Things get spastic in Hellraiser: The Dark Watch #3, a book that had me struggling to keep up. The story starts with two shocking moments as both Elliot Spencer and Kirsty are transformed into monsters by their respective otherworldly sponsors. Elliot has already proven to be that kind of guy in the issues prior but to see the heroic Kirsty get turned into a pinheaded Ceneobite is gross and painful to watch. The rest of the issue takes a roller coaster ride through various memories fabricated by the grand miser of hell himself, Leviathan, who has casually taken on the guise of... a milkman.
I don’t know why but this choice of disguise made me laugh, there’s really no explanation for it outside of just because. I like to imagine the inner dialogue of the warden of hell itself while coming up with the choice, “What haven’t I been yet? hmm... OH! How about a...no that’s stupid...you know what? Fuck it. Whoosh!” If you were wondering whoosh is totally the sound of a demon lord transforming... what you didn’t know?
Clive Barker and Brandon Seifert manage to keep your attention though mostly because ridiculous things happen every few pages and there seem to be few rules in the lore of Hellraiser, also the violence is so aggressive and nasty that I couldn’t stop looking. With pretty much any tools at their disposal the supernatural beings in this book dispatch and mutilate with impunity. It’s a teeth gritting good time to see what terrible thing is going to splash across the page next.
The dialogue does its job ferrying you through the plot points but doesn’t really pop all that much. However, it is cool to see how unhinged Elliot has become with the newly found powers of his new “benefactor” pumping him up. A trick he pulls posing as Kirsty's uncle is particularly maniacal and even if we don’t fully realize his significance to her it’s clear it was nothing good. Something that struck me as weird during this issue was seeing that Kirsty is a cenobite but she’s not in any way evil. I’m not particularly well versed in the world of Hellraiser but you’d think that being transformed into a servant of the devil himself via ritual mutilation would do that to a person.
I continue to feel lukewarm towards the art of Tom Garcia. It’s frustrating because I tend to really like the cover artists, (where are they in the pages of the actual book?) He continues to do gore and blood well but outside of that the thick lines and awkward face rendering make everything feel rather amateurish and uninspired. Vladimir Popov also does a strange everyone-is-shiny thing with lighting that makes the characters look like wax.
Sometimes in these books I feel like things happen just because they do and it feels a bit disjointed and odd but, this isn’t supposed to be a book for those looking for a particularly compelling story. It’s a reason to check in on Clive Barker`s classic monsters and the blood splattered world they inhabit with a bit of story and drama thrown in for good measure. And on that front it succeeds. I do not doubt any fans will have major complaints, I know I don`t. This is a decent niche book that’s average at narrative, okay at art and good at gore and monsters. And that’s all it really needs to be.
Writers: Clive Barker & Brandon Seifert
Artist: Tom Garcia
Publisher: Boom Studios
Release Date: 4/17/13