Hellraiser #1 Written by Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette
Art by Leonardo Manco
Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Cover A: Tim Bradstreet
Cover B: Nick Percival
Cover C: Clive Barker
Release date: March 23, 2011
It’s always funny to hear that with all the Hellraiser movies out there, Clive Barker has only been involved in the first movie, and the novella that movie was based on. And that’s it. And this is the name most often connected with the series. So I’m sure it’s exciting for horror fans to learn that Barker has returned to the series that made him famous, as he has with the new comic series from BOOM! Studios. It’s been almost 25 years since he last worked on the series, so now it’s time to see if he has picked up where he left off.
Anyone familiar with the movies will be right at home with this comic. It quickly sets up the familiar elements of the series: the puzzle box, the Cenobites, lots and lots of bodies without any skin — they’re all here within the first 10 pages. Hellraiser #1 sees Pinhead, the most famous of the Hellraiser characters, as he tries to make some kind of deal with a powerful force. It also brings back a character that will be known to people that know the series, but others will need to check the Hellraiser Wikipedia entry.
The writing is very good and Barker already seems to have a good handle on how to write for comics, this may be because of co-writer Christopher Monfette. The danger with a lot of novelists making the leap to comics is that the work can get over-written, but that does not happen here. The story flows well and it also sets the right mood for a horror comic.
The only problem with the issue is that if you haven’t seen the movies, you may be a little lost. I know the movies are pretty popular, and that this book is mostly going to appeal to people who are pretty well versed in series knowledge, but it would have been nice if they had spent a few pages establishing who the Cenobites are, what their deal is, and what is up with the puzzle box. The big reveal at the end only has an impact if you know who the character is. It works well enough, and it may be expanded on in later issues, but it may have been helpful and made the book more accessible if there had been a bit more explanation.
What I can’t complain about is the art. The work by Leonardo Manco is pitch perfect and really sets the mood for the book. His characters looks great and he really gets the creepiness of the subject matter. Horror is really hard to get across in comic books at times, but Manco makes it look pretty effortless. The Cenobites look as scary as they should and the storytelling is also very clear. The art has a very Michael Lark/Alex Maleev quality to it, and the art alone would be enough to get me interested in the series.
Be warned: this is a book for mature audiences. There is a fair amount of graphic art, and it may not be for everyone. However, if you’re a fan of the Hellraiser series, and especially if you’re a fan of Clive Barker, you will want to pick this issue up. It’s got everything that you would be looking for from this series. I’m giving this one a 4 out of 5. Now, I have to get back to figuring out how this crazy gold box works.