Brad Hawley

BRAD HAWLEY, who's been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Read Brad's series on HOW TO READ COMICS.

Frankenstein Underground by Mike Mignola: For All Frankenstein Fans

Frankenstein Underground by Mike Mignola (author) and Ben Stenbeck (artist)

One of the best books in the wider Hellboy Universe, Frankenstein Underground takes the famous literary monster and places him in a battle for light against darkness. This book is one of my favorite comics I have read recently. Frankenstein’s monster seems to have a patchy memory, and other than recalling random events here and there, he only remembers one name — Frankenstein — which he thinks is his own. In the opening scene, “Frankenstein” is on the run, as he has been throughout his long life. The comic book shows Frankenstein throughout the years as he has been chased in many different areas of the world. But in this most recent chase, he enters a cave and encounters a witch of sorts who heals and comforts him. The five-issue story will come full circle, from physical healing to spiritual healing, but there are many dire events tha... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 9): 1946: The Early Years of the B.P.R.D.

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 9): 1946 by Mike Mignola (writer), Joshua Dysart (writer), Paul Azaceta (artist), Nick Filardi (colors), Clem Robins (letters)

Hellboy first appeared in 1944, a result of German paranormal experiments. B.P.R.D. (Vol. 9): 1946 takes place two years later, when Hellboy's father figure, Trevor Bruttenholm, takes a trip to Berlin on the part of the two-year-old B.P.R.D. He wants to investigate the paranormal work the Germans were doing during the war, but the Russians have arrived first, claiming all the artifacts and papers that Trevor wants to examine. He goes to the Russians to ask for cooperation, and he meets the young, mysterious Varvara, who is in charge of the Russian operations even though she looks only twelve-years-old. She has uncanny knowledge, and she seems to know Trevor's thoughts before he speaks. And she knows of his young ward, Hellboy. She will play a major role in what is happening in the... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 8): Killing Ground: Trapped Inside the Base

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 8): Killing Ground by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

 B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground introduces us to a transformed Johann, eager to try everything he can now that he has escaped his containment suit. And Liz continues to be haunted by her dreams, though she finds comfort in befriending the ancient mummy, Panya, who has joined them at B.P.R.D. headquarters. Abe has recommitted to the team now that he feels he has put his past to rest, as we saw in the last volume. Daryl the wendigo is transferred to the new facility as well, and finally, Daimio is haunted by his past now that his teammates have discovered his familial connection with a war criminal.

All these plot points are expertly brought together by writers Mignola and Arcudi. The wendigo causes more problems than expected, Panya has ... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 7): Garden of Souls: Abe Sapien’s Mission

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 7): Garden of Souls by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

B.P.R.D.: Garden of Souls starts in London in 1859 at the scene of a mummy “unrolling.” Langdon Caul puts in an appearance, and as those who have been reading the B.P.R.D. series up to this point know, Abe Sapien and Caul are the same person, so the presence of Caul is central to the overall story. And the mummy’s unrolling leads to quite a surprise . . .

In the present of the story, we check in with the main B.P.R.D. team: Daimio is receiving a mysterious treatment privately in his room. Liz seems unable to connect with anyone, though she tries, first with Abe and then with Kate. Kate is healing from the events of the last volume, and Abe is still haunted by his past and refuses to discuss it, even when Liz asks directly about it. Johann continues h... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 6): The Universal Machine: The Collector’s Shop

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 6): The Universal Machine by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Steward (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

In B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine, the team is still reeling from the death of Roger, and given the difference between Hellboy stories and mainstream DC and Marvel comics, we have every reason to believe that Roger will stay dead, even though Johann keeps claiming that he is still alive. We still have the core team minus Roger: Liz, Abe, Johann, and Daimio, the most recent addition to the team and their appointed leader in the field under the direction of Kate Corrigan who now usually works from home base in the new B.P.R.D. headquarters.

In this arc, we see Johann and Daimio becoming a main focus and are more fully fleshed out as characters. Johann and Liz try to get Daimio to tell the story of how he died and came back to life three days later. He... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 5): The Black Flame: Echoes of Lovecraft

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 5): The Black Flame by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

B.P.R.D.: The Black Flame is another great entry in the B.P.R.D. series. This volume opens up with a board meeting at a company called Zinco. We are quickly led to see they are a company unlike any other: In the basement, they are running tests on and trying to communicate with frog creatures. Upstairs off of the boardroom is a secret chamber hiding the CEO’s secret Nazi memorabilia. Zinco will have an important part to play in upcoming events.

