Jae Lee and Jose Villarrubia brought Hellshock back in 1997. Except…it was an entirely new beast. All previous story lines appear to have been dropped. Not entirely, as the new series is actually set before the mini-series. But the first issue makes it clear you will have to wait to explore stories such as Detective Haight and Josh.
The story, instead, focuses on young psychologist Christina. In fact, it is almost 20 pages in before we are introduced to Daniel. Daniel is in an asylum and seems to be withdrawing. Christina takes his case, intrigued his dreams. Is he insane? Part of her wants to believe he is anything but.
Christina is the central focus of the three published issues. It is her struggles to make something meaningful of her work, as the cruelty of the regulations leave her losing faith in what can be done. As she finds herself constantly having to turn her back on desperate people (such as a homeless man trying to convince her he is mentally ill so he can have a warm place to sleep) she begins to despair.
It is through Daniel she starts to find any hope, but even that hope seems doomed. A tragic event seems to have left Daniel dead and Christina unable to cope with her role in that.
The new series is event more text intensive than the original, but it is also significantly better written. The first series still felt like it was close to the Super-Hero world. But everything here? No where near that. The writing is all about going into the heart of Christina and being a part of her world in a way that is highly effective.
It is not just storytelling where Lee has matured. His art? It is excellent in this series. He shows a marked progression from the original minis-series. And with the painted colors of Jose Villarrubia it is just beautiful looking work.
And the covers this time around are just all terrific. Here is the cover of the third issue:
Issue # 3 came out a full year after issue # 2. Sadly, we never saw another issue after that. It feels like there was so much farther to go and to have the series go silent after that is disappointing. Hellshock truly was one of the most original of the Image titles in the late 90’s and it would have been great to see the story go farther.