2014 marks the 20th Anniversary for Hellboy as it’s been this long that big red’s been kickin’ it in the comics. So what better way to celebrate than the re-release of two cartoon movies featuring the BRPD gang in all their resplendent glory? Originally released as Direct-to-DVD animated features back in 2006 and 2007 respectively, Hellboy: Sword of Storms and Hellboy: Blood and Iron explore a couple of smaller cases for Hellboy and crew that were a little too small for the live action films but just right for some animated fun. Now, in honour of the anniversary, these two films are available together on a handy, dandy blu-ray that includes a mini-comic and everything! I didn’t get the chance to peep either of these cartoon movies back when they first came out so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to see both of them in one sitting and pass my usual brand of judgement on them. Needless to say, there was no real judging going on here as I was greatly entertained by both.
Sword of Storms is the first animated feature from Director Tad Stones and focuses on Hellboy getting caught in a fight set in ancient folklore. An unwitting professor gets possessed by Thunder and Lightning, a pair of Japenese demons locked within a supernatural samarai sword. When the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense send Hellboy to investigate, he’s transported to the spiritual realm that houses the demons and must fight his way through monsters, ghosts and other creatures to find his way back to the real world and end the curse enacted by these elemental terrors. Meanwhile, back on the earthly plain, Hellboy’s cohorts Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien must fight one very pissed-off dragon. Needless to say, the whole team is dealing with a bunch of crap that could spell doom for the world if they don’t take care of it. The second film, Blood and Iron, has a haunted house motif as the BRPD crew, including the aging Professor Bruttenholm (Hellboy’s surrogate father for those keeping score at home), are sent to investigate a mansion filled with harpies, hellhounds, poltergeists and the blood goddess Hecate herself. The battles are mighty and connect to Bruttenholm’s past. Can they overcome the odds and stop a plot to ressurect a beautiful yet evil vampire? Just some more crap for Hellboy and company to take care of and save our asses from.
These stories, while a little long at points, were a lot of fun. It helps when the actors from the live action films are involved. Ron Pearlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones and John Hurt all reprised their roles for these cartoons and it adds a bit of cred to the “world building” that went on at the time. Like I said, the two shorts fit into the Hellboy cinematic universe as they feel like “smaller” missions that the BRPD went on when not dealing with the major threats of the two theatrical features. Peri Gilpin, best known for the role of Roz on Frasier, also sports some voice acting chops as Professor Kate Corrigan in both films to round out the main BRPD cast. Each story showed off the depth of the characters and relationships that was somewhat missing in their live action counterparts. In animated stories, you can get away with having a few more “quiet” moments and this was taken advantage of fully in each of these films. When comparing the two, Blood and Iron stands out as the better flick as there was more of a team atmosphere in place and the story was more centred as the haunted house was the main location for all of our players. It also sported better villains (Nothing beats Hecate, nothing). Looking back at these cartoons that are just under a decade old, it’s obvious that they were creating a great extended universe for the Hellboy theatrical films and it’s a shame that they did not continue after the release of The Golden Army. Sure, that film did not perform on par with the original but I do believe that an audience would still be there for these animated tales. The only real problem was the films felt just a bit too long for their subject matter. A 13 episode series by this team would have been the better way to go and may have resulted in a longer shelf life. Regardless, Sword of Storms and Blood and Iron are both enjoyable features overall and are worth a watch.
If you’re a fan of Hellboy and you didn’t get a chance to check out these two animated features before, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Hellboy Animated on Blu-ray. As an added bonus, the disc comes with a free mini-comic copy of Hellboy: In the Chapel of Moloch right inside the case. The disc and comic are both a lot of fun and make me wish that there was more Hellboy animated on the way. Cut the Crap and pick up a copy today.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!