Regular readers (hi all several of you!) might see that I am pretty into horror. Not just games, manga and comics, but I love horror films as well. In the 80's my favourite was Hellraiser and its first sequel Hellraiser II: Hellbound. The mythology around the films are complex, but revolve around magic puzzle boxes that when solved open a gateway to a dimension where pleasure and pain are both explored beyong normal human limits. The high priests of this place are the Cenobites. The most well know and iconic leader of the bunch is one nicknamed "Pinhead" due to the fact his make-up sees Doug Bradley's face covered in nails. In the first film we meet Kirsty, a young American woman who moves to her uncles old house with her dad and wicked stepmother Julia. Having solved the box, uncle Frank is in Hell but using blood and the desire the stepmother has for him, she helps bring him to life whereon he kills his brother (Kirsty's dad) and takes his skin. But Kirsty using some fast talking after having solved the box, has the Cenobites take Uncle Frank back and as we fnd out in the sequel Kirsty ends up in an insane asylum where she befriends a mute girl called Tiffany who is being used to open another puzzle box and ends up battling the resurrected Julia and the transformed head of the asylum Doctor Channard, between them they cause the Cenobites to be briefly turned human again before being killed, Channard is defeated and Tiffany and Kirsty escape from Hell's Labyrinth and leave the asylum together.
This comics appears to be a sequel of sorts to a previous Hellraiser series I can't find much details on. Going by what I learned reading this, Kirsty became a Cenobite too (and if you take the Direct-to-Video sequel Hellseeker as canon she certainly became Cenobite material in that one sacrificing her cheating husband's lovers to save herself) and with the humanised Pinhead aka: Elliot Spencer, sought to revolt against the Leviathan (depicted in Hellbound and this comic as a giant diamond that hovers over the Cenobite dimension). Meanwhile Tiffany (now able to talk) is part of a group, created by a man who has disappeared, devoted to finding the puzzle boxes and keeping them out of unsuspecting hands. Phew, that's more backstory than usual, and the comics doesn't make many concessions to readers who aren't familiar with the films, but why would you be reading the comic if you weren't? Onward with the story then!
|Solving the puzzle box.|
Then he is greeted by a lone Ceneobite, a female one from the first two films known affectionately by fans as "throat vagina lady". I... I'll stick to calling her Female Cenobite I think. She asks why he would walk into Hell with open eyes.
Female Cenobite: "You know of our order. And of our devotions. And yet, you came of your own free will."
She sounds surprised, but that's kind of what the theme of the first two fil... you know I'll stop nitpicking based on the films. Call this an alternate reality and we can get on with this without me stopping every page to go, "ummmm actually."
|The Female Cenobite.|
Female Cenobite says she is aware of his sins and also that the Damned are restless following recent events. She tells the theologian that his fate is not in the pit, his lies elsewhere. They pass a pile of globes and Female Cenobite explains that torture is not just of the body, but of the mind as well. Inside one of the balls are imprisoned former Pinhead Elliot Spencer and his former nemesis cum fellow High Priest Kirsty Cotton, destined to live out repeating violent fates. Kirsty notices the theologian peering in and briefly seems to realise she is trapped in a repeating loop. The theologian asks if they are in there, who is ruling hell? And why is he getting a guided tour from a "Cenobite as my Virgil" not learning at the end of a hook?
|Leviathan hanging over the Labyrinth.|
Female Cenobite: "You see Hell is - what are your words? - 'Under new management'".
Then Hell's new high priest Pinhead mk.II who also has a strange oversized eye, shows up on a flayed horse. The theologian identifies him as Harry D'Amour, "Private detective turned exorcist turned Lord of Hell. That's quite the career path Harry." Harry in turn recognises the theologian as "Marchetti" and immediately identifies him as an assassin and calls on his Cenobites to protect him and demands to know why Female Cenobite bought him this far.
|Harry D'Amour, Hells new High Priest.|
Marchetti: "A- A gun? The entirety of Hell's power at your fingertips and you still won't part with your tiny pistol?"
Harry: "It gets the job done. How about we get this over with so I can get back to my work?"
She flings out the iconic chains into Marchetti, causing him to drop the knife. As Marchetti is pulled into an iron maiden for the start of his torture he desperately tells Harry to ask himself why he was made High Priest of Hell, and that the Leviathan is playing... and he gets cut off. "Finally. I thought he'd never shut up" snarks Harry.
Then Marchetti is regurgitated, his personality subsumed to join the ranks of the damned. The Female Cenobite has a question though:
Female Cenobite: "The uprising that Captain Spencer caused among the damned souls has been quelled. So then... what is this new army for?"
The action then moves back onto the mortal plain. The hobo who supplies pleasure/pain seekers with puzzle boxes is reclaiming Marchetti's when a young woman and a three men tell him to put the box down. The woman is Tiffany from Hellbound, now much more talkative. She offers to buy the box, but "one way or another we can't let you leave here with that". The she brandishes a gun, the hobo says nothing but suddenly transforms into a huge skeletal demon thing. "Shit" is all she can say at this turn of events.
|Tiffany is attacked by an Eremite.|
The four of them work for Harry D'Amour who got them all together when all they have in common is hell. Harry is "missing: presumed damned" as far as she knows She and her team are working out of his office and the argument over her killing a man is interupted by a phonecall from a psychic who can tell when people are using the boxes and she steers them to where Marchetti opened his. Which brings us back into the present and the attack by the skeleton demon.
