Boom! Studios is releasing Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Masterpieces featuring works from the Hellraiser comic originally produced by Marvel/Epic. In the 80’s I was a fan of the Hellraiser movies but I have found they have not held up over time. I was curious to see how the comic world would treat the Cenobites.
Each issue is a series of two or three stories. Some are stand alones while others are continuations of longer storylines. Issue # 6 continues the Devil’s Brigade stories from the previous issue. Included in #6 are part 3 “Inside the Laager,” story by Lana (then Larry) Wachowski of The Matrix fame, art by Joe Barruso, and letters by John Costanza. It continues with part 4 “Shoot High, Break Low,” story by Erik Saltzgaber, art by Mark Bloodworth and letters by Phil Felix.
Looking at the incredible but grotesque covers, you may find yourself expecting not much more than stories of demonic torture. But you’ll find the horror in these comics is not gratuitous. Sometimes the writing is even poetic which is a nice contradiction to the dark images and story unfolding before you.
Continuing where the previous story left off, Hell, the lair of Leviathan and its servants the Cenobites, is in a fight to keep order in the human world. That is, Hell’s style of order. “Inside the Laager” shows the Cenobites interfering with world politics. The segment takes place in South Africa and involves the nation’s leader, a reporter, and a feared executioner. The nation’s leader has had a recent encounter with a Cenobite, who persuades him as only a Cenobite can, that he must fight to keep apartheid in place.
“Shoot High Break Low” takes place in Philadelphia. The city of brotherly love has streets where race relations have made it an unsafe place. And finally, the famed Hellraiser puzzle box makes an appearance! The Cenobites involve themselves with two police officers who could make a difference for good in this divided neighborhood. But is having a positive impact what Hell wants them to do? Probably not.
So far, the other stories pulled from this series haven’t directly touched on political /social commentary but this is certainly heading in that direction. Hope is waning and chaos is reigning over peace.
Hellraiser has always been about the innocent, and not so innocent, getting dragged into the Cenobites’ suffering world. Some seek out the Cenobites to satisfy their innermost desires. Others try to escape by making deals and trading unsuspecting friends/family for a respite from being dragged into hell themselves. On rare occasion we are treated to a flickering touch of their former humanity in a Cenobite. In this issue we’re seeing Hell be proactive- taking direct action in the world to keep it in chaos. It takes the world in a different direction, but one that doesn’t stray too far from the heart of Hellraiser. If I have any complaint, it is just this story arc/issue is missing that little dose of humor that exists in other stories in the series.
Where is all of this going? How will it end? I really do want to know.