Monday, 12 September 2016

Hellraiser The Dark Watch Book 2 (#5-8)

"Oh hello everyone.  I hope this is just an intervention" - Harry D'Amour

Have reviewed my last post on the first volume of this storyline I didn't make it obvious that Clive Barker is credited as co-writer.  He created the Cenobites in a book called The Hellbound Heart which was then roughly used to make the first Hellraiser film which he directed as well, he didn't write Hellraiser II which introduced the vision of Hell ruled over by the mysterious diamond shaped entity, the "Leviathan" but it appears to have had its blessing considering it's an integral part of these comics.  Unfortunately this minseries directly follows a prior out-of-print one, which gave us original series heroine Kirsty Cotton as a High Priestess of Hell along with original "Pinhead" Elliott Spencer.  They are now confined to a small globe, acting out memories over and over.  The new High Priest of Hell is an ex-private investigator called Harry D'Amour who got his own paranormal team together including Tiffany, the girl Kirsty saved in the second film.  Somehow he has ended up the "Pontifex" and has discovered that the Hell he manages is planning to invade the mortal realm.  He's already recruited Tiffany to his cause, though one of her team was lost in a tangle with an "Eremite" and now he has his own plans in motion while fending off assassination attempts from the human realm and, as we find out in this collection, from the Other Hells.  So lets crack on.

We begin with Rajeev, Tiffany's group's member who died in volume one being resurrected by an Eremite.  Lacking in skin, the Eremite orders Rajeev to solve the puzzle box which summons Harry who restores his skin and tells him he has a job for him to do.
Harry recruits Rajeev.
Meanwhile Tiffany's group is staking out "The Children of Lost Salvation" on Harry's orders. The Children appear to be demonic, but nothing like Cenobites.  When she reports this to Harry he reveals that there is more than one Hell.

Harry: "...Or one with a bunch of circles, or whatever.  Don't ask me for specifics, we're along way from Sunday School".

We then cut to later on as one of the men in the group is aghast that Harry ordered them to stand down and he'll take care of them.  They debate if he can be trusted, if he is the same Harry they knew before he became Hell's pope.

That night the Children of Lost Salvation are having a ceremony.  Amongst their numbers is Rajeev. He opens the puzzle box and summons many Cenobites led by the female one.  But there is a catch, Tiffany and Co. have drawn the "Glyph of the Solutent" which strips them of invulnerability.
Lets you and he fight.
The Cenobites and the transformed Children fight.  Tiffany says to kill them all and they'll sort things out later.   Then one of them spots Rajeev and realises he's been bought back to serve the Cenobites.  Rajeev says he was to open the box and summon the Cenobites in the war between them and the other hells.  Then the leader of the Children snatches the box and makes his escape. He closes the box and the Cenobites depart.  Tiffany says Harry has gone too far and holding the mystical knife that she acquired in the fight says "It's time... we take care of D'Amour".

Later the leader of the Children reopens the box summoning the Cenobites but this time they are ready for them.  They fight and the female Cenobite escapes back through the Hell portal to get reinforcements.  Harry is giving a somewhat unethusiastic speech to the gathered hordes when the female Cenobite arrives and tells him, "demons from another Hell have defiled our Lord's halls".

Thankful for the interruption, Harry follows her back to where the Children are.  He recognises the leader as "Butterfield".  He and Harry crossed paths in the past and Butterfield wants revenge.  Harry realises they have "talismans", ie: crosses to protect them from Hell's attacks.  But he has one as well, meaning they are at an impasse.
Harry D'Amour and his trusty firearm.
Except they aren't as Harry still has his pistol and he shoots a chunk out of Butterfield with it.  But Butterfield says bullets can't kill him, "can't blame me for trying" says Harry.   Before things can escalate Harry is yanked away, summoned by the special box he gave Tiffany.  Butterfield dispatches the "Reparee" to go look for him saying the only threat is D'Amour.