She has no idea who to kill the thing and it shrugs off bullets, gutting one of the men in the process. She draws it away from the other two by using the box as bait. She is cornered and quickly solves the puzzle which opens the Hell gate. She dives through and quickly solves it again shutting the gate on the neck of the demon and killing it. Downside, she is now in hell and Harry comes to greet her.
Harry: "I knew you were a badass. But I wouldn't have laid money on you beating an Eremite".
Tiffany recognises him and he says he has to stop meeting his Facebook friends like this. He asks how she expects to get back, Kirsty and Elliot can't help her now. She says she'll figure something out and what's an "Eremite?"
|Harry greets Tiffany in Hell.|
He gives her a special puzzle she can contact with him and says she can trust him then sends her back. Back on Earth, Tiffany contemplates the puzzle and berates herself for giving in. But she needs to find Kirsty somehow and this is all she can think to do, "..why do I feel like Eve with the apple? Oh Kirsty, where are you?" And this chapter finishes with Kirsty being woken up by Elliot bringing her breakfast in bed, they kiss and profess their love for each other.
|Kirsty and Elliot being mind screwed.|
Kirsty: "...this isn't how it happened! This- this isn't real! We've done this before..!"
The Marchetti disappears. Elliot realises they are trapped in a mind prison. He tells Kirsty hell isn't all hooks chains, "sometimes hell's most eloquent tortures require that the victim not realise he is in hell".
He wonders why, that although they are in a mind prison, they aren't being tortured. Kirsty says it must be the mysterious white-clad man who she says is Leviathan. Elliot says it can't be, why would the Lord of the Labyrinth be "dressed as a milkman". Leviathan then says "Next". And we return to the scene of Elliot and Kirsty celebrating their anniversary. Then Kirsty rejects Elliot's kisses yelling that their surroundings have changed and this isn't real, and Leviathan says "Next" again.
|Leviathan exerts it's power over their mental landscape.|
He taunts her and she says he's cost her everyone she ever cared about in her life and attacks him. He tosses her to one side saying even with all the power of hell she has, he has more from his "benefactor". He then inflicts a gut wound on her and she runs from him. She bumps into the Leviathan/Milkman and asks him to reset things "this is one scenario I'm not going to miss". Leviathan just smiles.
She realises that Leviathan wants Elliot to kill her and as Eliot stalks her she tries to reason with him. She says Leviathan wants something which is why he is making them act out scenarios and relive their memories. Why would that be?
Elliot: "Because he's a perverted god who likes to fuck with mortals?"
He is still intent on killing her, but she tells him to think about why the Leviathan let him become human again and seek salvation, it had reasons of it's own for allowing it. Apparently Eliot/Pinhead went and sought power from something else after that and that "benefactor" also had reasons of its own. Elliot has been used.
Elliot finally stops trying to kill her and asks what they should do. Kirsty says she's a Cenobite and Elliot is whatever he is now and between them they wield massive amounts of power if they work together they could get out. Elliot muses that by fighting they are giving Leviathan exactly what it wants. Then he punches Kirsty saying "it is awfully fun".
Finally though he agrees to work with her to escape. They hold hands and calls a truce, for now. They exert their combined power but nothing happens, then Leviathan appears and says "Next" and they are back in the anniversay scenario. Outside the globe, Harry watches them pensively.
|Harry wonders why they have been imprisoned like this.|
He's still bothered by what Marchetti said before he was Cenobited, why would the Leviathan choose Harry? He's just a puppet. This statement "cuts me like a razor" thinks Harry. As he mulls over this he registers the Female Cenobite also has a question, just what is this Cenobite army for she asks. Then Tiffany puts in her appearance, he restates what we learned about their relationship from her perspective and then he sends her back.
Her question about what happened to Kirsty, his predecessor as a Priest of Hell also bothers him, he knows she and Eliot are locked in the memory sphere but doesn't know why. Did she fail? Does Eliot need a jailer? With Leviathan you are always seeing only one part of a larger plan.
|Harry tries to break Marchetts' conditioning.|
He wanders through the The Pit thinking things over, when one of them attempts to kill him, although they are cowed by the failure of their rebellion, some of them still have a hate for the "Cenobite oppressors!" Almost idly, Harry restrains the man with barbed wire chains and keeps on walking until he finds a castle he didn't know existed.
The guard on the gate says it is forbidden to go inside, especially for Harry. Harry tries to go past and the guard attacks, but Harry uses Marchetti's crucifix to kill the guard and enters the forbidding structure. Inside is a monster made of many bodies melded together and with three upper torso's wielding weaponry. "That's new" says a surprised Harry.
|Mutant hellbeast gaurding something.|
With only one desperate gamble left, Harry asks the being if they remember who they were when they were human. In great distress the beings various heads recall their previous lives and in horror at what they are now they tear themselves apart. They walk through the castle and arrive at the Labyrinth with Leviathan hovering over it and see something we aren't shown yet..
Harry says this has left him a lot to think about. He wonders about the Female Cenobite's allegiance to him. He ruminates that Elliot's insurrection started with him tearing a hole between hell and earth. And now he is standing in front of the hole, this is what the monster was guarding.
Harry: "It's all clear now. The new army - it's an invasion force. Hell is going to invade earth! It's the final battle. The end of days. Hell's army comes to earth... and I'm supposed to lead it."
|The hole to Earth is still intact, bad luck Earth.|