Back at the new B.P.R.D. headquarters, we find out that Abe is no longer working in the field even though Kate keeps asking him to do so. Abe remains haunted by his past life, which he uncovered in volumes three and four. Meanwhile, in Western British Columbia, the B.P.R.D. team is hunting frog monsters in a snowy... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 4): The Dead: The B.P.R.D. Relocates

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 4): The Dead by Mike Mignola (writer), John Arcudi (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

B.P.R.D.: The Dead is the second main arc of the B.P.R.D. series since the first two volumes were collections of short stories. The Dead advances the plot started in B.P.R.D. (Vol. 2): Plague of Frogs. In this volume, we find out that the frog cults continue to spread, moving quickly and resulting in the deaths of many people. The B.P.R.D. so far has not had any luck in stopping them. While Roger, Liz, and Johann are back at the bureau worrying about the frog monsters, Abe and Kate go in search of the history of the man Abe saw in his vision in the fifth, and last, issue of Plague of Frogs. In doing so, they uncover more of Abe’s past, another tie to the first Hellboy storyline, and a haunted house.... Read More

The B.P.R.D. (Vol. 3): Plague of Frogs: The Hellboy Mythos Grows

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 3): Plague of Frogs by Mike Mignola (writer), Guy Davis (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters)

The B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs is the first extended B.P.R.D. volume since the first two volumes were collections of short stories. Plague of Frogs is a five-issue mini-series. The comic book opens with bloodshed: One scientist visits another to see the fast-growing fungus being watched at a facility. The visiting scientist, out of the blue, shoots the other man in the back, claiming that "the Master commands." Security guards enter and shoot him.

Quite a dramatic opening for an excellent B.P.R.D. story. After this violent start, the comic shifts focus to Abe Sapien who is dreaming of being under the ocean watching an endless flow of dead bodies. We are given the impression that this is a dark premonition. He is still disturbed by the bad dream when he ... Read More

The B.P.R.D (Vol. 2).: The Soul of Venice and Other Stories: Great Stories Without Hellboy

The B.P.R.D.(Vol. 2): The Soul of Venice and Other Stories by Mike Mignola (writer) and various writers and artists

The B.P.R.D.: The Soul of Venice and Other Stories opens with the title story, a tale about the four main B.P.R.D. agents without Hellboy: Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, Roger, and Johann Kraus, who are overseen by direction Kate Corrigan. They are called in to solve the problem when pipes start exploding in Venice and domestic disturbances spike in occurrence. They are drawn to paranormal activity in a house of ill-repute back in the thirteenth century, a house that once was the site of a rich playboy and a vampire who had become friends. Spirits, and more, linger there.

In “Dark Waters,” the B.P.R.D. team is called to a small town where three dead women are found at the bottom of a pond that is being removed from the city center. Abe and Roger go to investigate the three oddly well-preserved... Read More

Darth Vader: Vader by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca

Reposting to include Rebecca's new review.

Darth Vader: Vader by Kieron Gillen (writer) and Salvador Larroca (artist)

Darth Vader (Volume One): Vader by Kieron Gillen is just as good, if not better than, Star Wars (Volume One): Skywalker Strikes by Jason Aaron, both of which came out recently from Marvel. Marvel now has the rights to the Star Wars comic books, and so they are reissuing quickly all the Star Wars comics that were put out over the years by Dark Horse. In addition to these reissues, the... Read More

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 1): Hollow Earth and Other Stories: Abe Takes the Lead without Hellboy

B.P.R.D. (Vol. 1): Hollow Earth and Other Stories by Mike Mignola (writer) and various writers and artists

The first story in this collection, “Hollow Earth,” starts off in the Ural Mountains above the arctic circle where Liz Sherman is seeking help in a monastery as she hopes to learn how to control the fire within her. At headquarters we meet Kraus, whose origin story we get in B.P.R.D.: Being Human. He has just joined the bureau and moved in to make his home at headquarters since he can’t pass as human in the outside world. Kraus joins the B.P.R.D. at a crucial time: Hellboy has quit, Liz still hasn’t returned from the monastery, and Abe and Roger are threatening to leave the bureau. When Liz contacts Abe through paranormal means, she begs him for help, so before Abe can leave the bureau, he and Roger find themselves on a plane heading to the Ural Mountains. Kraus joins them on his first semi-official case wi... Read More

