When Hellboy first started, unless there was a little panel saying otherwise, we always knew the story was set in present day, but since the Plague of Frogs, there's been more and more story to tell, and with such limited space in a monthly comic, Hellboy-time has fallen out of sync with our own time. As more and more time passes, it's easy to forget just how close everything's been happening.
So, I've invented this thread to track it all a little bit as the clues to the timeline are dropped. I'm not sure how elaborate I'm gonna make this, and I'm certainly in no hurry with it, so if you want a more detailed timeline, you'll have to go to the Hellboy Companion (which, just so you know, is mostly canon, but not completely canon... Have fun wrapping your mind around that one...). I'll return to this as I re-read stories.
For now, I'll be picking up from the Nebraska incident in The Black Flame since it's frequently referenced and its date is confirmed clearly in the comics as March 2006.
B.P.R.D.: The Black Flame (March 2006)
- March 2006, the Nebraska Incident
B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine (16th April 2006)
- The majority of this story takes place 16 April 2006.
- The Crab Point incident happened 2 years ago (2004 the Plague of Frogs began).
B.P.R.D.: War on Frogs #3/Chapter 5
- Set in July 2006.
B.P.R.D.: Garden of Souls
- Nothing specific except that Abe arrives at Balikpapan before the 22nd of that month.
- Kate is returning back to work and has a cast on her arm. Since it is unlikely she was away for 8 months, this story is set in 2006.
Hellboy: The Mole
- Set two weeks before the events of Darkness Calls.
Hellboy: Darkness Calls
- In the first epilogue Kate mentions Hellboy has been gone 6 years. Conqueror Worm is set 61 years after 1939, so it was in 2000. This means the epilogue is set in 2006.
- The letter is received a month after it was sent. Hellboy has been staying at Harry Middleton's for at least a month at the beginning of the story. This can further be narrowed down since Kate is not wearing her cast, so enough time has passed since 16 April for her to have recovered. This places the events of the epilogue at June to September.
B.P.R.D.: Killing Ground (September 2006)
- After 23 September (less than a week), Daimio goes on his murderous rampage.
- They've known Daimio for 3 years. Since they met him in 2004, that places this story in 2007. However, this could also be taken as nearly 3 years, since Daimio was introduced very early 2004. This places the story in 2006. See this note for further information.
B.P.R.D.: Out of Reach (September 2006)
- Set only a few hours after the end of Killing Ground.
B.P.R.D.: The Warning (Starts in October and ends in November 2006)
- This story starts a week after the finale of Killing Ground making it early October 2006.
- Abe is searching for Daimio for an unspecified length of time, likely several weeks.
- The attack in Munich happens less than a week after Liz's abduction.
B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess (Most likely late December 2006)
- The battle on the Stanovoy Range happens a month after the battle in Munich.
B.P.R.D.: King of Fear (Most likely January 2007)
- While in Agartha it is said Liz was recovered a week ago.
- The meeting in Washing DC with the US Joint Chiefs was on the 4th of the same month in which the meeting with the UN Security Council happens in the book's finale.
- The UN Security Council meeting happens two days after the global volcanic activity. That places the finale of this story in the middle of the month.
- The events of Garden of Souls happened "last year". Factoring in the time that has passed since the events of Killing Ground, this means this story is set in January or February 2007. However, for it to be set in February, Abe would have to have been looking for Daimio and Daryl for 8 weeks at the beginning of The Warning, so it is most likely January.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: New World (July, 2007)
- Abe makes it quite clear in this story that it is currently July.
- A news broadcast places the Nebraska incident as "last year", which makes this July 2007.
- Kate mentions she didn't have to deal with this UN stuff 6 months ago, meaning the end of King of Fear could have been set in January 2007 at the earliest. This would also mean Abe was out looking for Daimio and Daryl for over three weeks at the beginning of The Warning, placing the attack in Munich in November and the events of The Black Goddess in December.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Seattle (Most likely July 2007)
- Clearly stated to be after the Houston incident from New World.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Gods (August 2007)
- Set two weeks after the incident in Houston from New World. (So late July or early August)
- Kate has to go to Moscow next month (August or September, depending on how late in July New World was set).
- Abe says he's been living with his fear of being like the frogs for 15 years. The Incident in Cavendish Hall was 1994, so that would place these events in 2009, though given the heated argument Abe was having at the time, I doubt he did the maths. This is hardly a reliable reference point.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Monsters (September 2007)
- Enough time has passed since the events of New World for Reverend Paul Nedin to grow a rather full beard.
- This story is set the month after Gods, since Kate is supposed to be going to Moscow, but trying to postpone it.
Hellboy: The Storm (September 2007)
- Set after the events of King of Fear. Likely very close to the events of The Fury.
Hellboy: The Fury (September 2007)
- Set the same time as Monsters.
- In Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible #1, the date of Hellboy's death is said to be September 11, four months earlier.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia (October 2007)
- From Kate's talk with Johann on the plane, it seems very little time has passed since the events of Monsters.
- In issue 5, Iosif makes it clear that it has been "a few weeks" since the finale of Monsters and The Fury.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: An Unmarked Grave (October, possibly early November 2007)
- This is set very shortly after Russia since Kate was making preparations to leave in the final issue of that story.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Long Death (December 2007)
- In the third issue it is stated that it is currently Winter. However Kate is still in England, so it can't be set too far after those events.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Devil's Engine (December 2007 or early January 2008)
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror (???)
- At the beginning of issue 1 it is mentioned that "rumours circulate that Obama may not run for a second term".
This indicates that the year is 2012, which doesn't fit in with any frame of reference provided in the comics at all, not even remotely. However, this is not the same universe we live in. It's possible Obama's first term may have happened a term early. We really don't know. Either way, I'm more interested in the passage of time as it affects the characters than the mechanical workings of the world.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Transformation of J.H. O'Donnell (January 2008)
- The flashback sequence was set in 1987, which was stated in the beginning to be "more than twenty years ago". Happy new year, B.P.R.D.! Welcome to 2008.
- The current events are established to be very shortly after The Long Death, so it would be January.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Abyss of Time (January 2008)
- The present day material happens at the same time as the earlier issues of The Return of the Master. (A week before Wasteland)
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master (January 2008)
- Issue 4 is set a week after Kate approved Zinco's development of the clone body.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Wasteland (January 2008)
- Picks up during the the events of the fifth issue of The Return of the Master.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: A Cold Day in Hell (January 2008)
- Set a three days prior to Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible
- Set a week after the conclusion to The Return of the Master
Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible (January 2008)
- Set four months after Abe was shot.
So the current time in the Hellboy universe is:
Which means the characters ages are:
Hellboy: 62, deceased
Abe Sapien: ...I'll get to this later
Liz Sherman: 45
Kate Corrigan: 48-49
Johann Krauss: 60-61
Andrew Devon: 29
Benjamin Daimio: ??, deceased