With science and technology comes innovation, including the world of exorcism where elite teams venture into the multitude of hells to save lost souls. Guns and bombs help, too.

Hellbreak coverHELLBREAK #1
WRITER: Cullen Bunn
ARTIST: Brian Churilla, Dave Stewart
COLORIST: Dave Stewart
PUBLISHER: Oni Press
COVER PRICE: $1.00 (standard), $3.99 (variant)

EXTRACTION RATE – ALMOST 50%

When Orpheus went to rescue his wife Eurydice from Hades after her death, Hades agrees to bring her back to life on one condition – Orpheus must not look back as he returns to the surface. The true tragedy of the story is when he does, and Euridice is lost forever. It’s with this story that the comic opens, as well as planting the seed of an idea – what if this story were real, and there was a way to rescue someone from the afterlife? Or perhaps not the afterlife, but demon possession?

The Catholic Church subcontracts a special group known as Project Kerberos to do just that. I’ll admit I have a weakness for mixing supernatural or magical elements with technology. So in a part-Inception part-Matrix sort-of way, a Black Ops-like team is taken in to rescue a young man whose soul was sold on Hell’s market.

Hell isn’t so simple, and it turns out there are hundreds of them. With a multitude of monstrosities, part of the terror is the devil you don’t know. I adored seeing an entire room full of monsters throwing a masquerade and channeling Marie Antoinette for fashion. But there’s plenty of traditional disfigured and asymmetrical monsters for those who want that, and I think the fun to come in this series will see the various ways the monsters take their forms.

First chapters, or the first few chapters of a longer work, can often suffer from a plethora of “and here is THIS character!” moments, but I didn’t get it over the head with it here. There wasn’t enough time to get to know anyone – we’re thrown in the middle of a mission. It’ll be even more solid once there are more issues, but on its own it’s still great here.

Bunn does get massive bonus points for having the female character not be white, as we need more female characters in comics, and definitely more female characters of color. The problem is, she’s the only woman. At all.

We are introduced to what could potentially be seven major characters going forward in the story, and only one of them is a woman. Even if someone were to argue that women still make up a minority of the military, there could easily be two women in the squad and they would still be a minority. Every woman I know who’s in the military could have done stuff like the men are doing here. These characters don’t appear to be possessed with any supernatural power to make them fight better – they’re highly trained and using some awesome tech to get in and out. More than one woman could be on this team.

I do realize that this is the first issue and we really don’t have time to get to know anyone and there are sure to be new characters coming soon. But such a stark ratio of men to women when there’s no need has to be called out when its seen. This is a problem, and my largest critique of an otherwise great first issue.

DON’T LOOK BACK

The mixing of the supernatural and technology can be tricky from an art standpoint, but nothing felt out of place in this issue. The art can be hyper-detailed when it wants, and it tends to do so when the story gets into the Weird.

I really, really did not enjoy how Nadia, the female character, was drawn. Her face was inconsistent, and without her brightly dyed hair and skin tone, I wouldn’t always know it was her. And while I know she was doing a lot of fighting, and hair can look very different in different situations, it still never felt right. The fact that her hair is a non-natural color only seeks to draw attention to the artistic flaws when they arise.

The stark difference between if the background are detailed or not also help set the mood of this being a strange story that the reader is entering. I don’t think I would have given some of the less-detailed backgrounds a pass if it wasn’t for the fact that it worked so well with the weirdness of Hell.

The inking, I think, really brought the whole comic together. It was the unifying factor in helping the tech make sense in Hell, managing to look both smooth and rough at the same time. I also loved the transition of using muted colors to warm colors, depending on what realm the story was taking place.

It’s also worth nothing, that while there is a lot of monsters, the violence isn’t as graphic as I was expecting. It’s more milder-horror graphic for the monsters, if anything.

There are also excellent variant covers by Jenny Frison, Cliff Chiang, and Dave Johnson that are worth taking a look at.

BOTTOM LINE: WEIRDLY WONDERFUL

Bloodthirsty monsters wearing couture gowns fighting Black Ops-like forces? Yes please. Both the art and story are strong, and while I do have some criticisms, I can’t wait for issue #2. Even though I got a chance to read a review copy, I’m going to buy a copy of my own. I’d pay more than a dollar for this 28 page issue – and if I can get a hold of the Jenny Frison variant I will – but for a dollar this is a hell of a deal.

With science and technology comes innovation, including the world of exorcism where elite teams venture into the multitude of hells to save lost souls. Guns and bombs help, too. HELLBREAK #1 WRITER: Cullen Bunn ARTIST: Brian Churilla, Dave Stewart COLORIST: Dave Stewart PUBLISHER: Oni Press COVER PRICE: $1.00 (standard), $3.99 (variant) EXTRACTION RATE - ALMOST 50% When Orpheus went to rescue his wife Eurydice from Hades after her death, Hades agrees to bring her back to life on one condition - Orpheus must not look back as he returns to the surface. The true tragedy of the story is when…
A strong first issue that promises a lot of weirdness and incredible art to come.

Hellbreak #1

Writing
Artist
Coloring

A strong first issue that promises a lot of weirdness and incredible art to come.

User Rating: 2.85 ( 1 votes)

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The Author

Becky Armstrong

Becky Armstrong

Becky lives in Philadelphia, but is from the Midwest, and is still weirded out by the ability to go to so many big cities on the Eastern Coast in a short period of time. She's been geek and nerd her entire life, and never grew out of telling her own stories about the characters she saw in TV/movies and books. This lead to thinking of some of her own stories too, and getting a B.A. in Creative Writing from Eastern Michigan University. Her second greatest love is sharing her interests with her friends. She was often called "the Library" with how often she let her friends borrow her books, and for her vast collection of manga that would put 98.72% of libraries to shame.

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