The Hellboy Omnibus series reprints all 20 years of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy stories in six thick paperback volumes aimed at new readers who aren’t necessarily interested in shelling out major cash for oversized hardcover Library Editions. These omnibuses are not deluxe in styling; the covers are matt rather than gloss coated, which does make them prone to scuff marks, but this is an accessible presentation of the material. There is, though, one key feature useful to note: the stories have been arranged into strict chronological order, unlike the Library Editions, which printed stories in the order they were created and first published. Some of these volumes also incorporate stories absent from the Library Editions, making this a very convenient way to find all the previously scattered parts of this series together in one place.

Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1: Seed of Destruction collects Hellboy’s adventures from 1994 to 1997, beginning with ‘Seed of Destruction‘, the first Hellboy book and the only one not written by Mignola,  but scripted by John Byrne with Mignola’s art. This is followed by two shorter stories ‘The Wolves of Saint August’, and ‘The Chained Coffin’, then the second full-length book ‘Wake The Devil’, and finally ‘Almost Colossus.’ Strange and surprising though they are, these dynamic and energetic stories are the most conventionally written and drawn of Mike Mignola’s output on this series. Presenting them all together allows the reader to see very clearly how he continually evolves his storytelling style, eliminating the superhero aspects, refining his linework and gradually dropping the highly rendered details to give even more weight to shapes versus shadows, and to write much more idiosyncratic, unpredictable dialogue.

The back of this book has 17 sketchbook pages featuring character designs and pencil sketches for the stories in this volume along with Mignola’s notes about some of the ideas and the evolution of his thinking while creating this series. At less than $20 for 368 pages of comics, the Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1: Seed of Destruction is incredibly good value for money and the ideal way for new readers to get to grips with the Hellboy universe.