Cullen Bunn has another new series coming out (the guy is a frickin’ workhorse) from Oni Press.
I don’t know anything about this series, but hey, it’s a surprise; who doesn’t like a surprise? Is it good?
Hellbreak #1 (Oni Press)
After an opening with a Greek myth (though in this series, “myth” is highly questionable), we are introduced to the special team that was created as part of Project Kerberos. What is this team? They are a special extraction force that dives into the depth of hell and searches the fiery demon landscape to retrieve lost souls that were taken away from poor families. It’s a dangerous mission, but if anyone can do it, they can.
Not a bad start for a first issue. Hellbreak does a decent job of establishing and setting up the organization, how they operate and what their mission is like, which with a concept like this is an important thing to do in order to ease the audience in. There’s nothing too deep here, but the issue provides you just enough so you get a good taste for what the series may be like.
There’s only one problem with the comic so far, but it isn’t too big and can easily be fixed as time goes on (heck, possibly in the second issue). There’s not much to the characters. Sure, you glean an idea of what their personalities are like — but right now we really don’t even know that much about the cast. There’s really not enough here from the characters to really latch onto; not even one moreso than the others. The closest relatable character we have is Jenner, the leader of the group, but there’s still not enough at the moment. This issue can easily be addressed in upcoming issues, but right now, it’s an area that needs immediate work.
Cullen’s writing overall on the book is fine and does the job. The pacing and structure on the book are fine, the dialogue is okay and there’s occasionally a good line here and there. On the creative side, there is a lot of potential for this book with the characters visiting different parts of hell and seeing the myriad kinds of demons. The first issue already shows some variance in the demons (I like the true reveal with the creatures’ faces), but hopefully it gets more unique going forward.
The artwork by Brian Churilla is pretty good as well. His style is a bit too cartoony in some areas given the subject matter (I refer to the unintentionally silly-looking monsters in the opening), but it’s fine overall. The characters look okay, the panel layouts are decent, the main demons are creepy. Credit has to go towards colorist Dave Stewart, since he does a great job livening everything up. Sometimes he contributes to the silliness, but other times he does a great job providing tone. I like how gray and washed-out the colors were for the demon’s masquerade ball and how it clashed with the bright red blood in areas.
Is It Good?
Hellbreak #1 is not a bad start to a brand new series, but it could use some work in areas. There’s potential here in the story and where it could ultimately go, so it may be a worth look as time goes on.