Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogathon 07: Hellblazer: Bloodlines (Part Two)

[Discussed in this post: the second part of Hellblazer: Bloodlines, "Royal Blood" (#52-55).]

After a one-issue fill-in that I've never read (and hasn't been collected anywhere), Ennis and Simpson return for the four-part "Royal Blood" storyarc, which has John on the trail of a member of the royal family who is possessed by a demon and is loose in London. It's heavily implied that the royal in question is Prince Charles, but that's never outright stated because... well, you just don't outright state that sort of thing, I guess. John is approached by a name by the name of Marston, a stuckup man of power and influence that wants John's help in capturing the possessed Prince and, presumably, exorcising the demon. That part of the story is fairly cut and dry with some bits of intrigue here and there with the Prince's brother trying to get Constantine to make sure the Prince doesn't survive and his brother is one step closer to the throne. John also gets to visit a special club for the wealthy and powerful where they do all of the nasty things that allow them to bear the weight of the world on their shoulders. John has some fun with the snobby folks there, lording over how needed he is... and how much he looks down on these people who should be looking down on him.

There are a few interesting tidbits that pop up like this demon is the same that possessed Jack the Ripper apparently. We also meet Nigel, a socialist psychic that John uses to help figure out which demon it is so he can track it/capture it. Nigel is a fun character with his cowardly ways and constant frustration at John's mockery. Also, Marston purposely had the Prince possessed in an effort to put a strong ruler on the throne, someone that would restore the United Kingdom's position in the world, causing John to make sure that Marston doesn't walk away.

All in all, it's a good horror story with a lot of good scenes between John and Marston. Two characters that don't get along and push one another's buttons well. Throughout the arc, Ennis gives us a few scenes with Kit as she asks John to move in with her, but, on the condition that his other life never impacts her. That's an important detail... I imagine you can guess why.

Simpson has some fun with the gruesome aspects of this arc, really nailing the dark, brutality of what happens. His art is sketchier here with a little more liberal use of the inks, giving the issues a darker, messier feeling/look. The more I look through these issues, the more I really admire his facial expressions. He absolutely nails John's looks and reactions. His John isn't a cold, calm guy a lot of the time. He's expressive and human. Then again, it's still very early into his life and career by the standard of the ongoing series. Some artists draw him as a much harder, colder guy and that fits where he is then, but it's nice to see him smile and get angry and look sad and horrified. Ennis writes a very human John Constantine and Simpson draws one.

I enjoyed this arc. Ennis clearly had fun with the Prince Charles stuff and throwing in some Jack the Ripper bullshit worked. This was one of those rare stories where John gets to be a bastard and doesn't pay a big price. Then again, that's more the case when he's cleaning up other people's messes instead of his own.

In 30 minutes, we'll conclude Bloodlines with three issues about angels and demons...

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