The Predator and Hellbound manhwas explore similar themes, but the former Korean webtoon focuses much more on the violence by humans and monsters.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Hellbound chapter 22 and The Predator chapter 14!
A new manhwa called The Predator is much darker than the highly popular Hellbound webtoon, also from Korea, that sparked the hit Netflix series.
The two manhwas share many similarities, most especially how humanity perceives the brutal killings of terrifying monsters as acts of a higher power. The main difference lies, however, in the level of focus on the violence. Similar to the Netflix show, the original Hellbound manhwa revolves around how humanity reacts to prophecies that foretell the damnations of supposed sinners followed by “demonstrations” when terrifying apparitions beat them to death. The story is driven by the investigations and the point of view of police officer Gyeonghun Jin as he simultaneously grapples with the pathetic sentence his wife’s killer received and his son’s connection to a religious cult known as The New Truth.
Unlike the Hellbound Korean comic, The Predator more closely follows its own eponymous monster that hungers for human blood and the humans who rally around and travel with it. The manhwa begins with a boy named Sangjin terrorized by a predator that lives with him. The monster yearns for blood, and to keep the creature from devouring him, Sangjin finds other victims (i.e. food) but, to ease his conscience, only chooses horrible people. Things spiral out of control when a cultist named Jiwon gets involved and believes the predator is actually Lord Molar, a god her cult praises for enacting divine judgment on the unworthy. Jiwon obviously has fewer moral qualms than Sangjin does in choosing the beast’s prey and her over-indulgence in how she utilizes the creature eventually forces them to flee, eventually entangling them with a man who’s terrorized by one of his customers. When the Jiwon-christened Lord Molar spares the man’s life, he praises the monster and beseeches the ostensible god to impart a reckoning on the man who has been terrorizing him.
In Hellbound, the fact that the apparitions are a mystery that appear during demonstrations forces the manhwa to explore how humanity reacts to and thinks about violence. There’s the cult The New Truth that views the people these apparitions attack as sinners who deserve their fate. Meanwhile, Gyeonghun and the police perceive these people as victims and the demon apparitions as vigilantes. The ethical question as to whether a higher power has the right to condemn humans when humanity already has a judicial system is exacerbated by how Gyeonghun and his son react. Gyeonghun tries to help these sinners and their families even though his own wife’s killer never received the punishment he deserved. Meanwhile, his son helps The New Truth expand its influence by murdering and framing the deaths of well-known convicts on the apparitions to prove the existence of God and legitimizing the apparitions’ actions. Other moral dilemmas later emerge such as whether the New Truth is actually bad since they are convincing the public to act like better human beings.
The Predator wrestles with similar dilemmas but hones in on violence and “divine retribution.” Many of the people who the predator kills are awful people and deserve their fate. Meanwhile, the monster is arguably transforming decent people into monsters themselves. For example, living with the predator originally forces a regular kid to lure victims to their death to spare his own life. What makes the Predator darker, however, is that the reader sees the horrible crimes of the predator’s eventual victims while the truth behind the doomed people and their perpetrations in Hellbound are hidden and left as unanswered cliffhangers. And because The Predator more closely follows the creature, readers are subjected to all of the monster’s feedings.
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