Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogathon 28: Hellblazer: Red Sepulchre

[Discussed in this post: Hellblazer: Red Sepulchre, "High on Life" (#175-176), and "Red Sepulchre" (#177-180).]

Wait, who's that for the first two issues, "High on Life"...? Is that... Steve Dillon? Yes! John returns to England and has a beard. He almost doesn't look like John Constantine with a beard. But I like it. He at least looks middleaged. I've come to the conclusion that the only thing more difficult to draw than children is middleaged people. (And cue someone eventually pointing out that his aging is slowed or something and I'll respond with one word: Chas. Shouldn't Chas look his age, you smartass?)

John returns to England via boat, under the radar, so he doesn't have to answer any questions like "Didn't you die in prison?" "How are you alive?" and "Hey, if you're alive, shouldn't you be in prison?" He arrives in Liverpool and goes to visit his sister. She's somewhat shocked at him being alive, of course, as anyone would be. Cheryl's husband, Tony, isn't pleased to see him, but Tony is a crazy christian and should be mocked for it. Mostly because he's an idiot. It wouldn't matter what he believed in, he'd still be an idiot.

John notices something is up with the council flat that Cheryl and Tony live in; something doesn't feel right. Maybe it's the person who hung themselves off the railing when he comes in -- but that just seems a sympton of the disease. He meets a woman, Angie, who wants to help and clues him in on the idea of checking the town's registers for who moved in recently to cause this sort of change. When he does, he discovers that a woman's apartment on the top floor is surrounded by good feelings. Peace and joy. That there are magic symbols around the frame is another big tip-off. Angie, while investigating on her own, is attacked by two men who cut off some of her flesh, a similar tactic used by a serial killer... that was in London until recently, just about the time that the woman moved to Liverpool. Turns out that she's a junkie for the souls of young prostitutes. The sex and the cheap thrills. John manages to turn it around on her, but she provides some weird clue by calling him by his real name when he's using a fake one.

Another usual piece of information we learn: Gemma is apparently in France, but that doesn't seem right. Which is true, because she's in London and being held by a man named Fredericks. He wants John to find something called the Red Sepulchre, a weapon used by a sect of Indians (from India) to kill. Apparently, since it killed an ancestor of John's, he can tell what it is by touching it. Fredericks thought Gemma could, too, but John is better, obviously. John has to figure this all out and slowly learns that all of his fellow magicians in London basically sold him and his niece out. Gemma thinks Fredericks wants her because she's so talented/has so much potential, but that's not it at all. He was almost ready to kill her.

The trick is that it turns out that the Sepulchre was the drawstring of a knapsack that the man claiming to have it carried. No one paid attention to that and John uses it to take revenge. He gets into an argument with Gemma who thinks he's talking down to her (which he is... and rightfully so, in part).

One thing I enjoyed about this arc was Carey bringing back Joshua Wright as Fredericks's right-hand man. Sure, he dies, but it's a nice touch. Carey is probably the best writer of them all to use what came before as being integral to his stories. I do feel slightly cheated out of a good confrontation, but that's fine for me.

These two arcs form the beginning of the larger story that will take us through the next two trades. Carey is pretty good at building on his stories to tell self-contained ones that also serve the larger arc. The old woman was in Liverpool watching his sister's place, possibly for him. Apparently, Fredericks was trying to open three doors, the first with the Sepulchre. Why? No one knows, but I'm sure all will be revealed.

Marcelo Frusin's John Constantine has no beard, just manly stubble. And he looks much, much younger.

In 30 minutes, the first part of Black Flowers...

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