Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogathon 27: Hellblazer: All His Engines

[Discussed in this post: Hellblazer: All His Engines.]

Alright, I know, this graphic novel didn't come out until January 2005, while Carey's run on the book started on June 26, 2002, but that would mean doing this graphic novel around #204, which came out in the same month as it. And, believe it or not, but once Carey's run gets going, it's pretty much all one story that flow from one arc to the next. So I either do it before or I do it after... except OH WAIT! Denise Mina's run flows right out of Carey's, so before it is. Deal with it.

Some people really like All His Engines and I can see why. It's got everything a John Constantine story should have: demons with more power than John, Chas, a child in distress, multiple women who hate John, and lots of risking more than he can afford to lose. But, in that way, it seems almost like Carey's trying too hard to create a story that has everything that a John Constantine story should have if you catch my drift. It stinks of effort. Of trying to make a perfectly accessible graphic novel that sums up Hellblazer for anyone who doesn't know just in time for Constantine to come out in theatres.

It's not that I don't like All His Engines, I just don't care. I don't. I can't explain why. The plot is: some demon has stolen the souls of children, including Chas's granddaughter, so John has to go to LA (with Chas in tow) to get Tricia's soul back. But, that was part of the demon's plan. He's trying to set up a local version of Hell in LA and wants John to help get rid of the local death god, an Aztec one from way back. In the process of trying to sort it out, it goes south when the two simply set up a deal where the Aztec god is given one in ten souls as tribute and it looks like all is lost. Until John comes up with another plan that ends with John gambling with Tricia's life... and it pays off.

Maybe it's because I'm used to seeing these things play out over a period of six or twelve issues, this doesn't work. It's so obvious in its structure and what happens. For me at least. And, I will say this, before people assume I just hate Carey's run, rereading it this time, I really enjoyed it (to a point... a point in the run, that is). This graphic novel just does nothing for me.

Leonardo Manco makes his first appearance for us in the blogathon, but he'll become the regular artist of Hellblazer with #194. He's got a good, dark style. If you've seen his work on the Darque mini-series (unless it was actually title something different) from Valiant (take two) with the one-shot and then the four-issue mini, you'll see that he does a great dark, Hellish sort of thing. His art is intricate and has photorealistic elements without seeming traced or stuff. I love his Aztec deathgod here. Not as big a fan of his John Constantine, because he looks too young. Same with Chas. This story takes place in 2004... John is 51. He looks 32.

In 30 minutes, I'll begin Carey's run proper with Red Sepulchre...

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