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Book Buzz: Puttin’ the Folk Back in Hellboy

Longtime Star Trek and comic aficionado Robert Greenberger tackles The Golden Army

By Pat Ferrara     June 17, 2008

HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY by Robert Greenberger(2008).
© Dark Horse

Guillermo del Toro’s first Hellboy film wasn’t exactly the strongest of foundations for a blockbuster comic book franchise. Its reviews were generally positive, yet still fairly mixed. Its domestic gross of $59 million, against a budget of $66, wasn’t a fiscal disaster with international pull factored in, but it still didn’t capture the out-of-the-gates, nine figure appeal of other recently jumpstarted comic features. In a box office run dominated by Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, the story of Mike Mignola’s red-skinned paranormal investigator cut out a modest living. Sequels, however, were never assured…that is until a Mexican director made a beautiful film about folklore, fairytales, and the tumultuous aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.

Aside from Mignola himself filmmaker Guillermo del Toro really has been Hellboy’s greatest champion. Opting to do a Hellboy sequel over the much buzzed HALO adaptation (even before that project hit the skids), del Toro has been attached to the sprawling tale of Anung un Rama ever since penning the preface for the comic Hellboy: Conqueror Worm. When Hellboy 2 was left high and dry by the now dismantled Revolution Studios del Toro used his newly bolstered clout from the success of Pan’s Labyrinth to fast-track the production for a Summer 08 release under Universal Pictures.

This week Robert Greenberger, who just released the exhaustive Essential Batman Encyclopedia, is debuting the novelization of del Toro’s screenplay for Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. Nicely dove-tailing with del Toro’s proven cinematic abilities, Mignola has said that this second theatrical installment of Hellboy will focus more on the folklore and fairytale elements of his universe rather than the pulp rudiments that were so heavily showcased in the first film. Shot in Budapest and London, The Golden Army will highlight European folktales to tell the story of a mythical rebellion against humanity. In an IGN interview with Hellboy’s creator, Mignola likens the driving force of the sequel’s plot to the disenfranchisement of North America’s native Indians:

“It's not Nazis, machines and mad scientists but the old gods and characters who have been kind of shoved out of our world. I kind of equate it to the whole American Indian situation. The Indians were shoved onto reservations. You had your old, wise Indians who said, "You know, this is the way it is. We can't fight anymore. We just have to accept our fate." You then have your Geronimo character saying, "Or we could just kill the White Man." That's kind of the situation we have in the film. We have our elf characters resigning to the way things are and then there's one saying, "Or we could take the world back." The main difference is - what if the Indians had a nuclear warhead? The elves have their equivalent of the weapon that is too terrible to use. What if this guy decided to use it?”

With Guillermo behind the camera of an action-packed, folk-inspired comic book adventure there’s little doubt that Hellboy 2: The Golden Army won’t be a hell of a fun ride. But can the franchise find its box office legs, this second time around, a mere week before the release of The Dark Knight?

New in Hardcover:

Dreamer, Paul L. Bates (Five Star)

The dystopian sequel to Bates’ 2005 sci-fi thriller Imprint.

The Empyrean Age: Eve, Tony Gonzales (Gollancz)

These are times that will test the bounds of the human spirit. A clone with no name or past awakens to a cruel existence, hunted mercilessly for crimes he may never know; yet he stands close to the pinnacle of power in New Eden. A disgraced ambassador is confronted by a mysterious woman who knows everything about him, and of the sinister plot against his government; his actions will one day unleash the vengeful wrath of an entire civilization. And among the downtrodden masses of a corporation-owned world, a man named Tibus Heth is about to launch a revolution that will change the course of history The confluence of these dark events will lead humanity towards a tragic destiny. The transcendence of man to the dream of immortality has bred a quest for power like none before it; empires spanning across thousands of stars will clash in the depths of space and on the worlds within. Those who stand before the tides of war, willingly or not, must face the fundamental choices that have been with man for tens of thousands of years, unchanged since the memory of Earth was lost. This is Eve, The Empyrean Age. A test of our convictions and the will to survive.

The Veil of Gold, Kim Wilkins (Tor)

When an ancient gold bear is found walled up in a dilapidated St. Petersburg bathhouse, researcher Daniel St. Clair and his frosty colleague Em Hayward set out for the university in Arkhangelsk to verify its age. Along the way they are mysteriously set adrift. Maps are suddenly useless. Lost and exhausted they turn north, sinking even deeper into the secrets and terrors of the Russian landscape. Daniel’s lost love, the wild and beautiful Rosa Kovalenka, fears the worst when Daniel goes missing and resolves to find him. To do so will mean confronting her past and secrets that she has fought to suppress. The only way to save him is to go forward, where she encounters the haunted Chenchikov clan, a family with their own shadowy tangle of grief, desire, and treachery. In the unknowable, impenetrable Russian forest, Rosa meets an enigmatic wanderer who is full of tales and riddles of times past. Who might hold the key to Rosa and Daniel’s future--or the destruction of their world.


