3 days until Hellboy Day - Conqueror Worm
“While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”
And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.”
- Edgar Allan Poe, 'The Conqueror Worm' 1843
Ever since the B.P.R.D. put an 'end' to the plague of frogs, we've seen towering, kaiju sized Ogdru Hem sprouting up at an increasingly alarming rate. However there was a time when, not only was it more of a challenge for these malevolent monsters to manifest, but it required the combined effort of some of the universe's most celebrated paranormal investigators to banish them again.
One such Ogdru Hem, known as 'The Worm', followed in the tentacle-steps of Sadu-Hem in becoming the second of these creatures to once step foot more upon the Earth. This 'Buzz Aldrin' of Lovecraftian chaos shared a great deal in common with its precursor; they both made agreements with members of the Nazi project 'Ragna Rok', in order to fully manifest their powers, and they both planned to bring about a complete transformation of human life, heralding a new species dedicated to the worship of the great dragons of chaos, the Ogdru Jahad.
These were the dormant days of the Ogdru Hem, following their banishment they searched for the slightest opportunity to return to life, seeking sympathetic human minds that could assist them. While the corporeal bodies of some of these creatures had been imprisoned underground or submerged into the deepest depths of the sea, others such as 'The Worm' were cast out into the abyss of space, taking on more ethereal forms.
In 1979 a precursor to The Worm unsuccessfully attempted to return to our world from this darkness. Becoming tangible by manipulating one 'Mister Tod', a Portlander psychic. The Ogdru Hem was able to manifest in the ectoplasm being produced by the medium who lay trapped in a state between life and death. Being early enough to the party Hellboy was able to easily stop this attempt, little realising that it would be just the thin end of the wedge for such apparitions.
The stage was set for The Worm's return in 1939 Germany at Hunte Castle. A cabal of scientists, mystics and military top-brass had contacted this cosmological entity by harnessing the latent psychic abilities of holy relics. Specifically the skulls of a number of notable saints and religious leaders, including Saint Dominic, the patron saint of astronomers. It was decided that the mortal remains of Doctor Ernst Oeming*, a scientist known as the 'Nazi Einstein', would be launched into space to act as a vessel for The Worm to inhabit and provide the initial substance from which the Ogdru Hem could begin its materialisation.
Though the launch itself was successful, the operation was infiltrated by the legendary vigilante Lobster Johnson who sacrifced himself to destroy the castle, killing all within, save for the villainous genius Herman Von Klempt who's head was salvaged from the ruin and reanimated in a jar.
Skipping forward sixty-one years, the capsule containing Oeming's body and The Worm was called back to earth by Von Klempt and his grand-daughter Inger, in an attempt to continue the work commenced by Rasputin and 'Project Ragna Rok'. More successful than the Ogdru Hem which had emerged in '79, The Worm was able to begin its work after crashing back into the ruined castle, releasing a pall of gas that transformed Von Klempt's soldiers and scientists into mindless beasts, similar to the frog creatures created by Sadu-Hem at Cavendish Hall, using these bodies to increase in size and strength.
Hellboy came close to defeating The Worm with a device provided to him by a mortally wounded alien known as 'The Visitor', however Von Klempt's robot, replacement body was able to prevent him for finishing the job. Eventually it was a huge dose of energy released from Roger the Homunculus which destroyed the physical presence of The Worm, and though the ethereal form as able briefly occupy Roger's body, this too was destroyed as the homunculus leapt to his death, taking Von Klempt with him.
Though not the first, nor the most successful of the Ogdru Hem to cross into our world, The Worm established that these beings were set on bringing the current existence of humanity to an end, transforming them to their will to restore the Ogdru Jahad to power. Much like the Edgar Allan Poe poem from which the creature takes its name, “The Conqueror Worm”** shows that no matter how much mankind resists and fights, death is inevitable and ultimately it will be the worm who is victorious from our downfall.
*A familiar surname for readers of the B.P.R.D.
** Yes, and also Spencer Wallace Cone's earlier 'The Proud Ladye', but that's a whole other conversation
The Worm only really appears in the self-titled arc of Hellboy.