Hellraiser the Dark Watch #8
Review by Paul Bowler
The Cenobites are suffering terrible losses in their war with a new breed of Demon, creatures that are seemingly impervious to attack. They are also using the bodies of the fallen Cenobites to form a massive Glyph of the Solutent across the surface of the Labyrinth. Having saved D’Amour from a Raparee, Tiffany and her friends travel into the Labyrinth with the New High Priest of Hell and join the battle. Using a protection talisman and a demon slaying knife, they drive the invaders back and leave Butterfield at the mercy of the Cenobites. Tiffany is shocked when she learns D‘Amour has been lying about her adoptive mother, Kirsty Cotton, and that he secretly knew where she was all this time. Armed only with her demon killing knife and protection talisman, Tiffany remains in Hell and begins searching for Kirsty.
Hellraiser the Dark Watch #8 plunges Tiffany deep into the hidden depths of the Labyrinth as she continues her quest to find her adoptive mother. Clive Barker and co-writer Brandon Seifert have constantly made Tiffany’s character one of the most interesting aspects of this title. She has a rebellious steak, her relationship with Kirsty is another highlight, and Tiffany’s determination to find her “mother” remains the series predominant driving force.
Tiffany strikes up an uneasy alliance with Butterfield, the major adversary from Lord of Illusions, who she rescues from his Cenobite interrogators. Although he no longer has any arms, Butterfield is still the master trickster of old, convincing Tiffany to free him so he can lead her to Kirsty.
The art by Tom Gracia captures every gruesome detail of the Cenobites shadowy realm of pleasure and pain. Mid-way through the issue Butterfield’s body splits open and he metamorphoses into a horrific worm creature, bristling with claws, with only his human face left fused atop the slithering abomination. Gracia seems to delight in creating these gloriously macabre creatures, Butterfield’s new form is truly repugnant, as is the way he can now ensnare people to gets up close and personal with his victims.
Butterfield guides Tiffany to a vast chamber filled with gleaming crystals and delicate glowing orbs. Kirsty Cotton and Elliot Spencer are trapped inside one of the small glowing orbs, a mind prison, one of Leviathan’s tortures. Tiffany finds herself inexplicably drawn into the orb, where she is reunited with Kirsty and ends up fighting Spencer. Once they manage to break free of the orbs influence Tiffany confronts D’amour about why he lied to her, but before the Pontifex can explain, the Labyrinth begins to collapse around them as a terrifying new threat appears.
Hellraiser the Dark Watch #8 concludes with a flesh rending twist that few could have predicted. Clive Barker and Brandon Seifert continue to expand the scope and scale of this Hellraiser series, drawing together several plot elements as the issues builds towards its gut wrenching cliff-hanger. Together with Tom Gracia’s art and Valadimir Popov’s excellent colors, Hellraiser the Dark Watch #8 is one of the series best issues so far.