboy & the B.P.R.D. to its natural conclusion.

V. The New World

Maybe the story of Hellboy and his friends from the B.P.R.D. has ended, but new books exploring the new status quo are now published.

  • The Sword of Hyperborea
    Collects The Sword of Hyperborea #1-4. The story explores the past but has to be read here to avoid spoilers about the end of the main series.
  • Frankenstein: New World
    Collects Frankenstein: New World #1-4. Frankenstein Undone was canceled, but the character is finally back to explore the New World.

Hellboy Reading Order Icon

The Hellboy Univers Omnibus Editions:

What follows is a listing of the Omnibus Hardcover collection. Dark Horse is now republishing those books as paperbacks.

  • Hellboy And The B.P.R.D.: 1952-1954
    Collects B.P.R.D.: 1952, 1953, and 1954.
  • Hellboy And The B.P.R.D.: 1955-1957 NEW
    Collects B.P.R.D.: 1955, 1956, and 1957.
  • Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories Volume 1
    Collects The Chained Coffin, The Right Hand of Doom, The Bride of Hell, The Crooked Man, The Troll Witch, and The Midnight Circus.
  • Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories Volume 2
    Collects The Troll Witch, The Chained Coffin, The Bride of Hell, The Right Hand of Doom, and The Crooked Man, including “Heads,” “Buster Oakley Gets His Wish,” and “A Christmas Underground.
  • Monster-Sized Hellboy
    Collects all the stories and graphic novels contained in Hellboy Omnibus Volumes 1-4: 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. 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. Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt, and The Storm and the Fury, and the short story “The Mole.” Hellboy in Hell Volumes 1-2, “The Magician and the Snake”, and “The Exorcist of Vorsk.”

    • “Monster-Sized Hellboy” is a new massive 1500 pages book that collects the four volumes of the “Hellboy Omnibus” collection in one tome.

Previously in the Hellboy universe

You can’t limit the Hellboy Universe to the main storylines. From the start, Mike Mignola wrote stories taking place before. And as the adventure went along, interesting new characters expanded the mythology in new and interesting directions. So, there are still a lot of books to read.

What’s coming next is a chronological sorting of all those books with indications, when it’s necessary, about the best time to read them.

Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder

This Hellboy spin-off primarily features stories about Sir Edward Grey, an agent of Queen Victoria and paranormal investigator, although on one occasion it included The Burial of Katharine Baker, which is about another witchfinder, Henry Hood. The Mysteries of Unland was one of the few Hellboy Universe stories in which Mike Mignola was not involved in the writing. In August 2016, Chris Roberson began his run on the series in a more long-term capacity.

  • Panya: The Mummy’s Curse
    Collects Panya: The Mummy’s Curse #1-4. The story set in 1339 B.C. is about the origin of Panya, how she became the mommy later found by the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra.
  • Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea
    Collects Miss Truesdale and the Fall of Hyperborea #1-4. The framing story is set in 1883, but a good part of the book is about the Hyperborea era.
  • Hellboy: The Silver Lantern Club
    Collects Hellboy: The Silver Lantern Club #1-5. The framing story is set in 1953, but the tales take place at the end of the 19th century with the Silver Lantern Club members including Sir Edward Grey, Sarah Jewell, Lady Bai, and Major Singh.
  • British Paranormal Society: Time Out of Mind
    Collects The British Paranormal Society: Time Out of Mind #1-4. A spin-off following Simon Bruttenholm and Honora Grant of the British Paranormal Society in the 1910s.
  • Rise of the Black Flame
    Collects Rise of the Black Flame #1-5. This backstory is about the Black Flame with characters from the Witchfinder series.
  • The House of Lost Horizons: A Sarah Jewell Mystery
    Collects House of Lost Horizons #1-5.
  • Crimson Lotus
    Collects Crimson Lotus #1-5. The Crimson Lotus is Lobster Johnson’s biggest foe.

Lobster Johnson

This Hellboy spin-off primarily features stories about Lobster Johnson, a vigilante from 1932 to 1939 who came back to help Hellboy and Roger to fight Nazis.

The Burning Hand, Satan Smells a Rat, and Get the Lobster, and the short story “Lobster Johnson: The Empty Chair” are collected in the first Lobster Johnson Omnibus.

The Iron Prometheus, The Pirate’s Ghost and Metal Monsters of Midtown, A Chain Forged in Life, and the short story “The Killer in My Skull” are collected in the second Lobster Johnson Omnibus.

