First published back in July of 2001, Clive Barker’s ‘Six Destines’ short stories were penned to accompany the first series of the ‘Tortured Souls’ action figure set, which were sculpted and designed by Todd McFarlane.  This first series included six figures, each of which included their own individual short story which told the reader a little of the mythology behind each figure.  A second series of action figures was later released in October of 2002; however a short story did not accompany any of these later action figures.

The first story in the series is for ‘Agonistes’ and forms Book One of the ‘Six Destinies’ stories titled ‘The Secret Face Of Genesis’.

The ‘Tortured Souls’ stories were later combined into a limited edition hardback entitled ‘Tortured Souls: The Legend Of Primordium’ (2015) that was published Subterranean Press.

DLS Synopsis:
He has existed for over two and a half thousand years.  He has been given many names, this transformer of human flesh.  The first name he was ever given was Agonistes.  If Cardinal Gaillema is to be believed from his writings within the heretical volume ‘A Treatise On The Madness Of God’, then Agonistes was one of those that was created by God on the seventh day, when many believe he simply rested.

A being that exists to change the shape and form of those which call upon him.  If a Supplicant’s prayers sound sincere and genuine, then Agonistes will fulfil their agonising desires.  And he will not stop, no matter how much they plead once they are committed to his artistry.  Their flesh is his.  And with his instruments of torture, his scalpels and blades, he will change the flesh and bone of these Supplicants, to make them into the image of their enemies’ nightmares…

DLS Review:
For the first short in his ‘Tortured Souls: Six Destinies’ series, Clive Barker has penned a darkly evocative and utterly chilling introduction to the character of Agonistes that brings back echoing memories of the author’s demon-like Cenobites from his novella ‘The Hellbound Heart’ (1986) and indeed the entire ‘Hellraiser’ franchise.

Written in two sections, the short tells of the character’s intricate mythos, interweaving the sculptor of flesh into the Christian faith with his surprising creation being the work of God.  Indeed, Barker casually those the likes of Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate into the short story, making them into willing Supplicants for Agonistes.

It’s a truly powerful and imaginative piece of chilling dark fiction, creating an intricate web of mythology for this first ‘Tortured Soul’ within such a short space.  Barker’s words are as haunting and suggestive as ever, making the short another perfect example of Barker’s masterful writing ability.

The short spans across the width of one side of the fold-out sheet that comes included with the ‘Tortured Souls’ action figure.

© DLS Reviews

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