Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogathon 23: Hellblazer: Freezes Over (Part Two)

[Discussed in this post: the second part of Hellblazer: Freezes Over, "Lapdogs and Englishmen" (#162-163).]

Joining Brian Azzarello for this two-parter is Guy Davis, artist extraordinaire. Going back to July of 1978, we learn of the first time that John met SW Manor... or, Stanley as he's called. This is back when John was still with Mucous Membrane and he's hired to steal Rasputin's Clock for Manor. The clock can apparently predict the future (how a clock does that is beyond me... except for telling you what time it will be at some point in the future). John does up a fake clock, sells him a story about someone named the Arab owning it, and then puts on a show with Chas and another friend to sell the idea that the Arab had found them out, sending Manor off into the night scared and not thinking about checking over the clock at all.

This story is absolutely essential and key to Azzarello's run. Want to know why Manor would possibly be behind John's worries? Here you go. As we've previously established via Lucky, Manor doesn't take kindly to being scammed. He's an insanely wealthy American industrialist and he has the resources to seriously fuck with people. When we first see him, he's boxing. He doesn't drink. And he's apparently attracted to John, kissing him when he leaves with the clock -- gently and sweetly, on his mouth. It doesn't mean a lot yet, but it will... it will also give John the necessary information to strike back at Manor when the time comes.

There's also a subplot involving a friend (or someone who fancies John, but he doesn't care for) named Angie White. She's found a book that can predict the future. You simply say the name of the person whose life you want to read about and it gives you their life. In the end, she's killed by a mysterious person. I've never been clear on who that's supposed to be. Is it meant to be Manor? If so, how does he know about her and the part he plays in John's life? If not, who is it meant to be? Is it a reference to a story I haven't read? If someone has a clue, fill me in. I don't think it's Manor, because that wouldn't fit with anything else in the story.

Guy Davis on art suits the story. He has a style that evokes the past, even something as close as the late '70s, but there's also a sketchy energy to his line work that plays into John's punk sensibilities. There's a nervous energy in his line work, too. It doesn't seem content to sit still his art... So far, Azzarello has a pretty strong group of artists for his run, something that carries on through to the end.

In 30 minutes, we deal with the first part of Highwater, which is the eponymous storyline...

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