After a breakout first issue I was very curious to see how Hellbreak #2 would turn out. Frankly I’m a bit impressed because I’ve been reading a lot of second issues lately that haven’t come close to their first issue counterpart. Hellbreak #2 manages to follow the hard act that was Hellbreak #1 and is good for damn near completely different reasons. In retrospect I actually like and appreciate the first issue more after this second issue. Hellbreak #1 accomplished an amazing feat of introducing the world, the concept, the character and accomplishing a mission all in one issue. That’s not to say that the second issue is bad because the mission doesn’t finish here, but it definitely has the benefit of taking it’s time and building the characters and the world of the story more than the first did.
The opening introduces a priest that instantly became a character to pay attention to. He’s sitting calmly and takes a phone call in which he informs Proctor that he has a “candidate for the program.” Cut to a man chained to a bed that looks more Solomon Grundy than he does human. They begin dialoguing and it’s great because the possessed man/demon within thinks that he can penetrate the priest’s metnal armor by asking when the praying begins. The priest calmly and coldly informs him that the praying comes later. It was an interesting opening that only got better when the priest and possessed man meet again.
The team we met last time of course have another mission otherwise we wouldn’t be reading the book. I don’t really need to break it down for you because it’s pretty cut and dry, they’re going to enter a version of hell and save the man’s soul if they can.
The issue excels at developing characters and further explaining the team and foundation. Spend time with two characters in particular and I’m sure we’ll see why next time. What stood out to me was the demon’s explanation of what sin allowed him into his host and the story explaining all the different versions of Hell. Cullen Bunn is a talented writer. I’m honestly not a fan of his “big two” stuff, but when it’s a story of his own making it tends to be pretty damn incredible. There’s just a sense that that he’s in control of the overall story more which gives the reader a lot of confidence.
On the art side Brian Churilla continues being the best possible fit for the story. This really is some of his best work to date. He captures the eerie tone of the story with his artwork. What’s also very impressive is the way he produces the frightening nature of a team entering hell. I can only imagine what happens if you die in hell and Churilla produces that feeling of fear that it’s clearly on the teams mind at all times. The creature designs, while minimal is this issue, continue to be imaginative and fitting for this story.
I don’t know if I’ll review every issue of Hellbreak, but I’m definitely on board as a reader. With this second issue Hellbreak proves that it’s one of the best new series on the monthly market. Again, I’ve read a lot of second issue flops lately so it really is an impressive to see just how damn good this issue turned out. If you missed the first issue then catch up, it’s worth the time.