The Black Flame is the biggest villain in the Hellboy universe. So it's surprising that his "origin story" has not been told before, but this five-issue miniseries corrects that oversight. It all goes back to 1923, with the Cult of the Black Flame, a secret order of priests in the jungles of Siam. Little English girls have been going missing. One in particular taken from Rangoon in British Colonial Burma triggers a visit from two investigators. Initially their inquiries are fruitless, but after they meet up with adventurer Sarah Jewell she arranges a voyage into the jungle with local guide Farang. After a series of jungle adventures (which includes fighting off a bunch of priests with swords) they finally reach their destination. While they free a large group of captives, it turns out that they do not need to free the girl they came for. She has known all along that she was not intended to be the Black Flame's vessel, but servant and spouse to the true avatar. The story closes with their voyage to New York to begin his "great and terrible destiny." Christopher Mitten's artwork is absolutely stunning. He gets the atmosphere exactly right, and crafts a memorable cast in his character designs.
I didn't even realize there could be any confusion! I've read some of the First Comics series, but never even heard of that one.
Well, maybe not a "minute"... more like a split second. ;)
First's "Black Flame" was a [pretty lame] back-up series in Starslayer, that took over all of issue #27.