B.P.R.D.: Being Human: Early Cases

B.P.R.D.: Being Human by Mike Mignola (writer) and various other writers and artists

B.P.R.D.: Being Human is a collection of short stories about the early years of B.P.R.D.:

The first story, "The Dead Remembered," takes place in 1976, and the Professor decides to do some rare fieldwork to investigate a haunting. He asks Hellboy to accompany him, but Hellboy, not partial to ghosts, declines, and the professor ends up taking a young Liz Sherman, who has pyrokinetic abilities. This is the first time she goes into the field for any type of investigation. While the story does deal with the haunting, it is really about Liz and her wrestling with her powers. We get flashbacks to her as a child and the critical moment of her childhood that is often referenced in other Hellboy stories: The day Liz lost control of her newly-revealed powers and killed her entire family. In the present of 1976, Liz reluctantly takes... Read More

Hellboy: The Midnight Circus: A Young Hellboy

Hellboy: The Midnight Circus by Mike Mignola (writer), Duncan Fegredo (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), & Clem Robins (letters)

At under sixty pages, Hellboy: The Midnight Circus is a very short graphic novel, but it is worth seeking out. We get a rare story of Hellboy in his childhood years. At the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense in 1948, a young Hellboy sneaks out of his room and overhears his father-figure being warned by another against the dangers Hellboy will bring them all. Upset by the news that others see him as a dangerous threat, he runs away from the B.P.R.D. facility. And of course, as the title suggests, Hellboy will discover the Midnight Circus. But first, as a nice touch of realistic teenager angst, Mignola shows Hellboy smoking what might be his first cigarette, which he stole earlier from one of the B.P.R.D. agents.

Hellboy sees a clown nail to a pole a poster for A. T. Roth... Read More

Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea: Hellboy Goes Sailing

Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea by Mike Mignola (writer) and Gary Gianni (artist)

Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea is such a short volume that, at less than sixty pages, it can hardly be called a graphic novel. Still, it is a worthwhile read and a great addition to the Hellboy canon. The story starts off in a dismal place: a dark, foreboding shoreline with large, shipwrecked boats cast up on the rocks and half-sunken in the shallow waters. The mood is aided by a quotation from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the Romantic poet. From the excerpt of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner comes the title of this volume: Into the Silent Sea.

The story starts off with Hellboy launching from the shore in a small sailboat, and he heads into the windy sea. As we watch him sail, we are given quotations from the poem “The Pilot” by Thomas Haynes Bayly. He app... Read More

Hellboy in Mexico: Mostly Fight Scenes

Hellboy in Mexico by Mike Mignola (writer) and various artists

Hellboy in Mexico is a collection of short stories. It starts out with the same story that is in Hellboy (Vol. 11): The Bride of Hell and Others:

“Hellboy in Mexico, or A Drunken Blur” is a funny story about Hellboy’s lost five months in Mexico drinking and wrestling. The story starts in 1982 with Hellboy and Abe Sapien in Mexico together. Abe Sapien finds an old wrestling poster showing Hellboy with three other wrestlers. Hellboy tells him that it was from 1956. Hellboy then tells Abe the story of how he met the three wrestling brothers who were also monster hunters. Hellboy joined the brothers to fight monsters during the day and party at night. Then one night one of the brothers is taken by the vampires, and Hellboy goes in search of his lost friend. The story takes a strange turn once they locate the lost br... Read More

Hellboy in Hell (Vol. 2): The Death Card: An Ambiguous Finale

Hellboy in Hell (Vol. 2): The Death Card by Mike Mignola (writer and artist), Dave Stewart (colors), and Clem Robins (letters).

This second and final volume of Hellboy in Hell collects issues 6-10. It opens with Baba Yaga reminding the reader what came before: “He fought and killed a dragon but the dragon was actually a witch. Her ghost plucked out his heart and cast it into Hell.” In the first volume of Hellboy in Hell, Hellboy “went into Pandemonium and cut Satan’s throat . . . . And now all Hell is in turmoil.”

