Issue three is mostly a flashback tale: the readers get to see the formation of Kristy Cottons’ team of do-gooders (if you can call anyone “good” in the world of Hellraiser).  There is one concurrent storyline that will undoubtedly be a table setter for this story arc and many more to come.  This issue is a great introduction to people who are not completely immersed in the world of Hellraiser.  At the same time, though, it does not try to define the “rules” of Hell by pulling back the veil too much. Not having watched past the first three movies won’t hinder your enjoyment of this book, since right from the onset it fills us in on the goings on of Pinhead and his Legions of Hell.  In terms of “jumping on points” this is as good as any, considering it’s only issue 3.  So take off your flesh, grab some leather and chains, sit back and enjoy/anguish in the world of Hellraiser.

The opening scene of the book sets the tone of this issue: Pinhead is holding court with his direct followers, which then juxtaposes with a college professor giving a lecture on the metaphysics of the origins of stories and myths.  Pinhead establishes that only the box remains in play in the “real world”.  As for the professor, his theories on the creation of myths will undoubtedly tie into the overall plot of this story arc, if not the entire series as a whole.  The rest of the book takes off from here, and shows each member of Cotton’s crew, how they were touched by Hell, and the personal Hells that they have each endured.  The gist of it is that each member of the team has come into contact with an “item” that unlocks a doorway to hell.  Each of these people is either given an item, or comes into contact with an item, which then sends them spiraling down the path to fighting the Legions of Hell.  Each item is given to them by a human disciple of Pinhead, who is chosen specifically, and is given a deal that might make you actually consider working for Pinhead.  The ending finds the professor meeting Pinhead, which will change the course of his life forever…

On the writing side of things, the concept of someone fighting on the side of good is a much needed aspect in this book, which would otherwise be an exercise in misanthropy and sadism.  Without any opposition to Pinhead, what would be the point of this series?  What really makes Cotton and her crew work so well is that they are all broken in some way; making them tragic heroes bent on revenge, which adds a great dynamic to the reasons why these “heroes” are fighting the good fight.  Another great angle is Cotton’s choice in adding the very man who worked for Pinhead to the team.  This is very interesting, and it is not clear if the rest of the team realizes that he is, in fact, the human extension to Pinhead’s plan.  This will create some great tension and undoubtedly make for some interesting conversations at the dinner table, as the character seeks redemption.  On a side note, it’s not clear who is doing the main bulk of the writing, if any, but Barker and Monfette blend very well together.  Something not ever mentioned in most review is the superb editing of Ian Brill who is showing his talent as an editor working with a great creative team.  Also, Brill’s great sense of writing shows in his own books (like Darkwing Duck) and he easily makes the jump to editing a horror book.

On the art side, Hellraiser as a franchise has a very stylized look and feel to it, and Thompson does a great job injecting his own style as well.  The real crux of the art is, for a lack of a better term, the “Alien” look to the monsters of Hell.  They don’t look like visitors from outer space, but are unique in appearance in the same vein as Lovecraftian monsters.  Again, much like the writing, the design of the characters is a seamless blend of Thompson and Barker.  My favorite art is the depiction of a person throughout the book that is obviously based on the imagery of a tragic Greek character.  Thompson does such a great job conveying the emotion of hopelessness and tragedy.  The colors in this book are a huge component, lending itself to the mood and imagery, balancing the dark foreboding colors of Hell and the normal coloring of the world, as human life goes on with little knowledge of the true existence of Hell.  Hats off to the wonderful coloring of Jordie Bellaire!

This book is terrifically terrifying for both fans of Hellraiser, and for horror fans alike!

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