Friday, November 1, 2013

Comic Review: Hellraiser #4 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #4

Cenobite!: It is a less than subtle title, but the story is a rather subtle exercise. A man named Edward Leverett has spent his whole life being placed in charge of others and forced to maintain order, but when his responsibilities offer him little return, he devotes his life instead to chaos. He opens the puzzle box, hoping to unleash a biblical chaos, and he is given an overview of his life before being turned into a slave of hell. He is all too happy to have to follow orders for once instead of giving them. The artwork is tremendously horrific here, twisted and distorted like our own worst memories, causing me to like this story more than the abbreviated script actually merits.

Like Flies To Wanton Boys: At a Victorian-era party, the puzzle box is brought out and passed around to the partygoers. Only one man manages to solve it, and a short time later, he finds himself imprisoned in endless corridors or darkness illuminated only by the occasional golden door, beyond each of which is only more of the same--seemingly trapped inside a life size puzzle box. The artwork is painted, and it is suitable but nothing spectacular. It is a very text-heavy story, which may turn off some readers, but I thought it was quite good. When our protagonist reaches the final door, the lone sentence fragment "...and found it locked" actually gave me chills.  As far as solitary horrors go, this concept has to be right up there.

To Prepare A Face: Although our "protagonist" here is never explicitly named, it is completely obvious to any genre fan that it is Lon Chaney. In preparing for his latest role, Fagin in the film Oliver Twist, he hits the streets looking for his face...the inspiration that will allow him to enter the head of the character and "become" Fagin. The face he finds isn't metaphorical, though, but rather literal, torn from a murder victim. Wearing it like a mask, his Fagin is a sensation. But his greatest roles are still upcoming, and happenstance won't supply new faces any longer. He'll have to take matters into his own hands.

The artwork is misty and watery, gorgeously rendering the 1920s with authentic pop cultural references in the background and the foreground. I enjoy the blending of fact and fiction, but can't help but wonder if this is disrespectful to Chaney's memory. I hope that he would have enjoyed it, darkly mythological soul that he was. Really, quite fantastic, another one out of the park, and the end, where we see what becomes of Chaney, even ties this story into previous issues. This is how a mythos is crafted, people!


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