Written by: Cullen Bunn
Art by: Brian Churilla
I love paramilitary tactical squad comics. Give me any sense of a larger organization, code names or last names, utilities and kevlar, gear dangling from web belts and I’m there. So, naturally, Hellbreak from Oni Press is just my kind of bag. Add top comics talent with the likes of Cullen Bunn and Brian Churilla…you pretty much couldn’t screw that up.
Hellbreak #2 sees the team headed out on their second chronicled mission, although this particular drop is the team’s 20th overall. The comic has a very Stargate kind of feel. That is one of my few criticisms, in that the Stairwell, which is the portal that the team uses to access the infinite shards of hell, looks pretty much exactly like a Stargate.
Story construction in Hellbreak #2 is pretty solid. There are a handfull of silent pages which lends to the books slightly eerie feel, but also makes it feel like on ongoing TV serial. You know, those minutes of characters on-screen where they are just moving and assembling gear or transitioning from one scene to another. Silent panels are becoming more and more a trope that is sometimes reached for too frequently in comics. But it is perfectly natural and fits well here. Not a ton of character development right now, but that is ok, because we are just getting to know the team. And there is a good bit of exposition to get you geared up to understand the lay of the land. I expect more meat as the issues progress, but issue #2 lands you squarely in a good place and ensures you have the awareness you need to not get lost.
Art and colors here are just above average. But the bright spots are in the horror elements. From the cover through the other creepisodes in the various panels, you’ll gain a tangible sense of the macabre. There is a scene where a possessed person vomits feces, flies, and maggots on a priest that exceeds the horror of anything seen in an Exorcist film. The panels with children in hell and demon hounds let you know that the Orpheus Team is dealing in matters a bit more severe than any episode of Stargate.
With a feel reminiscent of Hellboy and B.P.R.D., I really like what I am seeing here from Bunn and Churilla. Not enough to add it to my pull-list just yet, but I’ll be checking in on it from time to time. This is a story that I think will read incredibly good in trades, so keep an eye out for those. And if horror books and the supernatural are in your wheelhouse, or if you are just looking for a solid genre book to add to your pulls, you would not go wrong by adding this one. Great stuff.