Review – Hellbreak #1 (Oni Press)
Publisher: Oni Press
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Brian Churilla
Release Date: March 11th, 2015
Hellbreak is a brand new series from writer Cullen Bunn and artist Brian Churilla, and introduces us to the unusual world of the Kerebos Project, an organisation set up to help recapture possessed souls from the depths of hell. However, while they have their own spiritual exorcism division working in the real world to help save the unfortunate victim, they also utilise the ‘Orpheus Team’, a black ops unit that travels into hell itself to liberate the souls in a slightly more visceral fashion.
To be honest, “black ops in hell” would probably have been enough of a pitch to make me pick this title up on its own, but the addition of such a strong creative team made this pretty much a guaranteed purchase. After a strong introduction to set the scene, Bunn throws us headlong into an Orpheus Team mission, giving us a brief, action-packed introduction to some of the key characters and showing us just how they conduct their business. The dialogue is snappy, if a little generic in places, but definitely does its job in stressing the urgency of the mission and emphasising the main characteristics of a few of the team members.
Churilla’s artwork is also of its usual high standard here, providing a dynamic sense of drama as the mission rapidly degenerates into chaos. His character design is top notch, particularly when it comes to the truly disturbing hellspawn the team encounters. Seriously. Weird, weird stuff. Plus, with an infinite number of hells out there for the team to ‘visit’, it’s safe to say that the visual aesthetic of Hellbreak is going to be one of its strongest points as the series moves forward, with Churilla likely to be given all manner of opportunities to flex his creative muscle.
While there isn’t really much of an idea given yet about just where this story will be heading, this first issue can be viewed almost as the equivalent of a pre-movie prologue in a Bond movie, providing us with a dynamic introduction to the world that Bunn and Churilla have created by showing the Orpheus Team in action.
Overall, Hellbreak provides a unique take on the somewhat overdone exorcism trope which, used correctly, has the potential to provide near limitless storyline possibilities as this ongoing series develops. So long as the characters are fleshed out a little in the issues to come, you can count me in with this one for the foreseeable future – something which, given the creative team at the helm, seems all but guaranteed.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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