Friday, November 1, 2013

Comic Review: Hellraiser #5 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #5

Fire Trap: A family reunion (of a vastly dysfunctional family) goes to hell when one of the members sets fire to the homestead where it is being held, killing virtually everyone who is in attendance.  The arsonist had hoped to take out his father, a "puzzle guardian", but was unsuccessful.  He summons the Cenobites for help...but they're not really in a helpful mood.  Not a great story, as too much is left unsaid and unexplained.  The artwork seems stiff and undetailed, and the colors all seem somehow off, too--I mean, what kind of firemen wear purple helmets!? All this means that there's not much left here to appreciate, other than a few cool Cenobite shots (Hunger, the absurd Mars Attacks Cenobite, from issue #2 makes a return engagement here), and the concept that a book of riddles is able to open up the door to hell just as easily as the puzzle box.  Many doors, many keys, many paths to damnation.

Glitter and Go: Just like the last story, this one has better concept than it does execution.  Since the beginning of 1990, there have been more than 100 reported cases of "Lemmings", groups of people who congregate on the rooftops of tall buildings, throw sparkly objects into the air, and then leap to their deaths.  One of the Lemmings in question was the older brother of our protagonist here, who is attempting to discover why his brother's body was never found at the crime scene.  As it turns out, each of these buildings were giant puzzle boxes of their own, and the Lemmings whose bodies were not found had correctly solved the puzzle (the proper route to the roof) and ascended to another plane of existence.  This is another example of how to throw open the gates of hell without the use of the puzzle box.  The artwork is nothing special, just your typical 1990s comic book stuff.

Maze of the Mind: We open up on the Cenobite Orno in his workshop in Hell, who is hard at work crafting new pathways to their world.  He alters the mind of a nameless man (in a pretty graphic scene that would be at home in any of the movies), and then sends him back to Earth with only copulation on his mind.  He knocks up a prostitute, who dies during childbirth nine months later.  The baby is put up for adoption, and on his 16th birthday, he receives a mysterious gift in the mail...a puzzle box.  More typical comic book art, and another story that doesn't add much to the mythos--although it was kind of cool to see a Cenobite at work.

Dear Diary: A teenage girl goes to the carnival with a real dream boat, and he wins her a gift at one of the booths--the puzzle box, of course.  She becomes obsessed with solving the puzzle, sacrificing her health, education and social life in order to get inside.  She keeps a careful list in her diary of all of the solutions she has tried in order to maximize her chance of success, but that inadvertently leads to disaster.  This was a better story than the previous entries in this issue, but still a far, far cry from the delicate beauty that the series had been cranking out.  The artwork looks like something out of a Barbie romance comic, but that is surely by design, as this in essence shows what it would be like if the puzzle box landed in one of those teen romance books (the New Kids on the Block even make a cameo).  I thought the layout was rather clever, with the panels sitting atop the pages of the girl's diary, giving us fleeting glimpses of her entries, like we were secretly reading over her shoulder.


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