Review: ‘Hellraiser’ #19

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There is something visually disturbing on almost every page of Hellraiser #19. The story arc is layered with subplots and the illustrations are eerily atmospheric. This “Hellraiser” series continues to be an ambitious effort. Back at the helm, Clive Barker maintains his original vision of terror and gore that was established in his novella, “The Hellbound Heart”. This issue will make you forget about the previous sub-par sequels that have plagued the “Hellraiser” franchise.

WRITTEN BY: Clive Barker and Mark Millar
ART BY: Janusz Ordon and Tom Garcia
PUBLISHER: Boom! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE: October 24th, 2012

Having grown tired of being the Devil’s servant, Pinhead, AKA Elliot Spencer, manipulated Kirsty Cotton into taking his place at Hell’s throne. Removed from the rest of humanity, Kirsty never realized she was actually an unwilling accomplice in remaking the world in Pinhead’s version. As Pinhead gains more power as a supreme being, Kirsty is on a nightmarish journey with the Leviathan. With the help of the Leviathan, Kirsty must find an important clue that could stop Pinhead. Elsewhere, Harry D’ Amour, the occult private eye from Everville, finds himself thrown into the mix. The Female Cenobite warns Harry that Elliot Spencer has a living heir outside in the world, hidden from prying eyes.

Barker and co-writer, Mark Millar successfully keep fans entertained by the upcoming apocalypse and invested in Elliot Spencer’s past history. Priscilla Spencer, Elliot’s daughter, was mentioned in conversations in previous issues. Now, readers get to see what Priscilla really looks like, and it is not a pretty sight. Priscilla will certainly play a pivotal role in the upcoming story arc, and readers will find out later just whose side is she on.

Interestingly, Barker is taking characters from the films, such as he did with Tiffany, and re-creating them as comic book characters. In Hellraiser II: Hellbound, Leviathan was established as the god of Hell and ruler of the Cenobites. In the comics, Leviathan is more like a guide to Kirsty, taking her between the realms of Hell and Purgatory. The Leviathan previously saw Pinhead more as his loyal student, teaching him about the pain and pleasures of the flesh. In a well-developed character arc, The Female Cenobite, who always served with Pinhead, has become a powerful ally to Harry and Kirsty.

The character design of Harry D’ Amour is surprisingly different and caught me off-guard. Because I am a huge fan of Lord of Illusions, I expected Harry to look more like his live-action counterpart, actor Scott Bakula. In a departure from the film, Harry is more rugged and hardened, representing a tough New York attitude. By keeping him grounded in reality, Harry’s character design is closer to the descriptions from the short story, The Last Illusion. His appearance doesn’t disappoint me, but it also makes me wonder why the comic is deviating itself from this cult classic.

Artists Janusz Ordon and Tom Garcia have done a terrific job capturing the dark cinematic look of the first Hellraiser film. As she explores Elliot’s memories, Kirsty is blurred while everything else in the foreground is in focus. This blurring technique makes her seem ghostly as she phases through the past to the present. You might have to pick your jaw up off the floor once you see Priscilla on the last splash page.

“Hellraiser” #19 is a well-balanced combination of bloody gore and epic mythology. This isn’t just a completely satisfying comic for “Hellraiser” and “Lord of Illusions” film buffs, but for all horror enthusiasts in general. You definitely want to be there when Pinhead unleashes his unholy powers onto the rest of the world.

Rating: 4/5 skulls

Reviewed by Jorge Solis