Tiffany and Co. say they want some answers from Harry, no "bullshit".  He says it's a bad time and tries to leave but he is stuck in a summoning circle.  "Your timing is awful" he says and we return to the battle between the rest of the Cenobites and the Children.  As they fight, Butterfield gazes upon the Leviathan saying "the objective is in sight."

Somewhat under duress, Harry tells them he resurrected Rajeev to bring Cenobites into the world so they could kill demons.  Utilising the Cenobites thusly "seemed like a good idea at the time".  Irritated that they won't set him free he fires his gun at them though Tiffany pushes his target out of the way and she shoots him in the torso.

Harry: "Everyone gives me shit about the gun.  You have no idea how often it comes in handy".

Rajeev appeals to him wanting to know why he made him a monster.  Harry says he didn't want to see him undergo an eternity of damnation.  Then suddenly something starts forcing the half open portal to Hell open and urgently Harry says they need to set him free, "or we're all dead."
Harry does some fast talking.
The Raparee comes crashing in, Harry describes it as a one of those "walking demon tanks". Tiffany's gang refuse to let him out of the circle, Harry says at least erase the glyph that takes away his ability to be harmed and killed.  Then he recalls he has the crucifix he can use for protection.

Theo, of the human contingent attacks the Raparee with a knife, but it swats him to one side. Harry tosses him the cross to protect himself with, but then the Raparee's attention is drawn to him. "oh.. shit" he says.  The Raparee gets trapped in the binding circle as well. Theo goes to erase it, but Harry just tells him to rub out the glyph.  Using petrol and a match, another of Tiffany's group, Norton, burns the Raparee up.
Defeating the Reparee.
Theo has a bit of a crisis, saying he is a pickpocket so why is he fighting demons from hell?  Harry says that the demons from another Hell are assaulting the Cenobite realm and have talismans of their own to protect them.  He needs their help.  Tiffany agrees on one condition.

Which we don't hear because the action cuts to the conflict in the Cenobite Hell.  They are having to fall back because they can't attack the invaders.  The invading demons are moving the bodies of the Cenobite dead around, at first they can't figure out why, then the female Cenobite realises they are marking out a massive Glyph of the Solutent around Leviathan.

Harry confirms to Tiffany's group that the invaders want to assassinate Leviathan. Norton says they have talismans, a demon killing knife and a Cenobite army, lets use them tactically. They assault the leaders of the Children and take them out bar Butterfield who grabs Theo and holds a knife to his throat saying he wants escorting back to the escape portal.
Butterfield tries to escape.
Tiffany calls him a "motherfucker" but Butterfield tells her that Harry has Kirsty - her surrogate mother - locked away in a prison with Elliott.  When she asks Harry if this is true, he evades the question by saying "can we not do this now?"  Theo manages to slip Butterfield's crucifix out of his pocket which removes his protection.

Butterfield's other arm gets ripped off and Harry says he will kill him after "lots of torture."  Tiffany's group make their way back to the mortal world, but Tiffany is deep in thought as the others debate the helping of one Hell against another.  The others go through the portal and then Tiffany, using the puzzle box, shuts it with herself still in Hell.

Tiffany: "Kirsty... I'm going to get you out of here."

Butterfield is being tortured by Cenobites who want to know why he was sent to kill Harry.  Butterfield doesn't seem too bothered and grins that "I know something you don't."  Then Tiffany appears from behind and using the mystic knife, kills Butterfield's tormenters.   She asks him where Kirsty he is, he'll say he isn't going to tell her, but he will show her.  So she frees him after her threats to torture it out of him has him laughing in her face.
Tiffany breaks Butterfield out.
She frees him and they leave.  Not long after, Harry arrives at where he was being kept and asks how Butterfield could have got free.  The female Cenobite says Tiffany has been spotted in the maze.  Alarmed Harry says she'll fuck things up for everyone if she isn't stopped.

As Tiffany and Butterfield make their way through the labyrinth, he transforms into a worm like being saying he'll need a new form for the fight to come.  They arrive at the room where all the memory globe prisons are being kept.  She peeks inside Kirsty and Elliott's and they are currently enacting a memory of Elliott's.

