GRAPHIC CONTENT PICK OF THE WEEK – ‘Hellraiser’ #8

Clive Barker has only laid his hands on Hellraiser three times. The first was when he put his pen down to craft the original story, The Hellbound Heart, the second was to write and direct the first film, and this gem of a series is the third. There have been loads of garbage sequels, nothing coming even close to Barker’s initial groundbreaking vision. This comic is, in many ways, Barker’s apology to fans for all the trash they had to endure over the years. Barker and Monfette weave magic through the pages together in order to explore Pinhead and the Cenobites in a completely new way, while Thompson’s art duties are to die for. Sure, there may be a realm that transcends the boundary between pain and pleasure, but this one is pure pleasure. With a new arc having just begun last month, things are just beginning. This is the kind of horror comic fans have been waiting a long time for. Read on for the skinny…

hellraiserover8 WRITTEN BY: Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette
ILLUSTRATED BY: Stephen Thompson
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99

“Kirsty Cotton goes back to Hell! When Kirsty receives a startling offer from someone in her past, she’s forced to look at her mission and her entire life in a brand new way. The choice she makes will change the story of Hellraiser forever! Covers by Tim Bradstreet and Nick Percival.”

This series dates back to the beginning of the year, and since its debut issue, it’s had horror fans screaming out their windows at the top of their lungs, tearing their vocal chords, begging for more. Maybe that’s a bit of a hyperbole, but in all seriousness this is a wet dream for people like you and I, the perfect combination of horror and graphic storytelling. It’s often very difficult for horror comic writers to find the balance between gore, the sublime, story, character, and utter terror (unless you’re Scott Snyder) but so far the creative team has hit this one out of the park. The team’s ability to manage proper pacing, extreme gore, and legitimately intriguing characterization make this book stand out, not only as one of the best books from BOOM! but as one of the best horror titles period.

The plot stray quite far from the films, so don’t expect to find a simple retelling of the original tale, rather expect to find, well…the unexpected. To keep it brief, Pinhead wants Kristy to take over for him in hell as head Cenobite (creatures who explore sadomasochism in every respect), and Pinhead plans to walk in the realm of humans. Sound weird enough? Good. Monfette and Barker have been planting all the right seeds since the first issue, and finally this week Kristy and Pinhead will undergo their respective transformations. Things are going to get gory and violent to say the least.

The last few issues have taken Kristy on a tour through the realm of the Cenobites, and by god does it look beautiful. The layout of hell is confusing, surreal, and disturbing, just as it should be, and as Kristy walks through the many extensive hallways, it adds to the general feeling of terror. The last issue ended with Kristy and Pinhead finally meeting in hell, and she is now ready to forgo her normal life and give into Pinhead’s request. The scenery is awe inducing, and given that last month’s issue was a little slower than usual, this month should finally bring to fruition BOOM’s promise that this series will “change the story of Hellraiser forever”.

The artist for the series has already changed several times, though I’m not sure why anyone would give up the chance to illustrate this title, but nonetheless all of them thus far have had the chops to keep up with the writing talent. In fact Thompson and Ordon are probably the best of the bunch so far, so let’s hope they stay on board. What really makes this book pop out is the color scheme. The array of vibrant reds and blues on the pallet are quite eccentric given the otherwise pitch-black coloration of the rest of the book. The stark contrast between colors makes the book so beautiful that it sometimes hurts…but I suppose that’s what Hellraiser is all about. Pinhead is an ominous presence and it’s hard to take your eyes off him at all.

BOOM! has done a standup job with this one. Though the book mainly appeals to fans of the series, by no means do you have to be a Hellraiser expert to enjoy it, it’s simply a great book. It will scare you, it will mystify you, it will show you beauty, but best of all, it will make you think. If you’re not already reading this, demand it for the holidays!