[SPOILER WARNING: There are major spoilers ahead for the August 10th release Hellboy: The Fury #3.]
Death in comics isn't exactly a new thing.
But death that actually sticks? Death that fundamentally changes the world of a major character?
That's a lot more rare.
As Dark Horse warned retailers yesterday, Hellboy, the central character in a whole universe of Dark Horse comics and a series of movies, dies in next week's Hellboy: The Fury #3.
The death is something that's been planned by Hellboy's creator, Mike Mignola, for awhile. And he'll be the one writing the character's end, with assistance on art by Duncan Fegredo.
And this time, dead really means dead."He is dead. It's not a trick," Scott Allie, senior managing editor at Dark Horse, told Newsarama. "There's not going to be a new Hellboy in three months. There's not going to be a triumphant return from the grave anytime soon."
Yet the news has fans of Hellboy scratching their heads. After all, Mignola has promised he would write and draw a Hellboy story next year.
If Hellboy is dying, what does this mean for the future of the Hellboy universe and Mignola's promised story?
Will Dark Horse just continue to do Hellboy stories set in the past, like they've always done?
Or is there a possibility Hellboy will be seen in the future?
Newsarama talked with Allie to try to get the scoop.
Newsarama: Scott, surely you heard the news at some point that Hellboy was going to die. But as the managing editor at Dark Horse, what was your reaction?
Scott Allie: For me, having been a comics reader most of my life, it feels like some stories just go on and on and on and they never change.
So I've known for awhile where this Hellboy story was going, and specifically that he was going to die at this point. I've known for a long time. And honestly, I was happy, because I love when a good story comes to a conclusion.
Too often in our medium, either a story gets cancelled before it gets to an end, or it spirals on forever without getting anyplace. So it's nice to hit an accomplishment like this in the book.Nrama: But Scott, when characters die in the Hellboy universe, it's not like we never see them again. The place is filled with ghosts and ghouls from beyond the grave. So if Mike is going to be writing and drawing Hellboy next year, it could be a story from the past, but it could also be Hellboy in another form, right?
Allie: Yeah, there's a thing that Mike's often said, which is that when characters die in these books, they just get more interesting.
There's truth to that, but those characters have also fundamentally changed.
There's not going to be a new Hellboy in three months. There's not going to be a triumphant return from the grave anytime soon.
And you know, with Roger, we've kept that guy down. He has appeared in one flashback story since we killed him, that just came out this year. There was a one-shot, because we thought Richard Corben drawing Roger was something we couldn't do without. And even Rasputin managed to kick it for a long time.
This isn't the last we've seen of Hellboy, but he is dead. It's not a trick.
Nrama: I hate to use the word "franchise" with Hellboy, because the books have always felt so art- and creator-driven as opposed to being a corporate entity, but Dark Horse has several Hellboy titles being published right now. Isn't there any fear as a publisher that if you kill the main character, you're going to mess up a good thing?Allie: Yeah, for sure. And if we were really governed by things like that, we'd do things a lot differently. We'd have Hellboy in every issue of the BPRD, you know? It would be called "Hellboy's Friends" or something. There are a lot of risks to what we do. We make choices to do a story about an occult investigator who's never even met Hellboy that's set in the 1880's.
So I guess we make a lot of choices that don't have anything to do with the commercial consequences. Not that we're purely aesthetically driven on everything.
But yeah, there is a down side, for sure.
Nrama: In San Diego, you guys indicated there were big things coming in 2012 for the Hellboy universe. Yet it seems strange that it will take place with Hellboy being dead. I know you don't want to spoil what's coming after his death, but is it still true that this death is leading toward something big next year in the Hellboy universe?Allie: It's funny. Our VP of marketing referred to next year as the "Year of Hellboy." And I had to remind him that there's almost no Hellboy coming out. I mean, we've got Hellboy: House of the Living Dead coming out later this year, which is a flashback story.
But to answer the question, "is this part of big things happening for the line?" Yes.
We are definitely headed for bad things for this world. In B.P.R.D., we've seen a lot of stuff change recently. Indonesia was wiped out. There's been a lot of catastrophic stuff in the wake of "King of Fear," which was the end of the "Plague of Frogs" saga in B.P.R.D..
The B.P.R.D. book has been bringing about Armageddon. Hellboy has been heading toward it. And The Fury essentially averts it, but not without a heavy price. There's a lot of fatality and a lot of destruction in this.
So things are just going to keep getting worse.
Doing what we've done with Hellboy in The Fury is just one part of permanently changing and screwing up the world. And it's going to continue to happen at an increasing pace in the near future.