"Hellraiser: Volume 2" Trade Paperback Review
Written by Ilan Sheady
Published by BOOM! Studios
Originally published as Hellraiser #5-8
Written by Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette
Illustrated by Jesus Hervas, Janusz Ordon, Stephen Thompson
2011, 128 Pages
Trade Paperback released on January 11th, 2012
Before I go into this I should point out that I am probably one of the biggest Hellraiser fans in the world. I don’t believe you have to show how much you’ve spent on merchandise or how many editions of the VHS you own, nor do you need to own any of the original floorboards from the set, but if I had to prove it I’d have a mountain of evidence to back my claim. With that said seeing as I’m reviewing the second volume of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser trade paperback by BOOM! Studios I have to try really hard to prove to you that I’m not being biased.
Firstly a very quick recap:
The new series of Hellraiser comics are written by Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette. This is the first time since the first Hellraiser film that Clive has got his hands dirty on the franchise and seeing as he is (allegedly) overlooking the entire project he’s not likely to get them burnt THIS time.
The series follows on from some time after the little known sequel Hellraiser: Hellseeker or Hellraiser 6 for those who are keeping track (you can be forgiven for not watching it as even though it was released in 2002 it still hasn’t reached British shores, and frankly they needn’t rush). Having experienced all there is in his role as lead Cenobite, Pinhead now yearns for salvation from the monotony of his torturous duties and he sees hope in the actions of one girl, the ‘one that always got away’. Throughout the series Barker and Monfette stitch together what they can of the Hellraiser legacy by taking key details from the films and weaving them together into a much more entertaining tapestry that soon makes itself known as "The Last And Final Remnants Of The Life Of Kirsty Cotton”.
If none of that paragraph means anything to you then it enforces my belief that this story is written specifically for the fans. I suppose you could dive into the book with an open mind, and the first volume does an OK job of setting the stage, but the second volume is a much more complex can of worms.
In the second volume, Requiem, Kirsty is ready to battle for her friends’ lives against the agents of Hell. Our heroine has a plan, but the series has been more eager to inform us that Pinhead has his own. What unravels in Requiem are some great moments that any Hellraiser fan would be thrilled by. The appearance of some classic characters, reminders of iconic moments, witty quotes and paraphrasing and, more importantly, actions and revelations so poetic that it is enthralling to witness. Unfortunately, I imagine that for people who have never watched the films, or even seen no further than the second movie, the experience will be a lot less entertaining.
The salvation found in the book however comes from the incredible art in this volume. In Chapter 5, the illustrations by Jesus Hervas are nothing short of epic and a far cry from the almost impressionist style used by Leonardo Manco in the first. Stephen Thompson and colourist Jordie Bellaire reunite to finish the book with the aid of Janusz Ordon and while in places the style could have been handled a little differently, it doesn’t stop the book from being a beautifully violent work of art, which is what anyone should expect from a Hellraiser comic. As with the previous book, we are treated to a gallery of the twisted covers by Nick Percival and Tim Bradstreet though unfortunately no more art and notes by Clive Barker.
Where the story leaves me I could not be more hooked (a pun?). As a fan, looking at that last page, I strongly believe that the writers have one index finger on their nose while pointing directly at me with their other. I have complete faith in Clive and Christopher’s definitive conclusion to the franchise and, provided they brutally deny that Pinhead was actually killed off in space in Hellraiser 4, the fans will love it.
Click images to enlarge.
Fun fact: Actress Ashley Lawrence who played Kirsty in the movies is also an artist who always ‘immersed herself in paintings’ and has a strong gallery of work that has references to ‘spiritual confrontation and victory over manifestations of evil’. Did that inspire the development of Kirsty in this comic then?