Review: Clive Barker’s Hellraiser vol. 1

Clive Barker's Hellraiser Volume 1How did I get it: The library.

Why did I read it:  I’m a fan of anything published by Boom! Studios and I was really curious to see what this graphic novel would be like.

How I would rate it: 4 out of 5 stars.


Clive Barker has “touched” Hellraiser only twice before: once to write The Hellbound Heart, and once more to write and direct the original Hellraiser film. With the HELLRAISER ongoing series, witness Barker’s long-awaited return to tell a new chapter in the official continuity — a trajectory that will forever change the Cenobites…and Pinhead! So prepare your soul for an epic journey into horror from one of the medium’s greatest voices, and starring one of the medium’s greatest characters, in an unforgettable new chapter of Hellraiser.

Review: I am endlessly impressed by the scope of Clive Barker’s vision and I’m so happy to report that this graphic novel was really, really excellent. In fact, this is probably the best Hellraiser-related anything I’ve ever read or seen. Of course I realize that might not read as high praise considering some of the more recent films or anthologies regarding the Cenobites and their leader, but Barker’s lack of involvement goes a long to explain why most of them are so absolutely horrendous. In terms of Barker’s third contribution, the graphic novel format captured the absolute horror behind what these monsters do to people and really added some emotional heft to the experience.

What surprised me in a really good way is that there’s a real story here just as there was in the original novella and movie adaptation. There was also a lot of forward momentum and curious introspective moments since Pinhead has begun to seek out ways to break free of his current infernal position. It was great to have Pinhead play a pivotal role and be the focus rather than merely offering up an eerie cameo or two. There seemed to even be a side to Pinhead that reminds me a bit of Christopher Carrion from the Abarat series. Both, of course, are twisted and evil in many respects, but their desire to mean more is really compelling. Kristy Cotton also plays a pretty cool role as did other Cenobites and other humans as well. I really liked the sections of back story that showed how other people have joined up to try to stop the Cenobites by gathering up and ultimately destroying the objects they use to cross over. Over all it’ll be interesting to see what comes of it. I’m holding out hope that it won’t be anything too predictable.

Reader beware, however. This is not for the weak of heart and I have to admit that after I was done I sort of wanted to go hug kittens for a few hours. That said… Was there some disturbing violence? For sure. Did it seem to be ridiculously gratuitous? No and I’d even be willing to say that behind most of the disgusting deaths there was some sort of purpose. Nothing is ever going to sell me on there being anything all that sexy or enjoyable about having creepy pale leather-wearing abominations rip a person apart with magic hooks and chains, but that’s sort of the nature of the beast when it comes to anything Hellraiser

Besides, I’ve always felt that there was a a world of difference what Barker is doing with his concept and what others have done to his concept. I get the impression that Barker is using Cenobites to trying and go deeper to explore what darkness/pain/Hell is and the way such things manifest in the physical world. Others who have come after him seem to just use Cenobites as overly creepy closet monsters with a leather fetish who are way too into solving puzzle boxes. There are still elements of that in the graphic novel, but there’s significantly more substance to Barker’s vision to go along with it.

In conclusion, really dark and really enjoyable. It probably would help to understand what the Hellraiser saga entails, but readers might actually enjoy this more the less familar they are with the more recent sequels or other graphic novel collections. Personally, I can’t wait for volume 2!

About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
This entry was posted in 2011 Reading Challenge, Graphic Novel, Review and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Review: Clive Barker’s Hellraiser vol. 1

  1. Pingback: On My Wishlist #39 | CSI: Librarian

  2. Pingback: Best Reads of 2011 – Graphic Novels and Manga | CSI: Librarian

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