Tiffany appears to them both and they recognise her.  She and Kirsty run  from Elliott.  Kirsty tells Tiffany that Elliott's powers now come from another Hell.  Tiffany tries to keep him at bay with the demon killing knife, but it doesn't work in the mind prison.  He then slashes Tiffany's throat with it and Kirsty yells that she is going to kill him.  He then puts his hands round Kirsty's throat and says he'll kill her, she says fine go ahead.

And suddenly the three of them are out of the mind prison and back in Cenobite hell.  Kirsty says she spent all that time trying to break out, "when all I needed to do was give up".  And she hugs Tiffany.  Harry arrives on the scene and Tiffany angrily asks why he didn't tell her where he was holding Kirsty all this time.

He says he didn't tell her because he knew he would try and rescue her and "because of what might happen if you succeeded."  A huge hole opens in the floor and Elliott collapses in pain.  Then he arises, transformed into some hellish new type of demon as Harry says "I did tell you".
Elliott and Kirsty are free, but at what cost?
And with that this volume ends.  The book crams in a lot of interesting stuff by introducing the idea of different hells and their servants at war with each other.  Harry is stuck playing the Only Sane Man to the madness going on around him.  His assaults against the servants of the other hells by strategic puzzle box usage is pretty clever.  If I have one complaint it's almost too much being thrown in at once, which might flow better if the artist Tom Garcia wasn't so depressingly average.  With the opportunity to draw hell vistas we get instead some generic red backgrounds and that's it.  Rescuing Kirsty is a little perfuctory as well, although it's given us the prospect of the powered up demonic Elliott as the new antagonist.  The script in general is the highlight of the book, I don't know how much involvement Clive Barker has with the finished product (he's credited as co-writer with Brandon Seifert), but it's snappy and imaginative and deserving of a far better artistic vision to envisage it.  Nevermind, look out for book three which I shall most likely be covering sometime soon.


  1. Ah Clive Barker. I had a brief flirtation with his work after Hellraiser came out. I enjoyed Books of Blood and Weaveworld, there was something quite intriguing about horror set in a very familiar British* urban environment.

    *The British aspect was important, not just for parochial reasons, but there was something pleasantly surreal about a horror story being set in say Birmingham or on a council estate. That juxtaposition of the familiar and the extraordinary is commonplace now, but at the time it was very novel, and it made it much easier to identify with and therefore feel invested in the characters.

    As to Helleaoers itself, I can only recall seeing the first film. I didn't really follow after that. I did remember though reading one story (can't recall if prose or comic) in an anthology of short tales set in the coenobite world. It was about a foetus that had other miscarried or been aborted and how the cenobites took care of it. I remember at the time to was just so cute and, in a bizarre way, rather heartwarming. It was about the only story where the cenobites were clearly the good guys as opposed to anti-heroes.

    (Thinking about it now I wonder if there was any political sub-text. Never occurred to me at the time, but I suppose there are all sorts of implications in there)

  2. There's actually been NINE Hellraiser films though for the purposes of this comic only the first two and broad strokes of the third count. Being a horror fan I own all bar the last one on dvd, the most recent one was a terrible ashcan film that drove Barker into a hilarious twitter meltdown. Not good.

    The first film is one of my favourite horror films ever, and still has an uneasy power to chill even to this day, like you said the juxtaposition between the normal family life and its destruction by a horrific interloper is powerful stuff.

  3. this is probably more a thing for fans of the series, than casual readers I guess. still amazed there has been nine films in the series though!

  4. It's definitely full of fan service that is most likely lost on a non-fan I agree. Still it is well written, just wish the art was better then it might have wider appeal...

  5. I thought fan service was girls in comics "showing their next week's washing"

    (As an old flame rather adoringly put it)

  6. Fan service is a term that's expanded a bit. I think it's justa politer term than one that was in use about ten years ago - "fan wank" ie: lots of stuff for fans to "get off" on. Of course it does still mean stuff for the gents and the ladeez too, I guess it's a context thing. I like that term of your old flame though, I was watching Weird Science earlier today and Kelly Le Brock in her undies was sending me to my happy place.

