Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogathon 19: Hellblazer: Shoot and Planetary #7

[Discussed in this post: "Shoot" (Hellblazer #141, unpublished for now, and "To Be in England, in the Summertime" (Planetary #7).]

Warren Ellis quit Hellblazer in July of 1999 because of an unpublished issue entitled "Shoot." You can read his explanation as well as the solicitation for "Shoot" here. But, if you're too lazy, here's the story: "Shoot" is about school shootings, was written before the shoots at Columbine, was going to be released shortly thereafter, DC didn't like that, Ellis wouldn't change it, throw in some other editorial interference (read Frank Teran's comments to my Art Discussion Month post on "Locked" for another example), and Ellis left, preferring to walk away than to be in a situation where he didn't feel comfortable. Makes sense to me.

But, there is good news, people: yesterday, it was announced that "Shoot" will be published in October as part of 96-page special featuring some short stories from Vertigo anthologies most forgotten. Because of that, I won't be linking directly to "Shoot" online (but if you're that desperate, you can find it yourself). It's there in black and white and has been for some time. I've always thought "Shoot" was a solid issue, but not the brilliance that others like to proclaim it -- which I imagine comes from it being banned/unpublished. The minute that happens, people like to call the work in question the best thing ever when, really, "Shoot" is a different sort of horror story that falls in line with "Locked," "The Crib" and "Setting Sun" with the horrible things people do to one another.

It does take a different approach, though. It's partly the horrific things the kids do to another, killing one another. But, it's also the horrific things that led to them killing one another: society has fucked these kids up through inattention and a lack of true love and by pawning them off on TV and daycare and video games. It's not that those things make them do it; they don't get the ideas there... they get the ideas from what's not there. The end of the issue is just one big rant. That makes it stand out somewhat from the other issues of Ellis's run since that seems more like the sort of thing you would have seen in Transmetropolitan at the time.

You may have noticed that I also said I'd be discussing Planetary #7 a little. That's only because the plot revolves around the death of Jack Carter, an English magician. There's even a flashback to one of his adventures in 1987 done in the same style/look as Ellis's run on the title with the narration shoved to the gutters. The style of the narration isn't quite the same, though. It seems a little more old fashioned, like Ellis is trying to write like Moore or Delano maybe. I love that idea: using his technique for storytelling, but using the prose style of those that came before. It's not much of a story, just a quick five-pager where he encounters a civil servant who's invisible/intangible that's this year's Herod -- kill the firstborn in case it turns out to be Christ coming back. Jack traps him in an invisible box of sorts around a signpost.

The larger story has Jack Carter responsible for 'Marvelman' becoming a sick, twisted freak. Carter faked his death to get away and, at the end, becomes Spider Jerusalem thanks to John Cassaday giving him the tattoos and even copying a couple of poses. Basically: Alan Moore is John Constantine and he ruined superheroes, but now Alan Moore has become Warren Ellis who doesn't give a shit about them at all and he's moved on to do his own thing. A horrible oversimplification and I'm sure Tim will have much more to say on the subject when we all read his essay about it.

I will say that there is one big positive of Warren Ellis leaving Hellblazer when he did: Brian Azzarello coming on board.

We begin that little journey in 30 minutes with Hard Time...

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