“HELLRAISER” #3 (Comic Review)

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Orginally published at Fangoria.com on July 16, 2011

Frighteningly intense and visually disturbing, HELLRAISER #3 (BOOM! Studios) will grab your full attention right from the first page. Pinhead’s diabolical plans are about to get bloodier as he continues to wreck havoc against Kirsty Cotton. Bravery and insanity collide as Kirsty’s group of Harrowers takes on Pinhead’s army of Cenobites. In the right hands of its original creator, Clive Barker builds the franchise’s mythology with many new and distinct characters.

The iconic killer, Pinhead, has come up with a devious plan to claw his way free from hell. Weary but eagerly anxious, Pinhead is playing a deadly game of chess against the only person who has defeated him, Kirsty Cotton. Wanting solely revenge, Kirsty has already been devising her own strategy and making her own decisive moves. Kirsty and her Harrowers have been hunting each puzzle box, one by one, and destroying them.

Hell’s Harrowers are a roundup of lost souls who have witnessed their share of Cenobites. Father Marcus Aimes lost his faith after the sudden arrival of a demonic Cenobite in his church. Even while drowning himself in alcohol, Aimes can never get rid of the horrifying images in his head. He reluctantly joins Kirsty in her violent crusade as a way to reclaim his life again.

Vengeance has become an absolute motivator for Kirsty, who has gone to hell and escaped from Pinhead’s clutches unharmed. Because they have never forgotten each other, Pinhead and Kirsty share a unique but lethal bond. Is she leading her group toward redemption or to their deaths against the Cenobites? The stakes are higher for Kirsty as Pinhead targets someone she truly loves.

Barker and co-writer Christopher Monfette (SEDUTH 3D) provide a mini-flashback episode to each member of Kirsty’s Harrowers. The authors develop great characterization in just a few pages. In an emotionally gripping short tale, Bethany Howard’s dance with hell ends with her losing her baby. For longtime fans, Tiffany, from HELLRAISER II: HELLBOUND, is mentioned in dialogue but never actually seen. The authors are slowly expanding the mythology with new individuals, while revisiting past characters.

The artwork by Stephen Thompson is stylishly realistic and visually captivating at certain times. The highlight of the issue is Father Aimes’ encounter with the Cenobite. In a great use of colors by Jordie Bellaire, snow is falling inside the church, washing away the yellow tones. Never shying away from the gore, your jaw will drop as you watch Pinhead throw his chains through a man’s forehead!

Made with such ambition and epic effort, horror fans should be buying HELLRAISER #3 right away! Like calculating chess players, Pinhead and Kirsty are setting their pieces into place. Though this comic is for new readers, previous characters are slowly returning to the mythology for HELLRAISER buffs! Don’t miss out on the terrifying sights that Pinhead has to show you!