Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogathon 22: Hellblazer: Freezes Over (Part One)

[Discussed in this post: the first part of Hellblazer: Freezes Over, "...And Buried" (#157) and "...Freezes Over" (#158-161).]

Another slightly awkward divide of a trade, but whatever...

"...And Buried" features Steve Dillon returning to the book for an issue. It's a somewhat nothing issue. Maybe I'm missing the larger point and it's key, but there are two elements: a group of guys worried that someone they killed is actually alive and will be taking revenge; John meets Agent Turro to discuss what John's to do next. The former has that fun horror feel to it as the three guys sit around a table in a bar and freak one another out more and more. First, there's a picture of the guy with a new tattoo on his hand, then his wife killed herself, then other people close to him or his death killed themselves, and then a postcard from Sierra Leone (where the picture was taken) arrives saying "See you soon." The issue ends with him apparently entering the bar if we're to believe the tattoo on the hand that opens the door just as John and Turro are leaving. The curious thing: we never see the apparent dead man's face. Since I've never read 100 Bullets, I've always wondered if this tied into that somewhat, even thematically.

The conversation between John and Turro leaves me thinking that there's got to be more to it. Then again, there's another issue involving these two that has a similar lack of substance in their discussion. It's filled with insults and barbs, and hints that Turro is in an incestual relationship with his sister. Turro points John in the direction of Highwater, saying he has unfinished business there. He also hints that SW Manor is behind John's troubles.

There's actually one bit that I really like, though:

Turro: Right. Like I was saying, you being such a smart arse, I bet you can't help pissing people off. I'd even go as far to say you like doing it. Hell, it might even be the point.

John: To what?

Turro: To every fucking thing you do.

There's part of me that wants to say that sums up John Constantine.

Steve Dillon drawing the issue is a lovely bonus. His John does look older than he did when Dillon was on the book with Ennis. Since this issue is just people talking in a bar, can you think of someone better than Steve Dillon to draw it? If the answer is 'yes,' then you're just fucking wrong.

"...Freezes Over" is a a mishmash of genres with a mystery involving a small group of suspects in a remote, closed off location meeting a heist gone wrong meeting an urban legend. It's a weird mix of these elements when John happens upon a bar during a heavy blizzard that's shut down the roads. A few of the local regulars are in there along with the owner and his Asian wife that he ordered out of a catalogue. Soon, a family shows up and, soon thereafter, a dead body is found outside, a giant icicle ran through him. John saw the man earlier in his car, looking very tense. And, soon after the body is discovered, three men show up who we learn were involved in an armed robbery that resulted in one of them getting shot. John is the mysterious guy who talks all creepy and everyone suspects is the murderer despite him looking like a small nothing.

Azzarello and Frusin set the mood masterfully, playing up John's creepiness. One thing I really like is how John talks two men into dying/killing themselves. The first is the man with the icicle ran through him. He was a serial killer that John convinces is missing out by not being the victim. That fuels the myth of the Iceman, a killer/legeand from those parts. He also talks the shot robber into dying by explaining what he did to the 'Iceman.' More than that, he convinces a local to play the role of the Iceman to fuel the legend. The power of words, folks. That's all John uses here: words. I love it.

In 30 minutes, we'll do the other part of Freezes Over with "Lapdogs and Englishmen"...

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