Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogathon 16: Hellblazer: Son of Man

[Discussed in this post: Hellblazer: Son of Man (#129-133).]

I don't hate this arc the way that others do. But I don't blame them for not thinking much of it. It's a fine, mediocre, solid sort of story, but it's also Garth Ennis returning the book that made his name to a certain degree after four years. During that time, Ennis's run only grew in esteem thanks to Preacher and Hitman. And Son of Man isn't exactly the kind of writing that makes you coming back look like it's because you were just itching to tell this one more story.

The story is pretty simple: years ago, John was forced to bring a mobster's son back from the dead, but did it by putting a demon inside the body. Now, it's going to take over the mob and London and John has to stop it, while also helping out Chas in the process. Like I said, it's fine. It's not bad by any means, it just doesn't hold up to what came before -- or, more accurately, what people remember as having come before. This arc doesn't just have to contend with Ennis's run, it has to contend with the legend of Ennis's run.

I like how it has something from John's past coming back to haunt him like this. There's a real grounded feeling to the story, of John and Chas getting together and making shit right. I like how the demon that comes forth looks like the alien from Alien. I love how John Higgins draws John Constantine as if he actually resembles his age. He looks like a 45-year old that's lived the sort of life that he has. He's got a lived-in quality to his face. I also like the creepiness of the kid as he freaks out his father and uncle. He's a creepy little bastard running the show because everyone is scared of him.

It's interesting to notice which writers haven't returned to the character since leaving the book: Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis, Denise Mina, and Andy Diggle are the only ones who did runs longer than a single story that haven't come back. Delano, Ennis, Azzarello, Carey all did more... though, there's still time for the others. After all, Diggle's run was the one just before the current Milligan run, while Mina was just before that. Then again, I don't see Mina coming back. The other three could maybe.

But, that leaves us with the question: is it wrong to come back? Son of Man isn't awful, nor is the stuff that other three regular writers returned to do. But there's this idea of leaving on that high note and never returning. Ennis left on a high note. So does Carey and Azzarello. I wonder what people would think if Jenkins or Ellis returned to the book. I imagine Ellis returning would be seen more as a homecoming, a chance to finish what he started than a return after he walked away satisfying readers. How about Jenkins? Would people mind if he returned for another story?

If you look at Son of Man as another John Constantine story, you see that it's funny and entertaining. Not high stakes, not lifechanging or mindblowing, but it's solid. Then again, I read it before the rest of the Ennis run, so maybe I've just got it all backwards.

In 30 minutes, we enter Ellis country...

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