I enjoyed the first issue of Boom! Studios’ new “Hellraiser” comic, but looking back at it, there was certainly a lot of setup as Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette laid out the groundwork for what was to come. It’s nice, then, to see with this new issue that setup is now over and we’re already seeing a rapid acceleration of the major storyline.
Most of “Hellraiser” #2 lets us see how Kristy and the rest of her Harrowers are discovering and destroying the various LeMarchand devices that open gateways to Hell. It’s nice to see that Kristy and company are hardly stupid; when the device known as the Carousel appears practically on their front door (instead of halfway around the world), they’re instantly wary. So often characters in horror stories (no matter what the particular media) seem to miss the most obvious things in front of them, and if this team of demonic-device-destroyers acted that way, it would be hard to swallow that they’d survived for so long.
As for the Carousel itself, Barker, Monfette, and Leonardo Manco make the Cenobite demons that it summons particularly creepy and gruesome. For a device that opens a gateway straight to Hell, all three creators recognize that this can’t just be an everyday monster that pops up. (After all, this is the same mythology that brought us Pinhead.) And when we get the glimpses of all of the other pieces of LeMarchand devices that Kristy’s encountered over the years, it’s a fun little “untold story” moment, the sort that makes me wish that “Hellraiser” will at some point backtrack and give us the story for each of those devices.
The one weak point with this issue is the actual fight scene against the demons. Up until that point, Manco’s art was beautiful; very carefully rendered, and full of thin, crisp lines. In the fight itself, though, it looks much more rough and messy than the rest of the issue. It’s not bad, per se, but I’m used to seeing Manco’s art look more clean. Characters look less distinct from one another, and it’s not the handsome reading experience that you get elsewhere in the comic.
Overall, it’s good to see “Hellraiser” already on a strong path in just its second issue. With the final pages preparing the next chapter to hit the ground running-just like this one did-it’s a perfect hook to make readers want to buy issue #3. “Hellraiser” is definitely my kind of horror comic. I’ll be back for more.