First published back in June of 1991, the seventh issue of Epic Comics’ original ‘Hellraiser’ offshoot series contained another five 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.

I In The Pyramid – 6 Pages
Bob Washington (Writer) – John Rheaume (Artwork) – Jade Moede (Letterer)

She was determined to solve the puzzle.  It would prove she had the motivation, the stamina, and the willpower in order to succeed.  Solving the puzzle would start her enrolment into Donald ‘The Wallet’ Wallace’s ‘University of Adversity’ program.  She just had to solve the damn thing.  Then it would open all the doorways she would ever need…

Here we have a short little offering that gets straight to the point.  It’s a nice and straightforward ‘Hellraiser’ story.  Solve the puzzle and you’ll open the doorway to your dreams.  Only the doorway that it’s opening isn’t exactly what Ms Hansell is expecting.  Yeah, it’s a pretty simple affair.  And it works relatively well.  Although for some godawful reason, artist John Rheaume has decided to use the comical looking Cenobite that artist Mike Hoffman’s previously introduced to the comics.  Dialogue also feels clumsy and a tad too bulked out, ultimately leaving the story feeling short but not altogether successful.

Demons To Some, Angels To Others – 15 Pages
Nicholas Vince (Writer) – John Bolton (Artwork) – James Novak (Letterer)

The Christian Army Fellowship’s illustrious leader, Samuel, had already banned almost everything that was pleasurable.  Because of his strict ruling, Rebecca had become increasingly frustrated.  Luckily she had David to hand.  A man she could enjoy.  A man she could coerce into enjoying some of the natural pleasures of the flesh with.  But Samuel wouldn’t tolerate such sinning.  He called the two of them out.  Showed them the error of their ways.  And revealed the pathway to salvation, so at last, his divine plan could be accomplished…

Writer and Chatterer Cenobite - Nicholas Vince – returns to the ‘Hellraiser’ graphic novels with another dark and deviously corrupt story.  Told with almost a poetic prose, the short tale is one that toys with you and your senses rather than scribing out a full story.  The characters are barely fleshed-out, instead being mere pawns for the story to utilise.  Mistaken devotion and subconscious corruption play a heavy hand in this darkly enchanting offering, with talented John Bolton’s artwork forming the perfect accomplishment to the tale.  Bolton’s artwork is so good, and so compelling, that it enhances the story no end.  These two are probably the perfect partners in Hell.

Under The Knife – 16 Pages
Ron Wolfe (Writer) – Bill Reinhold (Artwork) – Linda Lessman (Colourist) – Willie Schubert (Letterer)

With news that the Chicago Ripper had now killed his third victim, the story was assigned to News Reporter Hank Windell in order to get the Sun Tribune Journal a truly sensational story.  The paper’s editor had already pulled the original Jack The Ripper file for Hank.  Now it was time to hit the streets and pick up whatever leads he could.  The first stop being the scene of last night’s crime.  A shithole where a prostitute named Rebecca Lloyd had been slaughtered.  It was also where Hank would meet Glenda Martinac – the woman who would open up the story for Hank…and a hell of a lot more…

Writer Ron Wolfe kick starts his story off in 1888 where we witness Jack The Ripper doing what he does best.  From there we’re flung forward to (what we assume is) the present day.  A copycat killer style plot quickly forms, with reporter Hank Windell being told to drop everything and concentrate on bringing in the sensational killer story.  The intrigue and mystery build up from here until the big twist is revealed, and with that, the whole ‘Hellraiser’ element is brought in.  From this moment on it’s quite simply a great Hellraiser offering.  The idea is tight and wonderfully in tune with the entire mythos.  The new addition to the ranks of the Cenobites is also incredibly inspired.  It’s just a damn good read.

Clowning Around – 6 Pages
D.G. Chichester (Writer) – Kyle Baker (Artwork) – Phil Felix (Letterer)

When the Mr Winky Dink Show first ran the audience – made up of young boys and girls – would wait in anticipation.  Now the hellbound children who had been unwittingly drafted into this eternal show, waited in trepidation.  Their host – the clown Winky Dink – nothing more than an illusion of happiness.  His games – all vicious and deadly.  Here there is no fun.  No smiles of happiness or laughter of joy.  Here there is only an illusion.  A deadly illusion.  Put on a happy face indeed… 

This has to be the oddest offering to the Hellraiser mythos to date.  Okay, so the story itself is pretty out there.  It’s like the Krusty The Clown Show, only taken to a hellish extreme.  However it’s the artwork that really makes the story stand out from the rest.  Here artist Kyle Baker offers up scrappy, newspaper sketch style cartoon artwork.  It’s bright and colourful and fits the comical story well (however dark the comedy actually is).  Nevertheless, it still feels too out of place with the rest of the stories, and as such, just doesn’t sit right.  The story itself is also just that bit too sketchy and bizarre to leave the reader feeling anything but a tad disappointed.  Oh well…can’t win ‘em all!

Devils Brigade: Part One – A Call To Arms – 15 Pages
D.G. Chichester & Dwayne McDuffie (Writers) – Paris Cullens & Tom Palmer (Artwork) – Gloria Vasquez (Colourist) – Phil Felix (Letterer)

There is a centre point to the Abyss, an appropriately dark place to which the aimless light of humanity may never hope to reach and from whence the conformed glory of the lower pits stretch forever.  It’s here that the grotesque Cenobite Flagellum dreams her endless dream.  Where the monstrous Chidna and Basilish dance intertwined with each other in a timeless embrace.  It is where Flagellum exists in a restful peace.  It is the only feeling she has ever known.  Yet the Cenobite’s state of nightmarish meditation has become disturbed.  Her sleep has ended.  Her chamber has turned into one of conflict and restless pain.  A struggle for power along five different lifelines has begun.  Five fronts in war.  The time of configuration has commenced, and it is Flagellum who must marshal the forces.  It is time for an unholy war.  One which threatens to see Hell itself falling apart…

Writers D.G. Chichester and Dwayne McDuffie join forces to lay out the first slab of a sixteen part story which sees a colossal movement occurring in Hell.  Here we have a new Cenobite brought to the table – a grotesquely fat demon named Flagellum whose existence is almost a contradiction within the endless corridors of Hell.  Based around the upkeep of a constant balance between chaos and order – a sort of Ying and Yang philosophy – the story is a strangely sketchy one.  From the outset the reader must piece together the lyrical dialogue that accompanies each frame in order to discern any sort of plot or premise.  You get the impression of something quite monumental taking place.  Demons are being summoned.  A relatively confusing mix of rituals are being performed.  It’s odd but nevertheless incredibly evocative.  And you get the feeling that this is just the start of something big.

The comic runs for a total of 64 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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