That old phrase about too many cooks spoiling the stew applies to the latest issue of "Hellraiser." Although in this case, it's not so much a problem of too many creators, but rather too many elements getting tossed into the pot. I didn't think we'd see a collision of "Hellraiser" with the old television show "Beauty and the Beast," but now we know for certain that the two don't mix well.
There's already a lot going on in "Hellraiser," as we see Kirsty and the other Harrowers hunting down the last of the objects that releases the Cenobite demons into our world, a mysterious man who is being dragged into moving said objects into new hands, and Kirsty's fiancé that died a horrific death in the previous issue. So into that mix, Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette decided to add in an underground group of homeless people (led by a "king") that lurk beneath the streets.
Never mind the fact that tonally, this new addition feels like it wandered in from an entirely different story. The bigger problem is that Barker and Monfette don't bother to even give it a proper instruction. Someone grabs the LeMarchand Box and runs into this secret society, only to then have it destroyed a few pages later. It feels less like an exciting new plot element, and more like a way to have a high body count without attracting attention. (Of course, after the subway train incident, that idea goes out the window too.)
At its core, this issue is little more than an extended chase scene that finally culminates in a conversation between Kirsty and Pinhead. There's nothing of great interest for that chase, though, and it makes each page feel like padding to bring us to the surprise cliffhanger just around the corner. In terms of script, this issue is a big disappointment.
Stephen Thompson is back on art again this month, and while his art lacks some of the dazzle that Leonardo Manco brought to the first two issues, he does have a much more consistent level of quality and attention to each page. The scene in the hospital is creepy because of the visuals rather than the script, and the subway massacre is suitably nauseating. I've found myself settling into the idea of Thompson as the regular artist for "Hellraiser," and considering he can make even some of the less desirable concepts look somewhat interesting, he's a good addition to the book.
With a promising cliffhanger here, my hopes are high that the book will shift back up to its regular level of quality next month. Right now, though, this is a less than completely satisfying comic. I've grown to expect a lot better from "Hellraiser."