  • Rasputin: The Voice of the Dragon
    Collects Rasputin: The Voice of the Dragon #1-5. With World War II raging, Trevor Bruttenholm is thrown into a treacherous journey that leads him face-to-face with Rasputin. It’s a prequel that tells the story of how Bruttenholm ended up on the trail of Rasputin and how he found Hellboy. Must read. Also collected in Hellboy Universe: The Secret Histories.

  • Sledgehammer 44
    Collects Sledgehammer 44 #1-2 and Lightning War #1-3. Takes place 10 years after Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus. It’s recommended to read it before B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth: Metamorphosis. Also collected in Hellboy Universe: The Secret Histories.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.

As you may have guessed, Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. is about Hellboy and his adventures with the B.P.R.D. They take place in the ’50s as Hellboy is still learning how to fight the monsters.

Other Hellboy Solo Adventures

Those are part of the original Hellboy series. I took them out of the main reading order because they slow things down. They are great but don’t add much to the main storylines.

  • Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others
    Collects short stories like “The Penanggalan,” “The Hydra and The Lion,” “The Troll-Witch,” “The Vampire of Prague,” and the 2-issue miniseries “Makoma”.
  • Hellboy: The Crooked Man and Others
    Collects “The Crooked Man” miniseries, one-shots like “They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships”, “In the Chapel of Moloch,” and “The Mole.”

  • Hellboy: The Bride of Hell and Others
    Collects Hellboy in Mexico, Hellboy: Double Feature of Evil, Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead #1-2, Hellboy: The Bride of Hell, “Hellboy: The Whittier Legacy,” and Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish || The “Hellboy in Mexico” story is also collected in… Hellboy in Mexico.
  • Hellboy: Weird Tales
    Presented as ‘old-fashioned pulp fun’, it’s a collection of short stories by multiple authors, all over the place chronologically speaking.
  • Hellboy: The Bones of Giants
    Collects Hellboy: The Bones of Giants issues #1-4. Based on the illustrated novel by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. Set in 1988, between “The Transformation of J.H. O’Donnell” and “A Christmas Underground“.

  • Koshchei the Deathless
    Collects Koshchei the Deathless #1-6. In the main continuity, it would take place before Hellboy in Hell: The Death Card.

Out of Continuity

If you want to read more Hellboy adventures, you can! There are some novels from various authors. It’s solo stories only.

  • Hellboy: The Lost Army – A novel by Christopher Golden illustrated by Mike Mignola. The story takes place in 1986 and is about Hellboy searching for a British archeological team and the Lost Army they were after at the edge of the Great Sand Sea.
  • Hellboy: The Fire Wolves – A novel by Tim Lebbon. Hellboy is called to Amalfi, Italy, by Franca, a young member of the Esposito family as she fears that a dark curse on her family is about to claim her cousin as its next victim. Hellboy encounters a flaming demon–a fire wolf.
  • Hellboy: The Ice Wolves – A novel by Mark Chadbourn. Hellboy races against time to prevent a devastating wave of primal savagery. And so he is drawn to Boston’s Beacon Hill and the Grant Mansion, believed to be the most haunted house in New England, where the truth may lie buried.
  • Hellboy: All-Seeing Eye – A novel by Mark Morris. Called in to investigate killings in London, B.P.R.D. agents Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman discover a wellspring of black magic under the streets and a sack of heads. Hellboy descends into the dark underworld of London, encountering demons who prophesy the opening of an Eye to the otherworld.
  • Hellboy: Odd Jobs – An anthology that collects short stories from famous authors like Brian Hodge, Poppy Z. Brite, Nancy A. Collins, Greg Rucka, Chet Williamson.
  • Hellboy: Odder Jobs – An anthology that collects short stories from famous authors like Frank Darabont, Guillermo del Toro, Charles de Lint, Graham Joyce, Sharyn McCrumb.
  • Hellboy: Oddest Jobs – An anthology that collects short stories from famous authors like Joe R. Lansdale, China Miéville, Barbara Hambly, Ken Bruen and Tad Williams.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army – a novelization of the second movie written by Robert Greenberger.
  • Hellboy: Emerald Hell – A novel by Tom Piccirilli. Hellboy comes to the crossroads in Enigma, Georgia, a small town plagued by strange occurrences. Sent to keep an eye on Sarah Nail, a young girl hiding from the curse of her family, he becomes entangled in the blood debt of evil mystical preacher, Brother Jester.
  • Lobster Johnson: The Satan Factory – A Novel by Thomas E. Sniegoski taking place during the years before World War II. The Lobster has to stop a physician who stumbles across the power to transform men into monsters.

It’s a big one! Maybe I made a mistake. Let me know in the comment section what you would recommend. There are a lot of possible variations with this reading order, all inputs can be valuable!

Last Updated on July 8, 2024.