Publisher: Epic Comics
Release Date: 03/1989-01/1993
While Hellraiser was an extremely successful horror film in the 80s and became a cult classic. Clive Barker is a fantastic horror author/creator and the comic series does the Hellraiser name justice. However, I have never read a comic series that slowly started imploding on itself after starting out so great and actually become boring and monotonous to read.
Each comic is cut into 3-4 mini-stories relating to the universe of Hellraiser. Someone finds a Lemarchand cube or a Lament Configuration. This mysterious puzzle box is a gateway to hell and one of the Leviathan’s many generals known as Cenobites must take you with them. The comic series really digs deep into the human psyche and brings out all of humanity’s flaws such as greed, lust, gluttony, and all the evil and hatred that our species is known for. Each story is fantastic and really draws you in, but it’s after issue 10 or 11 that the series really starts taking a dive.
I also love art. Each mini-story is done by a different team so you see all kinds of different art styles. While not all of it is fantastic it sets the tone and atmosphere of each story. Now, here is where the series fails: story arcs. Trying to do something with the comic series that it never really did. There are two different story arcs playing out here and they take several issues to finish. The first is the Devil’s Brigade which is a drawn-out and exhausting 18 part series that see several Cenobites that are assigned to key figures on Earth and they must make sure order befalls man and not chaos. This is such a jarring and disorienting story. The characters are boring, the story mostly never makes sense, and it just feels so forced. After a while that’s all the entire Hellraiser series is about. No more unique mini-stories that stand out on their own.
The second story arch is The Harrowers. This is even worse than the Devil’s Brigade and feels so far-fetched that just becomes silly. Several men and women are “called” to a hidden tomb where a goddess lives and is somehow the good sister of Leviathan. This is absurd and completely ridiculous. At this point, you can tell the Hellraiser team just wants it to end and doesn’t care anymore. 20 issues and the series just took a complete nose dive right on its face.
With that said the series is still worth reading especially the first 10 issues. They keep you drawn in and are just so fantastic that I needed more.