cover image CLIVE BARKER'S HELLRAISER: Collected Best III


Various, et al. . Checker, $26.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-9753808-0-2

Who'd have suspected that Clive Barker's novella The Hellbound Heart would spawn the feature film Hellraiser (helmed by the author himself), a gaggle of uneven sequels and a following that craved even more tales of twisted individuals and demonic Cenobites? At 342 pages, this third collection of the Hellraiser- inspired comics might look like a cornucopia of kinky chills, gore and fetishism. Yet while there is occasionally some impressive art, the overall content is extremely disappointing, pretentious and, above all, repetitive. Most of the stories follow the by-the-numbers scenario of a disaffected malcontent figuring out the solution to a puzzle box that opens a doorway into the nightmare world of the Cenobites, thereby dooming himself to eternal sadomasochistic torment. That formula is wearying after one or two run-throughs, and more than that—the 15 stories read like they came from an assembly line—is an exercise in tedium. There's also a gallery of some 100 one-page illustrations, mostly mediocre, that serves as filler. Matrix completists may be interested in the adaptations by the nonprolific director Larry Wachowski. Clive Barker's brand name notwithstanding, few will find this book worth the price. (July)