Clive Barker’s Seduth

Written by Clive Barker and Chris Monfette, with creative consultant Robb Humphries
Art by Gabriel Rodriguez
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

When I think about Clive Barker and comics, the first thing that leaps to mind for me is the Hellraiser series from Epic. Barker has a much larger connection to comics than just Hellraiser, of course; numerous stories and novels over the years were adapted into comics, and at one point there was even an entire short-lived line of comic series based off of Barker’s concepts. Hellraiser, especially in the early issues, was a top-notch horror series. Reading the new Clive Barker one-shot Seduth reminded me more than a little bit of those Hellraiser comics, but at least in part it’s a been-there, done-that sort of way.

It’s hard to not draw parallels to those Hellraiser comics, with a lot of storytelling and visual similarities. Like Hellraiser, there’s a puzzle or pattern to be solved, although in this case it’s the idea of a "rule of four." As the protagonist grows obsessed with a diamond that holds the key to Seduth (just like the obsession over the various puzzles that open the gateways to Hell), it eventually leads him into the center of the inferno and the dangerous being at the heart of Hell (just like the Leviathan in Hellraiser). With the movie franchise of Hellraiser a series of direct-to-DVD productions these days, I can see Barker wanting to start over with Seduth, trying to go back to basics. But once you strip away the similarities, there’s not much else there.

As a one-shot, it’s hard to tell if this is a prologue to something bigger down the line, or if Seduth is already at its conclusion. If it’s the latter, it’s a slightly frustrating comic because it’s all set-up and exposition. Once our protagonist discovers the nature of Seduth, where can the series really go? The world in general is in ruins, and it feels like a one note idea. Some of the ideas that Barker uses, like the crystals spreading throughout people’s bodies, are certainly unnerving and definitely feel like a vintage Barker spike of horror. But there’s just not enough here to make me sit up and take notice.

The best part about Seduth—and I can’t believe I’m writing this—is the 3-D gimmick applied to Gabriel Rodriguez’s art. Rodriguez’s art on its own is good, a solid look that reminds me places of early Joe Quesada art. I like how he draws people’s bodies, in a fluid but lean sort of way. Individual hairs feel almost cylindrical, and there’s a sharp sense of style on Rodriguez’s people that makes them look real. Once you put on the provided 3-D glasses, though, you see that Rodriguez has laid out his pages with extra care to make sure that this effect works. From spirals of crystal shards, to leaping flames of the inferno, things pop out at the reader in such a way that ends up being fun. It may be a simple red-and-blue 3-D effect, but Rodriguez put a lot of thought into what would look neat as they leaned towards the reader, and I like the end result.

Seduth is a one-shot that, for now, seems aimed squarely at Barker completists. With both a co-author and a creative consultant listed, I’m not sure how much of the comic beyond the basic premise is really his, mind you. Still, if Barker and IDW have plans for an ongoing series, I’d be curious to see how they’re going to manage it. For now, though, aside from the 3-D look of the comic, I don’t think there is enough new here to warrant buying this as a casual reader. There are better Barker-helmed comics out there, unfortunately.

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