Originally published at Bloody Disgusting on November 8th, 2012
Hellraiser: The Road Below #1 is highly recommended to readers, especially to fans of Clive Barker’s famous creation. With the spotlight on Kirsty Cotton as the new Pinhead, the series takes on an entirely new and different approach. Full of creative ideas, Brandon Seifert and Haemi Jang show readers that there is still life within the “Hellraiser” franchise without Elliot Spencer in the title role. Readers should expect plenty of scares and clever plot twists with this issue. WRITTEN BY: Brandon Seifert ART BY: Haemi Jang PUBLISHER: Boom! Studios PRICE: $3.99 RELEASE: November 7th, 2012
Seeking revenge after his last defeat, Pinhead manipulated Kirsty Cotton into taking his place at Hell’s throne. In order to escape from Hell, Pinhead needed a replacement to serve in his place. Hoping to save her friends and family, Kirsty sacrificed herself and took over the role inhabited by Captain Elliot Spencer. With Spencer gone and free, Kirsty now reigns in Hell as the Cenobites’ new Priestess. Outside the realm of Hell, a young mother discovers a killer is on the hunt for her daughter. Whose side will Kirsty choose, the helpless mother or the vicious killer?
With the focus on Kirsty, Seifert takes the “Hellraiser” mythology to a whole new level. In Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser ” issue #13, Kirsty has already served her role for some time, but readers never found out what actually happened in-between. Seifert develops a new tale that examines that missing gap of Kirsty’s life as the new Pinhead. Just like Spencer, Kirsty bases her decisions from her lost humanity. There is an awkwardness and confusion about what she is supposed to do in Hell, which is an interesting metaphor for “your first day on the new job.”
The injection of black humor is quite surprising and stands out if you have seen the previous “Hellraiser” sequels. This isn’t laugh-out loud humor, nor is it slapstick horror comedy. Seifert’s dry humor comes from the characters, as seen in the confrontation between Rhea and Kirsty. Evenly matched, Rhea and Kirsty share feisty attitudes as they won’t back down from a fight. Because she doesn’t have the cold and world-weariness demeanor of Spencer, Kirsty isn’t going to say and do things like her predecessor. Kirsty is till this pure and good soul, who just happens to be trapped in Hell.
Jang centers his illustrations on the mother/daughter relationship between Rhea and Cordele. There is so much detail to their facial features and hairstyles. Readers can tell Rhea and Cordele look like they’re actually related. In the opening pages, Jang reveals how Kirsty is uncomfortable in her new body, as she touches the pins around her face. Jang foreshadows to readers the consequences of Kirsty’s good-hearted intentions and what Hell is going to become.
Jang ‘s illustrations contain some nasty moments. In the climax, Rhea cuts off the arm of a monstrous killer with a sharp knife. The chopped arm drops to the ground while a new one is regenerating. Jang puts in immense detail to distinguish the old and new arm.
A perfect jumping-point for new readers, “Hellraiser: The Road Below #1″ puts tremendous effort into setting up the characters and their motivations. Seifert and Jang pull off what the substandard sequels failed to do. They have successfully put in fresh and new ideas into the already established “Hellraiser” franchise. Rating: 4/5 skulls
Reviewed by Jorge Solis