I always had a love/hate relationship with horror. Never really liked a lot of it. The Saw franchise was stupid to me. Lovecraft horror is about as overplayed as steampunk. Still, I really enjoy certain horror settings. The most interesting and intriguing levels in Doom 3 were the ones set in hell (though considering the rest of it was just steel hallways I guess that's not saying much) while games like Amnesia: Dark Descent were awesome. I had never really dealt with horror in the comic book medium until now. As my first foray into comic book horror, I'd say Hellbound 2 made a very good first impression for the genre as a whole.
Like another book I reviewed, 24/7, Hellbound 2 is a collection of very short graphic stories by various artists, along with some portrait type pictures, all within the horror genre. Some are funny, some are creepy, almost all of them made me go "holy shit." There's a lot of talent condensed into this volume, both in terms of writing and art.
What I love is how loose these guys play with the theme. Lindsay Moore's "Dolly" is classic 90s horror, with all the creepiness you feel as a kid left alone at night with nothing but the TV on. "The Plague" by Patrick Flaherty and E.J. Barnes may seem like it doesn't fit since it's just a fight between a dog and some grackles, but when you get to the end and think about the theme it absolutely does. "The Red Calf" by Gabriel Robinson is one of those skeptic conversations you might have over an urban legend, and the subtleties in the story are very nicely done. Caitlin Plovnick's "Eye Contact" is friggin hilarious, but I'll let you see why.
I really enjoy the goofy stories the most, though, just because of how funny/creepy they are. But that's like saying I like meat lover's pizza best when all the pizzas are just as awesome.
Every single panel is in black and white, but every artist plays in that medium with excellent finesse. Clayton McCormack's "Breath of Life" is full of thick angry brushstrokes that complement his Lovecraft homage very well. Andy Wong and Ansis Purins uses style reminiscent of some of my favorite comic books to illustrate their stories; Purins' work looks a lot like K.C. Greens', which I really enjoy. Wong, for his part, has sort of a Bryan Lee O'Malley art style going on with the solid lines and clean appearance. Jarel Dye's "Necronomicon" is fantastic just because it reminds me of those grungy 90s pulp comics, all dirt and grime and callousness. Logan Faerber's "Grandpire" gets surreal really fast and man is it amusing to look at.
The single-shot panels are great too. They're basically just pictures of random horror stuff, sometimes a monster, sometimes a scene. Each one has its own style and it's always great to look at. Nate Furman's is probably my favorite just because it reminds me of Zdislaw Beksinski (RIP you saucy mofo).
Hey, this is the second compilation I've reviewed and it's a #2 in its series, like the 24/7 book I reviewed! And I'm the second born in my family! Man, so many 2s. Satanists always had a thing for numbers. I bet it's a sign of--yep, there's a hell portal opening under me. Knew the number 2 was going to kill me someday. Take it from me kids, the horror genre is a gateway. Literally.
TL;DR: Hellbound 2 is great, so go buy it, you chumps. Laugh and then scream.
Hellbound 2 is edited by Roho and Jesse Longerman (and a bunch of others I couldn't list), and published by Ninth Art Press in partnership with River Bird Comics and Boston Comics Roundtable. Check out any of their websites to purchase the book.