Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogathon 12: Hellblazer: Damnation's Flame

[Discussed in this post: Hellblazer: Damnation's Flame, "Damnation's Flame" (#72-75), "Act of Union" (#75), "Confessions of an Irish Rebel" (#76), and "And the Crowd Goes Wild" (#77).]

We're moving towards the end of the Ennis run we reach the five-and-a-half hour mark. Please, please, do contribute to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. It's a good cause and you'll make both myself and you feel better. (And do tell me if you contribute.)

"Damnation's Flame" has John heading to New York on a bit of a vacation. There, he draws the attention of Papa Midnite, a voodoo magician that uses his sister's soul as his window into Hell, having her report news back to him. We don't know what John's done to warrant Midnite's hatred, but he has it. Midnite sends him witchwalking in a dream/symbolic America where he encounters John Kennedy who speaks in press release-esque language, while also keeping his hand on the back of his head, so his brains won't go spilling out. They walk the landscape and John is meant to help him take back the White House from an evil Abe Lincoln that's really the First of the Fallen. John manages to get out of it with some help from Midnite's sister whose soul he frees. She goes after her brother and he jumps out a window... of a very tall building.

It's not the strongest storyarc. I think I wouldn't mind returning to it to pick it apart a little. I do like how Ennis and Dillon show us what's going on the real world with John being arrested and nearly set on fire in a homeless shelter by a bunch of fuckers. Of all Ennis's explorations of America, this is easily his weakest. By working just with symbols, he doesn't really say anything. I much prefer his earnest, heartfelt stuff with Cassidy talking about why he loves America. That's far more effective.

The final part of "Damnation's Flame" was published in #75 with another story drawn by William Simpson about John visiting Brendan and Kit back in the day. It's the first time he meets Kit and it's a great story of people hanging out. Brendan gets so drunk they need to put him to bed and we just watch them talk and get to know one another and it's a dagger. I like this story, but it's hard not to read it without knowing what happens with John and Kit. It flows well into the next issue where John's plane back to London is forced to land in Dublin and he runs into Brendan's ghost. They go out drinking and it's more 'two buddies catching up on old times' stuff. They tell stories good and bad and it's all that good male bonding stuff that Ennis writes so fucking well.

The final issue of this collection is drawn by Peter Snejbjeg and has Chas telling someone a story about a time when they all thought John was dead only for him to show up at his own funeral, all grins and snarky comments. Just as he finishes, John shows up again and the two make up. You don't really get more of Ennis's great male bonding over drinks stuff. He just does it so well. I don't know how to describe it. I could read hundreds of those stories. It gives you the idea that Ennis himself is a great guy to hang out with. These last three stories are good ways to wind down the run before hitting the Big Arc with "Rake at the Gates of Hell" where everything between John and the First of the Fallen comes to a head.

But that's in 30 minutes time...

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]