Review: ‘Hellraiser Annual 2013′

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With enough disturbing imagery to mess with your head, horror fans should not miss out on the scary and darkly humorous “Hellraiser Annual 2013″ #1. As a stand-alone issue, this is a great place for newcomers to jump into the “The Dark Watch” series. For longtime followers, this is a another reason why they should be excited that Clive Barker is back at writing another “Hellraiser” movie.

Written By: Clive Barker, Brandon Seifert, and Ben Meares
Art By: Jesus Hervas and Janusz Ordon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99
Release: Oct. 30, 2013

In “Good Intentions,” Elliot Spencer has just been released from the orb and found a new body. Spencer is learning how to use to demon-like powers, but someone else is getting in his way. Butterfield is testing Spencer every chance he gets, forcing the former Pinhead to lose his nerves. In “Something To Keep Us Apart,” Edgar Boyle is on an endless search to find the love of his life, Kirsty Cotton. After being back from the dead, Edgar has to go back to Hell if he wants to find himself back in Kirsty’s loving arms again. But the only way to make that horrible voyage is to solve the puzzle box and relive eternal damnation.

With “Good Intentions,” writer Brandon Seifert has pitted a dangerous and deadly enemy against Spencer. Unimpressed by Pinhead’s reign in Hell, Butterfield makes fun of Spencer, attacking his pride and ego. Butterfield is definitely playing around with Spencer, setting him up for a big fall. Seifert wants to show that there is nothing inherently good about Butterfield, the complete opposite of Kirsty. With Abaddon’s troops for the taking, Butterfield wants to prove he is much worse than Spencer.

Artist Jesus Hervas gets the readers ready for an epic battle between monster vs. monster. In his new body, Spencer looks more like a giant spider, with claws for hands and tentacles sticking out of his chest. Keeping with the spider-like character designs, Abaddon’s troops seem more like scorpions, especially when they whip out their tail. Spencer is always smiling in Hervas’ close-ups, as if he is enjoying his new body.

In “Something To Keep Us Apart,” writers Barker and Ben Meares have crafted a love story gone horribly wrong. Edgar is willing to do anything to prove his love for Kirsty, even if it means going to Hell. His only desire is to be with Kirsty again, but his dedication is slowly becoming an obsession. What makes the journey even worse is that Edgar doesn’t know there are different levels of Hell. Even if Edgar goes through each level, Leviathan will do anything he can to keep him and Kirsty separated at all costs.

Artist Janusz Ordon makes sure Edgar isn’t seen as a wimp just because he believes in true love. In the opening pages, Edgar stabs a dealer in the hand, just to get to the puzzle box. Blood oozes around the panels as Ordon focuses on the dealer’s stab wound. Vladimir Popov does a great job in the flashback panels, highlighting the red hues in the black and white illustrations. Ordon finally lets loose on the dark imagery, drawing giant dragons and demons with horns on their heads, as Edgar enters a new level of Hell.

With two excellent short stories by side, “Hellraiser Annual 2013″ has plenty of gore that will satisfy even the most worn-out horror fan. By the time they reach the last page, readers will be psyched with what’s coming up in the “The Dark Watch” series.

4.5/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – Jorge Solis