Author: Robert Greenberger
Publishing Information: Dark Horse Books, paperback, 268 pages, $6.99 (US)
Ordering Numbers: ISBN: 978-1-59307-954-3 (ISBN-13)
You didn’t know it until now, but I thought Hellboy II: The Golden Army was the best comic book movie of 2008 – even better than The Dark Knight, which I was crazy about. I also consider Hellboy II to be the second best movie of 2008 (behind the brilliant WALL-E).
As is often the case with science fiction and fantasy movies, a novelization of Hellboy II’s screenplay accompanied the release of the film. Hellboy II The Golden Army may only be a tie-in novel, but it captures Hellboy II director, Guillermo del Toro’s uncompromising vision. Author Robert Greenberger adapts del Toro’s script (written from a story created by del Toro and Hellboy creator, Mike Mignola), transforming an unusual summer event movie into something like a summer potboiler novel.
Like the movie, the book opens with a young Hellboy enjoying a bedtime story told by his adoptive father, Trevor Broom. The story, a kind of fairy tail, involves an ancient war between mankind (the Sons of Adam) and magical creatures (the Sons of the Earth), started by Man’s greed. After the humans initially defeat the forces of the magical creatures, King Balor, the one-armed King of the Elves, commissions the goblins to build him an indestructible army. They do, the Golden Army, an indestructible mechanical army. The Golden Army devastates the human forces to the point that the bloodshed leads Balor to call a truce. Mankind agrees to stay in their cities, while the forests would belong to the magical creatures.
Cut to modern times, and the truce is broken. Balor’s son, Prince Nuada, declares war on humanity and searches for the missing pieces of a golden crown that will give the wearer control of the Golden Army, which slumbers in a secret location. All that stands between annihilation and mankind is Hellboy and the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.), and both are in a state of turmoil.
Hellboy and his girlfriend, Liz, are having relationship issues. Hellboy and Tom Manning, the F.B.I.’s liaison to the B.P.R.D., are clashing because Hellboy wants the world to know that he exists, while Manning lives to keep Hellboy’s existence a secret from the public at large. However, Hellboy and company meet Nuada’s identical twin sister, Nuala, which forces them to focus on Nuada’s war. Meanwhile, amphibian B.P.R.D. agent, Abe Sapien surprisingly has romantic feelings for Nuala, and Washington D.C. sends a new agent, the ectoplasmic medium Johann Krauss, to take command of the B.P.R.D. Now, these outcasts must come together to stop the unstoppable – the Golden Army.
Using straight-forward and rather plain prose, Robert Greenberg conjures the creepy Gothic and weird rococo world of Hellboy II – from the exciting action to the fantastic realms and peculiar creatures that inhabit them. For anyone who has seen the film, the novelization is a good way to relive the fun. This isn’t a great fantasy novel; it is simply something that readers don’t always find – a prose adaptation that is worthy of the original film.