  7. Ah, how we got our thrills before the internet; kids today don't know they're born.

    I feel sorry for them though, they'll never understand the frisson of 30 seconds of Cleo Rocos as Miss Whiplash on Kenny Everett.

  8. Those were the days, when you might catch a glimpse of a bare boob in a PG rated film if you were lucky. Of course to get back on topic, the sex n'death mash-up of the first Hellraiser film really blew the teenage me's mind. I actually did a seminar presentation on The Hellbound Heart and Hellraiser for one of my Women's Studies MA modules too.

  9. Once I'd got over the initial confusion ("Hang on, I thought he died in the first reel") I very much enjoyed it too. It tallied with certain philosophies some (very close) friends and I shared. No one got torn to pieces though I'm glad to report.

    Also we didn't have a lament configuration, so we had to make do with a rubik cube.

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  11. Oops, double post. Has anyone ever done "Heck Raiser"? I'm thinking of doing a more Yorkshire version.

  12. "We have such delights to show you"

    "Are they free?"

  13. I must say having watch all nine films, I amazed at how easy the Lament Configuration is to solve, just a couple of clicks and a quick swirly of the thumb on the circle and before you know it you have chains attached to your nipples. Honestly the major hassle seems to be lighting all the candles you sit cross-legged in the midst of.

    I like the idea of Heck-Raiser. Instead of S&M demons, you get a couple of kindly old folk who offer you tea and biscuits.

    As far as I can see, you pay in blood for your delights, although once the sex part had been pruned away from the text they become just common demons which the comic seems to have gone with. I miss the pervy stuff :D

  14. I've spent the last half hour trying to work the word 'macaroon' into a horror context. I'll keep at it.

    But yeah I liked the pleasure/pain proto S&M aspects of Hellraiser. It was its USP and I'm sad that it's now just another generic demon series. And I love pervy. Before dragons became fashionable I messed around with a pitch to 2000AD as they'd started an interesting dragon story. It featured a girl getting an impromptu 'trim' when her dragon boyfriend sneezed at an inopportune moment. (It was cute though, they had adventures together)

  15. Macaroons are evil enough on their own!

    There's going to be another Hellraiser film this year or next, not sure. To be honest it doesn't look great, but I am intrigued by the fact it's going to have Heather Lagenkamp, best know for being Nancy in various Nightmare On Elm Street films in it.

    I love dragons, I have four dragon tattoos decorating my upper arms, not sure I'd want to sleep with one though, as you say a cough or a sneeze could result in some seriously unsexy scorching!

  16. Presumably every "girl with the dragon tattoo(s) comment has already been made?

    Still really cool though.

  17. Pretty much, :p

    I'd have more done on my forearms but my mum absolutely HATES the ones I already have and has said she'll disown me if I get any more. Funny, she's a real laid back hippy type in every other respect but tattoos and piercings seem to press her "old fogey" button hard. Bet Pinhead's mum doesn't nag him about his facial adornment...

  18. "If Pinhead jumped off a cliff (and through a portal to hell) I suppose you'd want to do that too?"

  19. You do make me laugh; you have such a brilliant way with words. I still giggle at 'girliest girl whoever girled'. I will be stealing that at some point.

  20. Still smiling. Just imagining...

    "Aww mum, all the other cenobites have got one"

    "Yes, and they look ridiculous. Your friend Mandy is a lovely looking girl, then she does that to her throat. How's that going to look when she goes for an interview?"

    *sniffle* *mumble* "You're mean, it's so unfair"

  21. Heh, thanks :)

    I will now forever be imagining the disapproval of Cenobite mothers and the female Cenobite being called Mandy, lol! If she shows up in the next volume I might steal that myself and christen her as such :D I was hoping to do volume three next month but then I remembered nearly all my family have their birthdays in October/November so I have to go easy on the treats for myself until January. Booo.

  22. I like to think she started out as as slightly mopey teenager with a bit of eyeliner moaning about how few busses there were to the town centre in Hell and it sort of grew from there.

    Oh sent you that story btw