14 days until Hellboy Day - Azazel and Sarah Hughes
Happy families are all alike; every infernally damned family is infernally damned in its own way.
Given his appearance, resilience and the sweeping epic story of his life, it should come as little surprise that Hellboy's origins are less than conventional. There are after all branches of his family tree that are liable to burst into flames.
Hellboy certainly gets his looks from his father Azzael, a duke of the House of the Fly in Pandemonium, not to be confused with Azazel, fallen angel and jobbing X-Men villain. A self-proclaimed former Babylonian god, Azzael came to be the lord of witches across Lancashire, Bromwich (pronounced Brom-itch) and surrounding North West and Midlands of England*. It was here, in the late 1500s, that his worshippers would gather in their masses, literally like witches at black masses.
One of these was Sarah Hughes; born of a line of witches traceable to the bloodline of King Arthur Pendragon, and who at the age of sixteen pledged her life and her soul over to Azzael. Sarah would go on to live a long life, and on her deathbed recanted her youthful life of witchcraft, instructing her 'earthly' son and daughter, by now a priest and nun of the specific treatment her body required.
Knowing that Azzael would return for her, Sarah's body was to be chained within her coffin and a vigil held for three days. If Hell had not claimed her in that time she would be free of the promise she had made. The arrangements were met at the same church in East Bromwich where Hellboy first entered into our world. In a vision at this same church, Hellboy witnessed the return of Azzael who easily broke the chains holding the coffin and dragged Sarah back to Hell where she would give birth to her true child, conceived 43 years earlier on Walpurgisnacht, the night of April 30th when witches were said to travel and meet freely
This child, Hellboy, was given his right hand of doom at birth, becoming a pawn in Pandemonium's power struggle. Azzael sought to see one of his offspring gain the power of Hell's army, choosing Hellboy over his three demonic siblings to wield the power of the Watchers and to claim dominion over the Inferno. As with all of those close to Hellboy, who seek power above their means, Azzael was punished for his hubris. Imprisoned for eternity, powerless.
*This means that I was born and grew up in his constituency and I should probably pay him a little more respect.
Catch up on the family dynamics in:
The Chained Coffin
Right Hand of Doom
The Wild Hunt
Hellboy In Hellboy
The Death Card