In The Crooked Man, Hellboy confronts a minion of the devil in 1950s Appalachia.
The Crooked Man was published as a three-issue miniseries from July to September 2008. The story was reprinted in June 2010 in Hellboy: vol. 10 The Crooked Man and Others.
The second issue also contains a one-page comic on how to make a Witchball, a device featured in the story. In collections, this story is not collected separately, but nested in between The Crooked Man #2 and #3.
In 2020, Mike Mignola did a two-issue sequel, Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Return of Effie Kolb with artist Zach Howard.
A wanderer called Tom Ferrell finds a witchball and shows it to Hellboy. Tom instructs the locals how to break the witchball curse while he and Hellboy go to find Cora. Tom says he wants to stop and see his parents first, but he is told his mother is dead and his father has not been seen since he left town.
As they travel, Tom tells Hellboy how he has been gone for twenty years, but decided it was time to home come. Hellboy says that he is just passing through. The pair talk and Tom says that the Devil cannot enter a church and that therefore Hellboy cannot be the Devil. Tom also says that Hellboy looks nothing like the Devil.
The two come to Cora's cabin. Tom finds a number of witchballs, a scratched out bible, and a large bug trapped in a bottle, hidden in the floor. Tom heard a voice calling to him and realizes that the bug is her demon familiar. Hellboy interrupts and points to an empty human skin on the bed. The two decide to wait for Cora to return for her skin.
Hellboy asks Tom about the time he saw the devil. Tom replies that it was when he was only 15 years old. A girl, Effie Kolb, convinced him to become a witch. He made a pact with the Crooked Man, a dead local man who served the devil. Tom ran, but kept a lucky cat bone made as part of the pact. Tom kept running and ended up in the army serving in the Pacific. The Bone kept him safe, but he never used it to hurt anyone.
A raccoon entered the house and crawled into Cora's skin, changing back into the girl. Cora explained that she became a witch out of desperation, but that she regretted it. Just then Effie rode up on an old worn out horse. She tells them that the Crooked Man wants Cora back and that he knows Tom has returned. She also gives Tom the horse and flies away. Tom removes the horse's bit and it turns back into Tom's father and dies.
Tom, Hellboy and Cora set off up the mountain to the church so that they can bury Tom's father.
The three, Hellboy, Tom and Cora, walk up the mountain into the woods. As they approach the coal mines, Cora stops afraid to continue. Tom explains that the mines are full of 'Melungion Witches,' decedents of the original settlers from Roanoke. The trio keep going, until suddenly the sky does dark as night falls. The witches call out to Cora from the mines. Suddenly Cora bursts into a mass of insects, snakes and frogs. The creatures swarm Hellboy.
Tom uses his lucky bone to free them from the swarm. Effie appears and tells Tom that even if he did not before, the Crooked Man owns him now. Hellboy shoots Effie. Hellboy and Tom arrive at the church. The priest tells them that a girl had already told him they would come. He tells them that the ghost of Cora sits in the church. Slowly witches surround the church ground. The priest says that the witches cannot touch holy ground. Just as Hellboy is about confront the witches, the Crooked Man appears. He states that he is here to collect on Tom's debt and that he is not afraid of Hellboy.
The Crooked Man calls out to Tom that they had a deal, that now is the time to pay up. The Priest tells him that he is the Lord's now, but the Crooked Man is unfazed. Hellboy, fed up with the Crooked Man, steps out of the church. Pickets fly off the fence and stab Hellboy. Furious, the priest calls out the Crooked Man by name. He tells him to come into the church and take Tom or to return to Hell.
The Crooked Man tries to tempt the priest into giving Tom over. A treasure bursts out into the floor of the church, but the priest is unmoved. The Crooked Man makes the priest twenty years younger and restores his eyesight, but still he is unmoved. The Crooked Man brings a young woman back from the dead to tempt the priest. Slowly all the dead buried in the churchyard rise from the dead as the witches recall their sins. Hellboy and Tom fight the dead.
The Crooked Man tries to make a new deal with Tom, and tells Hellboy that everyone knows he is a Devil. Reverend Watts realizes that the Crooked Man wants the bone more than he wants Tom's soul; the bone has demonic power in it, and the Crooked Man, a miser to the end, can't bear the thought of Tom having even a little piece of that power, even if it is not being used. Watts takes the bone from Tom. He forces the Holy Spirit into the bone and forces the evil out. He consecrates a shovel and gives it to Hellboy. Hellboy hits the Crooked Man and in an instant he vanishes and the witches run away.
In the morning, the priest, Tom and Hellboy bury Tom's father. Afterward Tom and Hellboy head into the wood to get rid of the cat bone. They enter the house of the Crooked Man only to find a tentacled horror embracing jars of money. Tom tosses the bone, now consecrated, to the Crooked Man. The Crooked Man and his 'gold' disappear.
As they head back to the church, Hellboy finds Effie. Without the Crooked Man, she has turned old. Tom places the bit and bridal onto her and she turns into a horse. Hellboy and Tom leave her after painting "Beware! I am a witch!" on her side.
|Hellboy Publication Order|
|The Crooked Man|| Followed by|
In the Chapel of Moloch
|Hellboy Trade Paperback Order|
|Vol. 9 The Wild Hunt||Vol. 10 The Crooked Man and Others|
The Wild Hunt
|The Crooked Man|| Followed by|
They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships
|Hellboy Story Chronology|
|The Crooked Man|
Same time as
| Followed by|
World's Greatest Paranormal Investigator (CBG)