11 days until Hellboy Day - Ogdru Jahad and Ogdru Hem
“Chained in Heaven are they. Seven is their number. Bred in the depths of ocean, neither male or female are they they are as the howling wind, which knoweth not mercy, which knoweth not pity.” These are the first words we, as readers, heard of the Ogdru Jahad. Spoken by Grigori Rasputin during the Project Ragna Rok ritual, he painted a bleak picture of an enemy larger than can be imagined. This enemy, the Ogdru Jahad, have threatened all of existence from the beginning of creation.
In the beginning, God created the universe, and then created spirits to watch over the newly formed Earth. These “watchers,” were to observe our world, and the evolution of life from the oceans. A group of these watchers were impatient, restless, over how slow life was progressing. One of these spirits, the one named Anum, eventually took action.
Anum raised his right hand, and stole the secret fire of creation from God. Out of the mud and the ocean, he used this fire to create life, the Dragon, the Ogdru Jahad, the seven who are one. The plans that the watchers had for the Dragon has never been made clear, but they set their seals upon them and named them Nunn-Jahad, Adad-Jahad, Amon-Jahad, Irra-Jahad, Namrat-Jahad, Belili-Jahad and Nergal-Jahad. To the disappointment of their creators, the Dragon remained lifeless, until night came.
“Evil winds they are. The evil breath that heraldeth the baneful storm. They are miughty children. Heralds of pestilence. Throne bearers of Ereshigal.” As night fell upon the world, Ereshigal, the “Queen and Lord over the Great Darkness between worlds,” looked down upon the Ogdru Jahad, and chose to bless them with her power and purpose. When morning arrived, they gave birth to 369 monstrous children, the Ogdru Hem. The watchers looked upon the Ogdru Hem and despaired, for they were responsible for these creatures of darkness and chaos, when their purpose was to guard against exactly that. It is then that they waged a 10,000 year war.
“Heedless are they to pray and supplication. They are the serpent. They are the furious Beast. The windstorm.” The Ogdru Hem could not be destroyed completely, as when their physical bodies are killed, their spirits remain. The watchers then cast the spirits of the 369 to the wind, imprisoned them in the Earth, the ocean, and into space. The parents, the Ogdru Jahad, could not be destroyed physically or spiritually, so the watchers called upon Anum, who once again used his right hand to wield the last of his stolen fire. This time, he used the power to create a crystal prison for the seven, and cast them into the void. A number of the watchers, terrified by Anum’s deeds and power, set upon him and tore him to pieces (save for his right hand). God, offended by the murder, cast the guilty watchers into the pit. One of whom became Satan, the rest became his vassals.
Though bodiless, and imprisoned, the Ogdru Hem and the Ogdru Jahad were still potent enemies. From the earliest advanced civilization in Hyperborea, to the prehistoric tribes wandering the wilderness, the Ogdru Hem influenced humanity from their prisons. They would communicate with sensitives, and sometimes possess humans or animals to create new bodies. One such creature, Sadu-Hem, was grown from the blood of Hyperborean priests after their betrayal by the Black Goddess, Heca-Emem-Ra. Another, Urgo-Hem, grew from the blood of a former Catholic priest, turned Ogdru Jahad devotee. Over the millenia, many of these monsters made their way back to life, with devastating consequences.
The only known direct communion between the Ogdru Jahad and humanity, was with Grigori Rasputin. As he died in the frozen Neva after an assassination attempt, the Ogdru Jahad chose him to be their representative on earth. With Project Ragna Rok, he set into motion events that put humanity on a course with annihilation. His ritual brought hellboy to earth, he channelled liz sherman’s power with his own and cracked the prison “They are the flood which rusheth through the land. Seven gods of might. Seven demons of oppression. Seven in heaven and seven on earth.”
Throughout the years, Hellboy and his colleagues faced Ogdru Hem in different forms. The medium Mr Tod, who used psychoactive drugs to increase his powers, accidentally summoned an Ogdru Hem spirit, but Hellboy was able to push it back before it broke through into our world. The Conqueror worm was contacted by Nazi scientists and brought back to Earth, defeated by Hellboy and Roger with the aid of the Lobster’s ghost. Of course there was Sadu-Hem, who assisted Rasputin in cracking it’s parents’ prison before being destroyed by Liz Sherman. Hellboy, during his post-B.P.R.D. travels, faced and barely defeated Urgo-Hem, but not before himself dying, and learning the origins of Ogdru Jahad, and his right hand.
