Abe Sapien

Abe Sapien

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Abraham Sapien
250px AbeSapien Abe Sapien
Abe Sapien by Mike Mignola
Publication information
Publisher Dark Horse Comics
First appearance Hellboy: Seed of Destruction (1993)
In story information
Alter ego Langdon Everett Caul
Team affiliations B.P.R.D.
Abilities Underwater breathing, increased intelligence, excellent marksman, formidable hand-to-hand combatant,
(film version) psychometry, telepathy

Abraham “Abe” Sapien (born Langdon Everett Caul) is a fictional character in the comic book series Hellboy, created by Mike Mignola. He is identified as an icthyo sapien, similar to a merman.

As well as regular appearances in Hellboy and B.P.R.D., Sapien has also starred in his own one-shot comic, Abe Sapien: Drums of the Dead by Brian McDonald and Derek Thompson, and the mini-series Abe Sapien: The Drowning by Mike Mignola.


  • 1 Character history
  • 2 In other media
    • 2.1 Films
    • 2.2 Animation
  • 3 Footnotes
  • 4 External Links
  • 5 See Also

Character history

Sapien was formerly Langdon Everett Caul, a powerful businessman involved with a strange cult during the Victorian era. After retrieving a strange jellyfish-like deity from an underwater ruin, Caul and other gentlemen perform an arcane ritual that ends with the creature’s release and Caul being turned into an icthyo sapien. The men in the room then place the icthyo sapien’s body in a tube of water, which was found a century later in the basement of a Washington, D.C. hospital. With no memory of his life before, the icthyo sapien received a new name from a piece of paper attached to the tube, dated the day of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination (April 14, 1865). Sapien was brought to the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) for research after being discovered, and was saved by an empathetic Hellboy from curious BPRD scientists who wanted to dissect Abe to advance their research. Thereafter Abe quickly entered the ranks of the BPRD, alongside the demon Hellboy and eventually the pyrokinetic Liz Sherman. During the climax of Seed of Destruction, Sapien is possessed by the spirit of a long-dead whaler Elihu Cavendish, who kills the mad monk Rasputin, and foils his plans to unleash the Ogdru Jahad to destroy the world. In Wake the Devil, Rasputin’s spirit warns Sapien that he will be speared to death, just as he was. Abe also plays a critical role in reanimating Roger the Homunculus in Abe Sapien vs. Science, when the same scientists that wanted to dissect Sapien attempt to do so with Roger.

In Plague of Frogs, Rasputin’s prediction came true when Sapien was impaled by a spear and apparently killed by one of the Ogdru Jahad’s followers. Rather than dying, however, Sapien had an out of body experience that brought him to his former life in pre-Civil War America. Witnessing his past self’s actions, Abe entered Caul’s body prior to his transformation, creating a spiritual/mystical time loop before Abe returned to life in the present, making a fast recovery and began to do research into his past life. As a result, Abe learns of Edith Howard, Langdon Caul’s wife, who drowned herself out of madness, becoming a specter that was forced to be exorcised after she attempts to have Sapien resume his life as Caul, leaving Sapien with the memory of a wife he could never know.

In Garden of Souls, Sapien is contacted by Panya, an ageless mummy trapped by the Oannes Club. The Club proves to be made up of Sapien’s compatriots from his former life as Langdon Caul, who are sequestered away on a hidden island in Indonesia. Trapped in cyborg bodies, the club occupy themselves with growing new bodies for themselves. They plan to use bombs to cause massive tidal waves which would kill most of the people in the country, (whose souls could then be harvested by the Club) but Abe manages to single-handedly destroy the entire club and escape with Panya.

The Drowning, set in 1981, chronicles Sapien’s first BPRD mission without Hellboy.

In other media

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Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) from Hellboy (2004)


In the 2004 film adaptation, Hellboy, Sapien is played by Doug Jones, and voiced by an uncredited David Hyde Pierce in the first movie, who refused credit out of respect for Jones’s performance.[1] In the movie, Sapien is psychic, and psychometric abilities. Sapien’s genetic makeup gives him the power of ultra-sentience found in the most mysterious and intelligent underwater creatures. With a frontal lobe resembling that of a dolphin, Abe is able to transmit and receive electro-psychic information in the same way that cetaceans use sonar. Sapien has encyclopedic knowledge of the occult, and holds a paranormal expertise rivaled only by Professor Bruttenholm.

Unlike the comic version, Sapien is unable to survive indefinitely out of the water for long periods without an apparatus resembling a collar that provides water to his gills.

This version of Sapien enjoys ingesting thousand year eggs. He spends much of his time reading four books simultaneously and attempting, unsuccessfully, to solve a Rubik’s Cube.

Sapien appeared in the film’s 2008 sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, in which he was played and voiced by Doug Jones, and in which he falls in love with the elf Princess Nuala.


Abe Sapien is one of the characters appearing in two straight-to-DVD Hellboy Animated films, in which he is voiced by Doug Jones. This version of the character, although similar to the movie Sapien, is much more like his comic book counterpart, showing signs of neither the psychic abilities nor breathing apparatus.


  1. ^Doug Jones interview“. Horror.com. Retrieved on 2007-06-03. “he was quoted as saying, “That was Doug’s character and I wanted to leave it that way””

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