Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogathon 15: Hellblazer #85-89

[Discussed in this post: "Warped Notions" Hellblazer #85-88, and "Dreamtime" (#89).]

After Ennis left the book, there were five issues between regular writers. #84 was a Jamie Delano issue discussed several hours ago, while issues #85-88 was a four-issue arc written by Eddie Campbell. Now, I could write about those issues again or I could simply direct you to my reread review of the arc over at Comics Should be Good. I don't have anything new to add really and I'm not going to do any better under the half hour time contraint.

Since I own the issue, I'll also briefly touch on the first issue of Paul Jenkins's run on the book. First off, it's a shame that this run hasn't been collected. I hope Vertigo gets around to it soon since Hellblazer needs to have a complete library, don't you think? That would be absolutely wonderful I must say. I've heard some mixed things about the run, but, come on... it's Hellblazer.

Jenkins picks up where Campbell's story left off, with John on a boat near Australia. He gets off the boat, goes with an aborigonal Australian because they need his help: because of white folks encroaching on more of the land in Australia, the rainbow serpent is making all of the animals kill themselves. They need John to help stop what's going to happen, so he enters the dreamtime to sing to the serpent. It's a bit out of John's element and has him acting somewhat naive/not as in the know as he usually is. It's a fine first issue and Sean Phillips on art is a thing to behold.

Since I have a little bit of free time thanks to being lazy about these two stories, I want to talk a little about John Constantine...

Who is he?

I'll tell you right now that I don't know. I have a big stack of his comics on my table and I couldn't really tell you because each writer handles him differently. I didn't read enough Delano to really tell how he does him, but Ennis treats him as a flawed guy. He means well, but he can't help but be self-centred and selfish. He doesn't think things through always, sometimes acting rashly. But, going beyond that idea, who is John Constantine? What are the essential qualities that make him him?

He's a schemer. He's an addict. He uses people. He hates authority figures. He's selfish. He thinks himself the best at what he does. He has little use for other magicians unless he actually needs something. He will do almost anything for a friend when asked. He forgets that his actions have consequences for people who aren't him. He loves cigarettes. What else?

I just wonder how much about John Constantine is set in stone and how much is maleable. I guess we'll see as we move past Ennis into Ellis, Azzarello, and Carey. But, first, we've got a bit of Ennis left as almost everyone who ever writes the book for an extended run returns somehow.

In 30 minutes, Son of Man aka 'Ennis's Revenge'...

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