I’ve written a few times now about the (I’m sorry, for using the word because it’s terribly overused and has lost all meaning) epic nature of some of comics’ greatest stories. Comic books can be as an emotional and provocative medium as there is, but there are other comics that paint a much brighter picture of the human condition. It might come as a shock to you, but Hellboy at its core, is one of those. Don’t let the name or appearance of the titular character, fool you; this is a story about how the love of one person…especially a parent…can forever change someone’s life, purpose, and destiny.
Hellboy is a demon summoned into our world through an occult ritual performed by Grigori Rasputin under the employ of the Nazis during the final months of World War II. His entire purpose was to bring about the end of the world. But the Nazis were defeated by Allied forces and the baby demon was discovered by British professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm. The soldiers in Broom’s unit name him Hellboy because of his demonic appearance, and Professor Broom ends up raising him as his own. Through the love of Professor Broom, Hellboy rejects his terrible beginnings, forsakes the horrific destiny laid before him, and instead decides to live out the example and higher purpose his “father” set for him: service to and protection of others.
The juxtaposition of hellish imagery and beautiful themes, makes for an extremely compelling tale. I think everyone can relate to this contrast. We all have things from our past that we aren’t proud of, that we maybe even hate about ourselves. But how amazing is it when you find someone that, despite your past, your mistakes, and your failures, loves you anyway?
On full display in this story, is the incredible impact of a parent in a child’s life. A parent, in this case a father, shapes the future of his/her child. Had Hellboy been raised by Rasputin as was the plan, he would have lead to the destruction of the world as we know it and ushered in Hell on Earth. But instead because he was raised by a father that loved him and genuinely cared for others, he became the protector of Earth. Possibly my favorite exchange in the Hellboy movie illustrates the contrast of how Rasputin and Broom view Hellboy: Rasputin asks Broom “He disclosed to me the child’s true name. Would you like to hear it?” to which Broom replies, “I know what to call him. I call him ‘son’.” While Rasputin saw Hellboy as an object to achieve is own personal goals, Broom saw Hellboy as his child, someone he loved more than anything and was willing to die for.
It’s amazing what one small act of compassion can do to change not only one person’s life, but the whole world. This world is full of broken and hurting people full of regret, shame, and pain. Let’s all decide to be the Professor Broom to those people and shower them with love, compassion, and kindness. You never know…you could be positively effecting the future of the entire planet. And even if not, you’ve changed the life of that one person, and to me that’s just as remarkable. And if you are reading this and feeling like you’re the Hellboy in the scenario, know this: you are not defined by your past…you are not alone…and you are loved. Choose today to leave that past behind you and become what you truly are…someone with the ability to change the lives of those around you with the power of your story. I leave you with the words of Agent John Myers: ” What makes a man a man? A friend of mine once wondered. Is it his origins? The way he comes to life? I don’t think so. It’s the choices he makes. Not how he starts things, but how he decides to end them.”