When we join Hellboy in this volume, he has been wandering in Hell, lost in the maze-like expansive city surrounding the Stygian Sea. He gets a lesson in geography from two lost souls before a bad reunion and a card game of sorts with a former vampire. Saved by a minister in Hell, Hellboy continues to wander Hell in Chapter One, issue six, “The Death Card”... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 12): The Storm and The Fury: Hellboy and Ragnarok

Hellboy (Vol. 12): The Storm and The Fury by Mike Mignola (writer) and Duncan Fegredo (artist)

The Storm and The Fury takes up where The Wild Hunt (Vol. 9) left off. Hellboy: Volumes 10 and 11 are collections of short stories, so they do not advance the primary plot of Hellboy, which is what we get here. Hellboy is still in England, and knights are rising from their graves as foretold. The signs are dire, and Hellboy is on the case even though he left the B.P.R.D. On the other hand, as we found out in The Wild Hunt, Hellboy is the anticipated king of Britain, so the knights might be gathering together as an army that he is supposed to lead against the Queen of Blood.

This volume begins with Hellboy and Alice talking about what Hellboy’s been up to over the past few years, and this device allows Mignola to remind of us of the m... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 11): The Bride of Hell and Others: Another Solid Hellboy Collection

Hellboy (Vol. 11): The Bride of Hell and Others by Mike Mignola (writer), Richard Corben (artist), Kevin Nowlan (artist), and Scott Hampton (artist).

“Hellboy in Mexico, or A Drunken Blur” is a funny story about Hellboy’s lost five months in Mexico drinking and wrestling. The story starts in 1982 with Hellboy and Abe Sapien in Mexico together. Abe Sapien finds an old wrestling poster showing Hellboy with three other wrestlers. Hellboy tells him that it was from 1956. Hellboy then tells Abe the story of how he met the three wrestling brothers who were also monster hunters. Hellboy joined the brothers to fight monsters during the day and party at night. Then one night one of the brothers is taken by the vampires, and Hellboy goes in search of his lost friend. The story takes a strange turn once they locate the lost brother. Oh, yes, and there’s plenty of wrestling action.

“Double Feature of Evil” contains two stories tha... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 10): The Crooked Man and Others: Hellboy in the Appalachian Mountains

Hellboy (Vol. 10): The Crooked Man and Others by Mike Mignola (writer), Richard Corben (artist), Duncan Fegredo (artist), Joshua Dysart (artist), and Jason Shawn Alexander (artist)

The first story,“The Crooked Man,” is an Eisner-winning comic and the first Hellboy tale to take place in the Appalachian woods and is based on the folklore of that region (though, in an introduction to the story, Mignola makes clear that this story is not an adaptation of any existing story). He also lets us know in this introduction to the three-issue comic that he wrote this tale with artist Richard Corben specifically in mind. Opening in 1958 in Virginia, “The Crooked Man” is about Tom, who comes home after twenty years to find the two women he knew in childhood indebted to the devil, and only one of them, Cora Fisher, wants release. The other woman, Effie, enjoys being a witch and laughs at their suffering. Hellboy goes along on the journey with Tom and C... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 9): The Wild Hunt: Hellboy and Arthurian Legend

Hellboy (Vol. 9): The Wild Hunt by Mike Mignola (writer) and Duncan Fegredo (artist)

In The Wild Hunt, the main Hellboy plot moves forward in a significant manner. As we get into the comic, which ominously begins with Hellboy spying on a funeral of a king, we find two plot lines running throughout The Wild Hunt. First, Hellboy has been invited to gather with a group of men who hunt giants when two or more start roaming in groups to cause ruin and destruction wherever they go. There is a great, long-running history behind the Wild Hunt, which takes place whenever it is needed. Secondly, the creature Gruagach is resurrecting the Queen of Blood so that she will gather forces to seek out and destroy Hellboy. When there is betrayal within the gathering of the Wild Hunt before they even find giants to kill, Hellboy must question where his loyalties lie.

Gruagach’s story is a good one... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: Sixth Annual Speculative Fiction Haiku Contest

Time for our sixth annual SPECULATIVE FICTION HAIKU CONTEST!  Anyone can do this!

