‘Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Omnibus Volume 1:’ Advance Trade Paperback Review

Have you ever passed someone on a poorly lit street and felt unsettled, but familiar? A wash of emotion wisps by in an instant, while faint memories echo through your mind. A complete stranger, minding their own business, and suddenly you're aware of them. Personally. Perhaps in the past or in an afterlife that no longer exists you knew that person, and that person is real. You can feel it in your racing heart and the cold marrow of your bones. And you smile. That stranger was just an old colleague that you've not seen in a long while that could have been kept longer if you had only let good enough be. An old colleague whose business is you.

The opening pages of Clive Barker's Hellraiser Omnibus revealed a world I've long since forgotten. A world started in 1987 by Barker who took his novella, The Hell Bound Heart, and adapted horror on the big screen to a level unlike any that had seen before.

In case you're unfamiliar with the Hellraiser series, let me fill you in like a fresh grave. It all began with a magician toy maker and ends with a woman on the other side of what she ran from all her life. In between we have WWI Capt. Elliott Spencer, a man uninspired by what pleasures were available on Earth, and what delicious decadence lay beyond the realm of flesh. With an endowed toy puzzle box and the right combination of desire and pain, Capt. Elliott Spencer became the Cenobite Hell Priest known affectionately by fans around the world as Pinhead.

Our other familiar face from the Hellraiser series is Kirsty Cotton. Betrayed by her stepmother, who killed her father, and brought back to life by her sadistic and seductive brother-in-law, Frank. Uncle Frank was, until then, preoccupied by the torture of the Cenobites, angels of Hell that came to claim him once the puzzle box known as the "Lemarchand Configuration" was opened and allowed passage from their Hell to ours. Kirsty got the last laugh on them the first time around, but it wouldn't be the last that she would see of them - the beasts from whence Leviathan holds court.

Which brings us to now. Years later, we catch up with friends on both sides of the box. Kirsty is in love; she has friends and a job that keeps her busy, but satisfied. She and her co-workers find and destroy objects that, like the puzzle box, open gateways to Hell. Believing this will close off any other entrances to the other side, they work tirelessly, traveling the world in search of the keys that open a door, a door best left alone and unknown. "Unknown," they can't take back. Innocence is no excuse for Hell's lust and hunger.

What has become of the Cenobite Pinhead after all these years? Tearing souls apart, desires of the flesh (both carnal and exquisite pain) leave him wanting. After years of sadistic pleasure, he finds the familiar all too familiar. There is only so much a man can take. And take. And take. Until it isn't enough. Change is not only an escape from the mundane, but escaping to where you could never expect.

Now, when Kirsty and Pinhead interact, it's like two rivals dancing. They each know the other's moves, but they don't expect to come to an agreement that could be beneficial for them both. That's what the man tells us and so say it the truth.

Clive Barker's Hellraiser Omnibus is chock full of violence, revenge, redemption, and surprise. I can't remember the last time I really read a page turner or the last time I cursed out the phone for interrupting me and my 500+ page adventure. The artwork is gorgeous, and the cover work a wonderful collaboration between multiple artists and writers. The biggest of them all is Clive Barker. Artist, writer, and director, he sums up the title of "creator" exceptionally. Having free reign to do with his characters as he will, Barker provides us all with something the world can never do with too many of: stories.

If you want a good story to take you down the poorly lit street on an adventure for the ages, check out Clive Barker's Hellraiser Omnibus.

You can thank me later...

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