Moonworlds Saga: The Time Engine, Sean Mcmullen (Tor)

Swords, sorcery, and time travel are a strange and dangerous mix. Wayfarer Inspector Danolarian saw his world’s future and did not approve. The inspector knew about time travel because he had once met his future self. What he did not know was that he would be abducted into the future, and wind up on the run with a constable who had shape-shifted into a cat. Danolarian would also find himself marooned in the ancient past, where he would have to recover his time engine from five thousand naked, psychopathic horsemen. A faulty repair plunges him another three million years back in time, to a world of strange, beautiful people living idyllic lives in splendid castles. But things are not always as they seem. After being attacked, he learns from his unlikely rescuer that time travel is not entirely real. A furious Danolarian returns to his own time, planning revenge against the time engine’s true builders.

New in Paperback:

Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Robert Greenberger (Dark Horse)

After an ancient truce existing between humankind and the invisible realm of the fantastic is broken, hell on Earth is ready to erupt. A ruthless leader who treads the world above and the one below defies his bloodline and awakens an unstoppable army of creatures. Now, it's up to the planet's toughest, roughest superhero to battle the merciless dictator and his marauders. He may be red. He may be horned. He may be misunderstood. But when you need the job done right, it's time to call Hellboy. Along with his expanding team in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense - pyrotechnic girlfriend Liz Sherman, aquatic empathy Abe Sapien, and protoplasmic mystic Johann - the BPRD will travel between the surface strata and the unseen magical one, where creatures of fantasy become corporeal. And Hellboy, a creature of two worlds who's accepted by neither, must choose between the life he knows and an unknown destiny that beckons him.


Star Trek Deep Space Nine: These Haunted Seas, David George III & Heather Jarman (Star Trek Books)

It is a time of renewed hope. As the U.S.S. Defiant sails through the wormhole and charts a new course of discovery into the unknown ocean of the Gamma Quadrant, powerful individuals from distant worlds gather at station Deep Space 9™ to usher in a bright new era; with the Dominion War now only a memory, Bajor is poised at last to enter the Federation. For Colonel Kira Nerys, Commander Elias Vaughn, and all those who follow them, these are the voyages they were born to undertake. But where they seek to go is defined by the journeys they have made before, and ghosts populate these uncharted waters -- the spectres of lost leaders, fallen friends, forsaken lovers, vanquished enemies, and earlier selves. Some of these shades drive the travelers on, others are drawn inexorably into their wake; but all make their presence felt, and in feeling, the men and women of DS9 and the Defiant must somehow navigate the perilous rapids of their pasts in order to find the future. Originally published as Twilight and This Gray Spirit--the first two novels in the critically acclaimed Mission: Gamma series--These Haunted Seas is the next chapter of the epic saga begun in Twist of Faith, continuing the chronicles of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine® beyond the small screen, propelling its heroes to realms they could never have imagined, and truths they cannot escape.


Sideways in Crime, Ed. by Lou Anders (Solaris)

An anthology on the theme of Alternative History and Crime, featuring stories from the genre's foremost writers. Contributors include: Kage Baker, Stephen Baxter, Tobias Buckell, Pat Cadigan, Paul Di Filippo, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Theodore Judson, Jack McDevitt, John Meaney, Paul Park, Mike Resnick & Eric Flint, Mary Rosenblum, Chris Roberson, Justina Robson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and SM Stirling.


Star Wars Omnibus: Droids, Various (Dark Horse)

Before the fateful day Luke Skywalker met Artoo and Threepio for the first time, those two troublesome droids had some amazing adventures all their own! Entangled with pirates, bounty hunters, rock monsters, and the notorious space criminal Olag Greck, they do their best to stick together in a dangerous galaxy where anything can happen.


Predator Omnibus Vol. 3, Various (Dark Horse)

Death often hides in the dark, isolated corners of the earth - in thick woods, steaming swamps, or angry seas. These natural dangers of animal, weather, and terrain often give rise to legends and folk tales of demons, serpents, and ghosts to put an understandable face to the unknown. And while many myths have a basis in reality, some are reality, the reality of the presence of Predators: alien hunters as savage as they are intelligent, as cunning as they are merciless. And when rational men stand face to face with a sea serpent, a Gollywomp, or the New Jersey Devil bent on taking trophies, they have but two choices - fight the myth or become history!

Necrophenia, Robert Rankin (Gollancz)

On the very last day ever, everything will happen. The symptoms have been studied, the diagnosis is confirmed, the prognosis is bleak. The universe will cease to exist in just twelve hours - just twelve hours, during which time all of the loose ends must be tied up, all of the Big Questions answered and all of the Ultimate Truths revealed. It promises to be a somewhat hectic twelve hours. During which...a Brentford shopkeeper will complete a sitting room for God. A Chiswick woman will uncover the Metaphenomena of the Multiverse. An aging Supervillain will put the finishing touches to his plans for trans-dimensional domination. Serious trouble will break out at the New Messiah's Convention in Acton. And a Far-Fetched Fiction author will receive Divine Enlightenment. The world's leading exponent of Far-Fetched Fiction pulls out all the literary stops to produce a truly epic work of imagination: twelve interlocking tales, one for each hour left on the clock. Will the universe end with a bang or a whimper - or something else entirely, possibly involving a time-traveling Elvis Presley with a sprout in his head?


