Hellbent: Issue 2 (Tightrope Comics / Self Published)
Words: Skyla Madi Pictures: Ash Madi
Content Warning: this issue contains graphic violence, sex scenes and mature themes and is only recommended for a mature audience.
Ash’s life is falling apart around him.
Bella, the love of his life, is dead.
He’s haunted by dark, demented and despair-filled nightmares which seem to seeping from the sleeping world to the waking one.
He is a pawn of prophecy and a victim of circumstance beyond his control.
He is the heir to a demonic legacy that he is only just beginning to comprehend.
And then things get worse…..
Australian Comics’ Power Couple Ash and Skyla Madi return with this latest installment of Hellbent which we first previewed when we talked to them around the middle of the year.
The 30 seconds or less version of the Hellbent story for those playing catch up is that Ash is the descendant of a wise and ancient warrior king. King Daryan struck a Faustian pact with the forces of Hell itself to protect the safety of those he lived and to bring peace and prosperity to his Kingdom. Centuries later those same Dark Forces have come to collect on Daryan’s unpaid debt and are Hellbent on dragging Ash down to the Pit with them in the process.
Skyla’s scripts combines her own experience as a writer of romance and erotica while leaning hard into many tropes of magical realism and horror fiction. The result is a plot which avoids many of the pitfalls which second issues can fall into as the pace of the story slows and focus shifts to introduce the other key elements of the story and allow for world building. Action sequences, character moments and exposition are well balanced as we begin to learn more about Ash’s true nature and his demonic tormentors.
Ash’s art style and in particular his character design continues to draw on a very Iron Age infused aesthetic which seems to combine elements of video game, horror move and super hero design. This is especially clear in his design of the trio of as yet unnamed demonic adversaries which Ash will no doubt have to confront and overcome in the issues ahead.
The last page reveal at the end of the issue telegraphs the likely next step in the story but there’s plenty here to (ahem) sink your teeth into as we dive headlong into the middle of the story.
It’s clear from the tone, subject matter and content of this issue that this series isn’t for everyone but that’s OK. If you’re looking for more lighthearted all ages fun there’s plenty of other stories we can recommend to you.
Fans of books from publishers like Zenescope and Avatar will find a lot to like here in this up and coming Australian indie horror comic.
Hellbent is available now through the Tightrope Comics online store. International fans or devotees of digital comics should keep an eye on the Tightrope Comics Comixology page for the first to issues of the series. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram for the latest on Hellbent.