Characters Appearing: Hellstorm
Issue(s): Hellstorm #17
The story begins at a location where people go to commit "complete" suicide by being strapped to underground nuclear devices, such that their souls are destroyed as well. Hellstrom raises a toast to those people for successfully having "cheated both Hell and Heaven of their souls".
This doesn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the story; it's just a tone-setting Ellisism.
The actual story just happens to take place near the suicide spot. It's a monastary called the Jericho Monastery. One of the monks there was a serial killer in hiding named Ervil Allred. He found some arcane notes left behind by Stephen Loss (who will figure into the present day Hellstrom issues), after Loss spent some time at the Monastery as a guest. The page grants Allred the power to kill people just by hating them (and he's grown to hate the other monks), and then he uses the page to summon a demon called the Somnambulist (and his minions December and January).
The Somnambulist has been helping Allred kill, and in return he wants Allred's help in bringing him out of Hell. The Somnambulist is a former sorcerer who had an altercation with Satan 200 years earlier in this same town of Jericho. Thanks the the intervention of a "Sorcerer Supreme" (presumably the Ancient One), the battle resulted in the Somnambulist getting imprisoned in Hell, and the existence of the Monastery prevents the Somnambulist from coming back. There's also a bit about Satan having written a novel on the skulls of everyone in the town (another Ellisism). Allred goes along with the plan to bring the Somnambulist back, and massacres the townspeople, but Hellstorm shows up and kills him before the ritual is complete.
Allred is sexually repulsed-but-attracted to human body hair, hence Hellstorm's line to him at the end there.
It's a well-told Vertigo-esque horror story. It's a little disoriented when appearing in the middle of a series, and i don't think the opening line made it clear enough that this was an out-of-sequence story (like, ok, Daimon took a road trip before his father's death, but does that necessarily mean that the events of this story are taking place then? Or is that just setting up background info?). Also, you might think that Ellis would use the opportunity of a continuity insert to set things up for his present day story, but aside from the behind-the-scenes cameo of Stephen Loss, nothing here relates to the main story. And the resolution (essentially, Hellstorm shows up and stops things) is pretty basic. The quick ending does give it a kind of classic Strange Tales-ish feel, but it still feels a bit cheap. Still, the Ellisisms (including much more flavor around the individual monks and the reasons why Allred hates them) ensure that the story is told with a unique voice.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place "In the January of the year before [Hellstorm's] father's death". The MCP place it before the start of this series.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
Ellis will revisit the nuclear-suicide-to-cheat-heaven-and-hell-of-your-souls idea in Planetary. Again, it has nothing really to do with the story, but it's a cool idea, and cooler when illustrated by John Cassaday.
Posted by: Andrew | December 14, 2017 4:59 PM
You pushed the early issues of the Hellstorm series after Terror 13 so that they would go after Hellfire's last appearance. Shouldn't this go after Terror 13 as well?
Posted by: Michael | December 15, 2017 12:10 AM
I'm not sure if Daimon's brief use of powers in this story should be taken as a sign that he has his Dark Soul back, but it doesn't hurt to push this story up a bit.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 17, 2017 3:56 PM
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