Advanced Review: Hellicious #1 Turns Up The Heat This Summer

by Rachel Bellwoar

Cherry is Sin’s daughter. She escorts dead souls for her mom, and more than anything in Hell, Cherry wants a human to call her own.

This is the story behind Hellicious, a new comic series co-written by Mina Elwell (Infernoct) and A.C. Medina (Welcome to Paradise), and which I’ve found answers well to the description: “the ‘I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas’ song if you swapped “human pet” in for ‘hippopotamus.”

My mind goes to that song, though, because Cherry looks like someone you would conjure up as the source of that voice, sweet but manipulative at the same time. Much ado is made about Cherry’s age (which seems for real and not a Shade, The Changing Girl situation, where Shade is inhabiting a younger girl’s body) but an unspoken question is why Cherry looks, for all appearances, human. Her mother and grandfather share a family resemblance that is clearly inhuman, but Cherry’s in the same boat as Marilyn from the TV show, The Munsters. Nothing is explicitly made of it yet, but it’s also something you can’t help but notice this issue, carrying through to Micah Myers’ letters, which have Sin and grandpa talking in a purple text, while Cherry talks in black.

While on the subject of Myers’ letters, there are a ton of fun flourishes, from the faded green used for Mickey’s dialogue, to the way the text gets taller and thinner when Cherry’s whining. Mickey is the decapitated head mounted to the boat they use to carry damned souls over Hell’s fiery waters and the softness of his speech seems to project how ineffectual he is to stop Cherry from doing what she wants.

Cherry, for her part, isn’t someone who shocks easily. The sights of Hell are old hat to her, so she has a difficult time empathizing with her more panicky passengers. The first time you see artist Kit Wallis’ Hell, it’s an abrupt transition and that’s Cherry’s personality. She’s not someone who feels any pressure to explain what’s going on and you can imagine what that’s like for new arrivals. It’s similar to how it’s always worse in a horror movie, when the monsters are left to your imagination. That’s Cherry and Hell.

Wallis gives Cherry a very expressive face, the better to employ towards her goal of getting a human companion. With eyes that can morph from incredulity to undisguised duplicity, there’s a magic to how much a head tilt can bridge the gap between angelic and troublemaker.

I love when background details pay off pages later and that there’s resolution to a wild-eyed cat who appears on the first page made my literary day. Jio Butler’s sun-scorched colors add a wonderful glaze of heat to Hell. At one point Cherry rides a mini, purple Cerberus, which sounds like the perfect pet, but Cherry really wants a human.

Fans of Image’s I Hate Fairyland, Hellicious #1 goes on sale July 25th from Starburns Industries Press. For a preview of the first issue, be sure to pick up Starburns Presents #1 this Free Comic DaySaturday, May 5th.