A Hell Of An Arc – Andy Burns On BOOM! Studios Hellraiser Volume 1

A few months back I reviewed the first issue of the new Hellraiser series from BOOM! Studios, written by the one and only Clive Barker (with help from Christopher Monfette). At the time, I was impressed with where the series was starting from and where it could be heading (check out the review here). Today sees the release of the first four issues (along with issue 0) of the series in trade paperback. If there was any reason you might have been waiting on catching up on the new exploits of Pinhead, I’d say this collection is the perfect time to start reading.

The current Hellraiser comic book is a de facto sequel to the first two (and arguably) best movies in the entire series, with the familiar character of Kirsty Cotton playing a pivotal role alongside everybody’s favourite Cenobite. Having suffered at the hands of Pinhead and company, Kirsty is in full on vengeance mode in the comic, looking to destroy any and all devices that humans can use to summon Cenobites to Earth. In the meantime, Pinhead has grown tired of his role as the priest of hell and is looking to restore his own humanity. All he needs to do is find someone to take his place.

Barker, Monfette and artists Leonardo Manco and Stephen Thompson pull no punches with this latest incarnation of the bloody franchise. Limbs are torn apart, flesh is peeled from bone – it’s pretty much what you come to expect from the Hellraiser mythos. And if you like that sort of stuff, you’re certainly going to enjoy the book. But Hellraiser is more than just a horror comic.

It’s an intelligently written series that treats its characters with respect. Pinhead has always been far more complex a horror icon than, say, Jason from Friday The 13th or Michael Myers from the Halloween films. He has been devoted to his craft of torture and pain, and it’s interesting to see him looking for something more satisfying. Of course, he is also as evil as you remember him; it’s not as though Pinhead has suddenly become a softie. Take the horror out of it for a moment and you’re left with a character that’s done the same job for as long as he can remember and it just isn’t enough. It’s fairly thoughtful stuff, wrapped up in chains and fetish outfits.

Reading Hellraiser, it feels like Clive Barker has big plans for his most infamous creation. I’m happy to say, I can’t wait to see what happens next. One thing is guaranteed, mind you – there will be blood.

Take a taste of where he’s going with Hellraiser Volume 1, available at your local comic book shop or at Amazon.

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