Landis Pope, the 2nd incarnation of the Black Flame, performed a ritual with his frog monsters, and raised one of the most powerful Ogdru Hem to ever resurface. “Of giant strength and tread are they. Knowing no care they grind the land like corn.” Katha-Hem attacked major cities, unleashing its transformative “breath” on the civilians and military units that engaged it. Humans that were not outright killed by the mass destruction, became evolved, turned into monsters. Liz Sherman, with the guidance of Memnan Saa and the spirit of a Hyperborean priest, channeled all of her power through an ancient artifact, and destroyed the titanic monster, along with most of its “children.”
For a while, it had seemed that the biggest fight was over. The B.P.R.D. still had leftover frogs to hunt, 15th century collectors to outsmart, were-jaguars, and more. The Ogdru Jahad and the Ogdru Hem seemed like a distant memory. What they were not prepared for, was the alliance between the King of Fear and the Black Flame. “Knowing no mercy they rage against mankind, to spill blood like rain and devour flesh.”
With the intervention of the man known as Memnan Saa, who believed Liz was the rebirth of the Black Goddess, and the spirit of a Hyperborean priest, Liz accessed the totality of her power again. This time, she completely annihilated the frogs, the slaves of the left hand, the King of Fear and the Black Flame. Unfortunately, the side effects of this act kick started a whole new problem for the B.P.R.D. and the world.
On the other side of the ocean, Hellboy himself would be facing unimaginable power. He survived so many conflicts, and eventually came to face Nimue, the Queen of Blood. Nimue, former lover of Merlin, stole the wizard’s secrets and went mad, eventually becoming a devotee of the Ogdru Jahad. After her resurrection and her destruction of England, she came to face Hellboy and either turn him to her will, or kill him. A part of the essence of the Ogdru Jahad came to live in her, and transform her. During the course of the battle, she took the form of the Dragon, until she was eventually defeated, not before sending Hellboy himself to Hell.
The rest of the world had their own problems to deal with. After a series of massive volcanic eruptions, Ogdru Hem were now resurfacing around the globe (or space frisbee if you believe the Earth is flat). The B.P.R.D. did it’s best to contain them, but all of the transformed people and animals and monsters kept them consistently busy. Eventually, the efforts of Zinco CEO Isaiah Marsten, newly resurfaced Drs Kroenen and Kurtz, and unwittingly the B.P.R.D., the Black Flame once again returned to Earth. This time, it was a purer version, not a human possessed with it’s spirit. It is theorized that the Black Flame entity is an avatar, a sliver of the power of Ereshigal, Queen of Darkness. This may be how it found the power to summon an unstoppable wave of Ogdru Hem, and eventually, completely destroy part of the crystal prison, and summon one of the seven Ogdru Jahad to Earth. “Let they seven now rise from the abyss. Away be cast all chains. Freedom is to them. Power is to them.”
Eventually, through the combined might of an overpowered Liz Sherman, and Johann Kraus in the Sledgehammer Vril Energy Suit, humanity had a fighting chance against the monsters plaguing the Earth. Once again, the Black Flame was defeated, but not without great cost. Eventually, Johann Kraus was able to do what even the watcher angels that created the Ogdru Jahad could not. Johann channeled the infinite powers of the cosmos, through the Sledgehammer armor, and in his last act was able to completely destroy the Dragon on Earth.
All of the Ogdru Hem that had resurfaced on Earth became dormant, and it seemed that the new normal was clean sweeping affected areas, and rebuilding. The threat of the Ogdru Jahad and their 369 children seemed to be in the rear view. Satan was dead, Hell was in ruins, the watcher angels were destroyed, it seemed like the world was on track. Unfortunately for everyone, this could not be further from the truth. The demon known as Varvara had new plans, and just below the surface of those plans, was the return of Rasputin.
With Hellboy, Liz Sherman, and Abe Sapien reunited, they are the world’s best last hope. With Rasputin back, the will of the remaining six Ogdru Jahad is once again in play. We are so close to the finale, and no one knows how this will end, but the Dragon will want to have its day, and we just have to hope that our heroes have it in them to save us.
The Ogdru Jahad and Hem are omnipresent in every element of the Mignolaverse. They appear in several issues but often only in reference. They were also feature, to a form, in the first Hellboy film.