As a reminder, here are the rules:

For haiku, the typical subject matter is nature, but if you decide to be traditional, you must give it a fantasy, science fiction, or horror twist. We expect to be told that the peaceful wind you describe is blowing across a landscape of an unfamiliar, distant planet. And if your poem is about a flower, we hope that elegant little touch of beauty is about to be trampled by an Orc. We welcome the sublime as well as the humorous, the pedestrian along with the momentous.

Though you may use the traditional three-line haiku following a 5-7-5 syllable pattern, feel free to break that pattern. Many poets who write English haiku adhere to other expectations:

Written in three lines, though sometimes in two or fo... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 8): Darkness Calls: Hellboy battles Baba Yaga

Hellboy (Vol. 8): Darkness Calls by Mike Mignola (writer), Duncan Fegredo (artist), and Dave Stewart (colorist)

A man trapped behind a wall calls on Hectate and binds her to do his will. Hellboy’s horns, broken off by him in a previous story, are recovered for some unknown purpose. And Hellboy, drinking by a fire safely at a friend’s home, mourns the loss of his mentor. When he goes for a walk, the action begins. And thus starts Darkness Calls, expertly drawn by Duncan Fegredo and colored by Dave Stewart. You do not want this volume to be your first exposure to Hellboy since it picks up many threads from multiple previous stories.

Hellboy is confronted by various creatures who want different things from him: The witches, whose power on earth is waning, want him to be their king, a role Hellboy has repeatedly refused, and Baba Yaga seeks revenge for Hellboy’s taking out her eye. Baba Yaga’s men are... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 7): The Troll-Witch and Others: A solid story collection

Hellboy (vol. 7): The Troll-Witch and Others by Mike Mignola (writer and artist), Richard Corben (artist), P. Craig Russell (artist)

A collection of seven stories, The Troll-Witch and Others stands out for featuring the artwork of P. Craig Russell and Richard Corben on one story each; however, the overall quality of this trade collection is a little uneven.

“The Penanggalan” has Malaysian folklore as its source material. It has a line in it that I love: “I did not say it was true, only that I believe in it,” which is spoken to Hellboy when he expresses skepticism regarding a folk tale. The Penanggalan is a creature whose head comes out of its body with its intestines dangling down from the neck. Hellboy goes in search of it with a young girl as his guide.

“The Hydra and the Lion” takes place in Alaska where Hellboy hunts down the hydra and runs into a girl who claims to be half ... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 6): Strange Places: Two More Mythos-Building Hellboy Tales

Hellboy (vol. 6): Strange Places by Mike Mignola (writer and artist) & Dave Stewart (colorist)


Strange Places is a collection of two top-notch Hellboy stories. “The Third Wish,” the first story, takes Hellboy to Africa. Mignola expertly weaves together several African tales of folklore before taking Hellboy beneath the sea. There he is captured by three mermaids who turn him over to their grandmother, the Bog Roosh, a large fish-like creature. The Bog Roosh traps him in bones made from a man who blames Hellboy for his murder. Each of the mermaids makes a wish but gets more than she bargained for, until the third, only somewhat smarter than her two sisters, makes a wish that will have an impact on Hellboy. And as always, in the end, Hellboy makes his own destiny. It is a story with a beautiful, haunting ending.

“The Island” is the second, and final, story in this coll... Read More

Hellboy (Vol. 5): Conqueror Worm: Hellboy shows its pulp roots

Hellboy (vol. 5): Conqueror Worm by Mike Mignola (writer/artist) & Dave Stewart (colorist)

The comic opens in 1939 with Lobster Johnson, Mignola’s pulp fiction-like hero, invading a Nazi stronghold in a castle just as they launch a manned ship into space. Johnson and the United States soldiers are too late to stop it as it launches just as they invade the castle. The castle explodes at the moment of launch, making that day rumored to be Lobster Johnson’s final mission (Mignola also has a series of books about Lobster Johnson’s adventures). Sixty-one years later, the ship is scheduled to come to Earth. Hellboy and the homunculus Liz brought to life, now known as Roger, are sent there to meet it. Of course, getting up in the mountains on foot to that destroyed castle is no easy feat. And, unfortunately for Hellboy and Roger, it gets much harder from there.

Thus begins another excellent volume in the Hellboy series. There ... Read More

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