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Hellraiser Bestiary #6

Review by Paul Bowler

The final chapter of the Hellraiser anthology gathered in Hellraiser Bestiary #6, presents us with three of the most disturbing and visceral fables of horror based on Clive Barker’s Hellraiser mythos so far by this series, in a spellbinding issue of darkness that will rend your imagination until it drips blood red with the majesty of the Cenobites legacy of pleasure and pain. This innovative new anthology series from BOOM! Studios, with its devilish mix of talented writers and artists, has taped a fresh vein of horror that invites us to solve the darkest secrets of the lament configuration puzzle box and explore the blood spattered sights that await us in Hellraiser Bestiary…

The first story in this issue, A Place for Everything, written by Christopher Sebela (Dead Letters), with art by Matt Battaglia, is the unsettling tale of a hoarder whose obsessive compulsion brings dire repercussions for those she loves more than life itself. Christopher Sebela skilfully builds this sombre, heartrending tale, one that unfolds as this poor elderly woman looks back on the tragic events that have shaped her life, as her vain attempts to escape from the past becomes overrun with the clutter she obsessively gathers, until it threatens even her loving family. Matt Battaglia’s art captures the mood and tone of this story perfectly, and the resolution will sear this woman’s horrifying index of terror into your imagination long after the outcome is revealed…

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Ben Meares and Christian Francis introduce us to a scientist who is hell bent on solving the mysteries of the puzzle box. The Science of Madness is a wickedly inventive tale where a scientist has only three days left to discover the secrets of the puzzle box even though it defies all manner of rational explanation. The art for this story by Peter Bergting builds on the drama wrought by the scientist’s frustration, before the solution which finally presents itself delivers a most unexpected climax, one that even confounds the Cenobites themselves!

The Hunted: Part Six concludes Hellraiser Bestiary in fine style, as Pinhead finally confronts the mercenaries who stole his pins. Writers Ben Meares and Mark Miller have certainly given Pinhead a tough time over the course of this story, now at last we get to see the payback for all the suffering he’s endured, as Pinhead takes on the leader of the mercenaries in a secret underground vault in the very heart of the Vatican City itself. I’ve really enjoyed this six part story by Meares and Miller, it’s been unflinchingly violent and blood thirsty at times, and it’s been fascinating to see how Pinhead has coped with the dire situation he suddenly found himself in. The Hunted: Part Six features great art by Carlos Magono, from the action-packed showdown in the vault, to the thrilling moment Pinhead is reunited with the pins so savagely stolen from his flesh, Magono’s art for this storyline has made every fiendish moment a delight to behold, and the colors by Matt Battaglia ensures this instalments looks incredible with his stunning use of tone and shade throughout. The conclusion sees Pinhead returned at his very best, and the new décor he chooses for the new Bestiary is most fitting…

Hellraiser Bestiary has been one of my favourite titles over the last few months. Each issue has featured some great stories and excellent artwork, making them all superb additions to Clive Barker’s Hellraiser legacy, and I certainly hope that we get to see another Hellraiser anthology series from BOOM! Studios.