First published back in 1991, the sixth issue of Epic Comics’ original ‘Hellraiser’ offshoot series contained another four short stories designed to expand upon Clive Barker’s Hellraiser mythos.  Although Barker didn’t write any of the stories contained within the original Epic Comics ‘Hellraiser’ series, he did however act as a consultant for each issue.

Original Sin – 15 Pages
Ron Wolfe (Writer) – SMS (Artwork) – James Novak (Letterer)

Laura Kendall got what she could for her infant son, Andy.  It was only ever second-hand toys.  It was all they could afford after Jack spent most of their money on booze.  Still, no matter what she gave to him, Andy never put down the one toy he loved.  A puzzle box.  She’d picked it up at a flea market months ago.  Since then Andy hadn’t put it down.  It was as if he’d become obsessed by it.  Turning, twisting, prying at the box.  But it was only when, in front of Andy, Jack started beating on Laura that the box began to make sense.  That the whisperings came together, and the pieces started to move beneath his small fingers.  Andy didn’t know exactly what his father was doing to his mother – but he could sense the anger.  The pain.  The hurt.  The keys to Hell itself…

What an opener!  This is what the ‘Hellraiser’ stories are all about.  It’s a textbook ‘Hellraiser’ story.  An absolutely classic opening sequence – and it has all the elements for a damn good story.  Indeed, Writer Ron Wolfe hasn’t wandered too far from the classic ‘Hellraiser’ style plot, simply building upon its mythos with the introduction of two new Cenobites – somewhat akin to the Wire Twins.  The story is moderately dark, with an overshadowing bleakness to it.  The artwork is similarly of a very high standard.  The character of Laura Kendall looks like a proper 80’s Tina Turner, adding to the 1990’s feel of the comic (a plus point in my book).  SMS’s misty visions of Hell also create a perfectly grim impression upon the reader.  All in all – it’s a damn fine addition to the Hellraiser mythos.

Lingerings – 15 Pages
James Robert Smith (Writer) – Jamie Tolagson (Artwork) – Timothy Harkins (Letterer)

Calvin and Hub were fed up with looking at potential apartments.  However, this new one, on the top floor of the building, overlooking Atlanta, was by far and away the nicest they’d seen.   It certainly had its quirks.  Like the puzzle sculpture stuck to the bedroom floor, and the door that led to nowhere along the room’s wall.  For Cal the quirks just added to the apartment’s appeal.  So the two of them took it.  However, within the first week of living there, Hub began to feel uneasy about the property.  Cal thought he was just being silly.  But Hub just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something else within the apartment.  Something behind that door to nowhere.  Something to do with that godforsaken puzzle sculpture that Cal had become obsessed with…

Oh this is a good ‘un.  Writer James Robert Smith returns with his third offering to the ‘Hellraiser’ graphic novel mythos – this time with another classic ‘Hellraiser’ story.  Smith’s last offering was undeniably lacklustre – with the whole thing dragging along rather than forging a new path for the mythos.  Here we have a completely different offering.  Although no Cenobites make an appearance, and the horror within its pages is more menace than it is demonic, it’s still got enough tension within its bones to grip you throughout.  Indeed, Smith zeroes in on textbook nightmare stuff – such as doors leading to nowhere, whispering sounds in the middle of the night, and the sudden disappearance of ones lover.  It’s all delivered to near perfection, giving the story a very well-executed chill factor.  The accompanying artwork by Jamie Tolagson is also of an incredible standard.  This is how it’s done!

Tunnel Of Love – 5 Pages
Erik Saltzbaber (Writer) – Joe Barruso (Artwork) – Jade Moede (Letterer)

In the Vietnam War you often came across some weird and downright terrifying shit, but their Platoon Sergeant had to admit that coming across an underground tunnel in the midst of all the madness was a first.  Of course, when he called out for a volunteer to go down there and kill whatever goons had crawled into the dark tunnel, he knew he could count on one particular solider to put himself forward.  Atkins was a born killer.  He relished the fight.  Lived for the kill.  Within seconds of agreeing Atkins was down in the endless caverns of the tunnel – seeking out whatever horrors lay in wait down there…

Bang! Short and fucking sweet!  Writer Erik Saltzbaber doesn’t hang about with his quick-fire story; brooding with menace and laced with Vietnam War violence.  Of course it’s not just the enemy down in the tunnels.  They’ve made a pact with the Cenobites.  And now our tough-as-door-nails veteran is taking the fight to them.  It’s high-octane and damn fast paced.  Okay, so you know where Saltzbaber’s going with the story from early on, but it’s still damn good fun.

The Trainer – 19 Pages
Bill Mumy & Miguel Ferrer (Writers) – Bill Wray (Artwork) – John Wellington (Colour) – Bill Oakley (Letterer)

Cassidy had had enough.  His horse wasn’t worth shit, despite Cassidy pumping the beast full of coke.  It was time he taught the horse and its keepers a lesson or two.  Although he still had to find some way of turning his luck.  Somehow getting his good-for-nothing horse to race faster.  And that’s when a wino offers him a pocketwatch that would supposedly do just that.  At first Cassidy didn’t believe a word of what the dead-looking vagrant promised.  But then his horse final came in.  Looks like there might just be something in this pocketwatch.  That is, until Cassidy accidentally breaks it…

As we’ve discovered over the last few issues of the ‘Hellraiser’ comics, the lament configuration can come in many different shapes and sizes.  However, as long as there’s a puzzle to solve within its construction, then it’s got the potential to open a gateway to Hell and summon forth those delightful Cenobites.  Here we have the puzzle cunningly hidden away in a broken pocketwatch.  Of course, in the end it’s solved by the utterly vile horse trainer – Cassidy – and a uniquely poignant comeuppance is duly orchestrated.  All of this is told through some particularly ‘comic book’ style artwork, done by Bill Wray.  It’s not exactly the darkest or most eerie of styles, nevertheless, it does have its own fast-paced and energy-rich charm about it.  Altogether not a bad story to end this particular comic with.

The comic runs for a total of 64 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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