The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld, Terry Pratchett (Corgi Books)

The perfect book for die-hard Pratchett fans and newcomers alike, a collection of the wittiest, pithiest and wisest quotations from the Discworld universe, organized into categories including the principal Discworld characters (Granny Weatherwax, Lord Vetinari), places (Unseen University, Ankh-Morpork, the City Watch) or even the occasional concept (magic). Compiled by Stephen Briggs.

New in Audiobook:

Spell of the Highlander, Karen Marie Moning (Brilliance Audio Unabridged)

Jessi St. James has got to get a life. Too many hours studying ancient artifacts has given the hardworking archaeology student a bad case of sex on the brain. So she figures she must be dreaming when she spies a gorgeous half-naked man staring out at her from inside the glass of an ancient mirror. But when a split-second decision saves her from a terrifying attempt on her life, Jessi suddenly finds herself confronting six and a half feet of smoldering, insatiable alpha male. Heir to the arcane magic of his Druid ancestors, Cian MacKeltar was trapped inside the Dark Glass eleven centuries ago. And when the Dark Glass is stolen, an ancient enemy will stop at nothing to reclaim it. For Jessi, the sex god in the mirror is not only tantalizingly real, he’s offering his protection, from exactly what, Jessi doesn’t know. And all he wants in exchange is the exquisite pleasure of sharing her bed. Read by Phil Gigante.

Check back next Monday for all the latest info on current sci-fi, fantasy, and horror book releases. Questions or comments? Hit me up at


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sportwarrior 6/17/2008 2:16:09 AM
I sure hope Hellboy finds some legs and makes some money this time. I didn't realize the domestic pull was only $59m the first time around. The trailers look fantastic, though, and after Labyrinth I'm sure there will be plenty of people curious enough to check out del Toro's next offering.
kaybar 6/17/2008 4:38:52 AM
A lot of del Toro's Labyrinth sensibilities seem to have pervaded the style and art design of this second Hellboy installment. I thoroughly enjoyed the first film, but I never thought it would get a theatrical sequel so soon, or under the same creative team. I hope the more mythical, horror storyline resonates with the Hellboy lore enough to gather a wide audience. The only thing for certain though is that July is gonna be one kickass month for movies.
almostunbiased 6/17/2008 9:17:55 AM
I went to the first one on a whim and was so glad I did. It just sounded stupid, but it really is a great world, and very funny. I think a lot of people rented it, so maybe the second will do much better.
fft5305 6/17/2008 10:00:35 AM
I thoroughly enjoyed the first one. Surprisingly, so did my wife. I think she may actually be looking forward to the sequel. When we saw the preview before the Hulk, I heard a few chuckles coming from her direction, especially when HB said, "Awww crap." I'm hoping the audience from the first, some new fans of GdT's Pan's Labyrinth work, and some new superhero genre fans combine to make some good bank before Dark Knight stomps on it.
hanso 6/17/2008 10:06:20 AM
The Dark Knight already stomped on Hellboy 2 and every film ever created. Book it son!!
almostunbiased 6/17/2008 2:17:58 PM
hanso, I bet you Dk is not the top grosser of the year. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to it, but I bet it's not the top movie. I guess it will have to be a gentlemen's bet since we have no way of actually betting. P.S. I bet it's number 3.
sportwarrior 6/17/2008 3:28:10 PM
I bet it's number 2, beat out only by the uproarious comedy "Space Chimps". Anything involving Space is usually a money maker. Anything involving Chimps is usually hilarious. Thus, anything involving Space Chimps will be a hilarious money maker. Right?
Tonebone 6/17/2008 4:58:05 PM
I by accident began watching the first Hellboy on cable (one of the movie channels or something) and loved it. It was just a fun, well done movie. And I know I am gonna catch this one in theatres and will probably check out some of the prints just as well.
fft5305 6/18/2008 7:08:59 AM
DK will be 2nd highest. Iron Man will top it. The only reason I say that is because the #s for Batman Begins were so low, at least compared to what I thought they should have been given the buzz and the quality of the movie. Don't get me wrong, $205M is a lot, but there was a ton of talk about how this revived the franchise and it was what a comic book movie should be. I figured $250-300M. IM should be crossing $300M as I type this. I think DK will be a close 2nd, son. Sorry hanso.
mbeckham1 6/18/2008 1:10:22 PM
I think The Dark Knight will do much better than Batman Begins because, when Begins came out Batman stock was low in the movie fan community and no one(or not enough people) knew who Chris Nolan and Christian Bale were, or what to make of this new movie, only that we'd been burned before.<BR itxtvisited="1" /><BR itxtvisited="1" />Now. We all know Batman Begins was awesome. Bale and Nolan are household names and the Batman's stock has never been higher. The Dark Knight will rule the Summer.<BR itxtvisited="1" /><BR itxtvisited="1" />Hellboy II though I'm hoping will do well though. Possibly top five. After Pan's Labrynth I think people will follow that man through fire, also after Hulk's been out and IronMan and Indiana Jones have left the screens people will want an epic comicbook action before Batman hits the screens. It should do quite well.
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