“HELLRAISER MASTERPIECES” Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel Review)

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Originally published on Fangoria.com on May 14, 2011

For any horror fan, CLIVE BARKER’S HELLRAISER MASTERPIECES: VOL. 1 (BOOM! Studios) is a definitely must-have. Originally published by Marvel Comics, this collection of short stories keeps the heart racing and never loses a beat. As each story gets better and better, you will undoubtedly have a difficult time putting this comic down. This collection contains a list of fantastic storytellers, including Barker himself, Neil Gaiman (SANDMAN) and Larry Wachowski (THE MATRIX). Likewise, an army of talented artists, namely Mike Mignola (HELLBOY), Dave McKean (MIRRORMASK) and Alex Ross (KINGDOM COME), has also contributed this a worthwhile horror experience.

 Readers expecting the appearance of Pinhead, the master torturer of souls, will be somewhat disappointed. What this collected work does is serve the demonic race of the Cenobites. Fans will learn more about what makes these monstrosities tick. Wachowski’s “Razing Hell: Stolen time (Part One)” supplies that purpose with tremendous style. In the narrative, an author unexpectedly finds his way out of hell. While the writer is locked up in a mental hospital, the Cenobites are tearing through the walls trying to get to him.

Barker kicks up the fast pace and contributes the story “The Harrowing, Part One: Resurrection.” A group of six strangers are reluctantly assembled to fight. These are ordinary citizens who have nothing exciting going on in their lives. Suddenly, they are thrust into a war with hell and must work together in hopes of saving humanity. Thanks to Ross’ artwork, there is a bloody confrontation between the assembled team and the Cenobites that must absolutely be seen!

When you finish reading Barker’s story, Gaiman’s “Wordsworth” will truly leave you unsettled. In this simple tale, a librarian becomes dangerously obsessed with solving a crossword puzzle. As he digs further into his fixation, readers gradually discover this person is trapped in hell. The Cenobites are torturing the librarian with sick glee, enjoying themselves as they hear his screams. As always, the surrealistic artwork by McKean takes the lyrical prose up another notch.

This critic’s favorite in the collection is “Dead Things Rot.” With the plot by Mignola and D.G. Chichester, a serial killer is chopping off the body parts of his victims. With those missing appendages, he is slowly building the body of his own monster. Just as promised, the Cenobite will bring the creature back to life while playing his own game of deception. This is Mignola’s artwork like you’ve never seen before, full of brutal imagery and with a twisted ending! 

Packed with so much disturbing terror, CLIVE BARKER’S HELLRAISER MASTERPIECES: VOL. 1 could have only been brought to readers by the best assembly of writers and artists. New fans will be able to jump right into Barker’s mythology. Then they will want to know more and seek out the HELLRAISER classic. Hardcore followers will surely want to add this comic book to their collection! Once you start reading the first page, you won’t be able to stop yourself. You definitely don’t want to miss out on HELLRAISER MASTERPIECES!