Review: Clive Barker’s Hellraiser #1


Clive Barker’s Hellraiser #1 is written by Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette, and illustrated by Leonardo Manco. The book features covers by Tim Bradstreet, Nick Percival, and Clive Barker. The 40-page colour comic was released by BOOM! Studios on March 23rd, 2011, and costs $3.99 US.

One of the greatest horror franchises of all time returns, now under the control of its original creator! Clive Barker has touched Hellraiser only twice: once to write The Hellbound Heart, and once more to write and direct the original Hellraiser film. Now witness Barker’s long-awaited return to tell a new chapter in the series’ official continuity—a trajectory that will forever change the Cenobites… and Pinhead!

Before I get into the review, I want to say a few words about the continuity of this series, for those who may be confused. First off, this comic is set in the continuity of the Hellraiser movie series, and not that of The Hellbound Heart novel. I mention this because Clive is also working on a follow-up to the original novel, called The Scarlet Gospels, which pits Pinhead against his other famous creation, Harry D’Amour. So If you’re a Barker fan eagerly awaiting this novel (as am I), this is not it’s replacement. In terms of the movie continuity, it looks like the story follows on from the events of at least the first two movies. I say this because when we catch up with Kirsty Cotton, reference is made to her time in the Channard institute during the second film, and we also get glimpse of Leviathan, which was introduced in the second movie. There is also an oblique reference made to Kirsty’s failed marriage, as seen during the sixth Hellraiser movie. In terms of the past comic book series, it seems that at least of the events of the Epic series are still considered to be in continuity, because reference is made to the Harrowers - mortals equipped with special powers to do battle with the Cenobites.

This first story arc, called Pursuit of the Flesh, is an eight-part story, which promises to forever change the Cenobites, and Pinhead. The story opens with a man on a remote Nebraska farm, offering up a young girl as a sort of sacrifice to the Cenobites, by having her solve the puzzle box. Once the puzzle is solved, Pinhead, Chatterer, and the Female appear, and tear the woman’s body to pieces with the classic Cenobite hooks and chains technique. Pinhead takes no pleasure in this killing though, and seems almost bored with the doldrums of slaughter. Upon returning to Hell, Pinhead reflects that he has become weary of the sights that Hell has to offer, and that after having mastered every pleasure and pain of the flesh, he needs a new experience. He wishes to become Human, so that he might earn the salvation of Heaven. Leviathan reluctantly agrees to let Pinhead try, but demands that he offer a replacement Cenobite to take his position. Pinhead already has a name in mind… our good friend, Kirsty Cotton!

The story is co-written by Clive Barker himself, along with Christopher Monfette. Monfette is somewhat of a Barker veteran, having previously collaborated with Clive on IDW’s Seduth 3D one-shot comic in 2009, and having also penned the in-development screen adaptations of the Books of Blood stories Down, Satan and Son of Celluloid. Barker and Monfette have put together a plot with an incredibly intriguing premise. Rather than just take the easy route, and knocking together another flimsy excuse for Cenobites to kill some Humans, the pair have actually given the story a great hook - the salvation of Pinhead. Before reading the story, I couldn’t even have conceived of such a prospect, but it really makes sense, in a twisted sort of way! Oh, and Pinhead having to recruit Kirsty as his replacement in the order, is a stroke of genius! This is by far the most original Hellraiser story since the first movie. The Epic comics actually had some pretty good stories, particularly the arc with the Harrowers, but this is operating on a whole different level! I also have to say that kicking off a new Hellriaser series with a story that is set to is set to kill off Pinhead, certainly takes a lot of balls, but I think it’s going to make for a hell of a story, that will either end the series for good, or usher in a new age. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Beyond the plot, Barker and Monfette deliver a great script that is light on exposition, and to the point. The dialogue is really strong, and while making several references to previous Hellraiser stories, the references aren’t so heavy as to make the story inaccessible to new or casual readers. The script has a number of nice touches throughout, one of my favourite of which is when Pinhead removes one of the pins from his skull, and inserts it into the neck of The Female, as a sign of affection. Fantastic stuff!

The artwork for the story is provided by Leonardo Manco, who most readers are probably most familiar with from his lengthy four-year run on Vertigo’s Hellblazer title (what an eerie coincidence). Manco is known for his rather dark and gritty art style, which, as I’m sure you can imagine, is a perfect fit for the Hellraiser franchise. His art works shockingly well on this comic - using intricate linework and rich inking to bring the nightmarish world of the cenobites to life, in jaw dropping fashion! A criticism that I have often seen of Manco’s art in the past is that he sometimes traces photographic references of structures etc. It’s something that I admit that I started to notice in the later issues of his Hellblazer run, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the look. However, I’m pleased to report that he doesn’t seem to be using this technique here, and as a result, this is possibly some of the greatest art that he’s produced in his entire career.

Clive’ Barker’s Hellraiser #1
certainly had a lot to live up to, but I think this comic will please many fans of the movie franchise. Barker and Monfette deliver a brilliant script, which tells the opening salvo of a intriguing story, that is is set to change Hellraiser mythology forever. The comic is everything that I hoped for and more. It’s the Hellraiser story that fans have been waiting over two decades to read! Don’t miss out!


To read a preview of this issue, click here.

To download a free PDF of the Hellraiser prelude, “At the Tolling of a Bell”, click here.

Related posts:

  1. Preview: Clive Barker’s Hellraiser #1
  2. Clive Barker Writes Hellraiser Only at BOOM! Studios!
  3. Free Comic Download: Hellraiser Prelude: “At the Tolling of a Bell”
  4. Clive Barker Showcasing New Art this February, at Bert Green Fine Art in LA
  5. Comics, Graphic Novels, and More Worth Looking Forward to in 2011


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  1. [...] “This is by far the most original HELLRAISER story since the first movie…a hell of a sto… — Hyper Geek [...]

  2. [...] Review: Clive Barker’s Hellraiser #1 by Hypergeek - “Clive Barker has touched Hellraiser only twice: once to write The Hellbound Heart, and once more to write and direct the original Hellraiser film. Now witness Barker’s long-awaited return to tell a new chapter in the series’ official continuity—a trajectory that will forever change the Cenobites… and Pinhead!” [...]

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