Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogathon 31: Hellblazer: Staring at the Wall (Part One)

[Discussed in this post: the first part of Hellblazer: Staring at the Wall, "Bred in the Bone" (#187-188).]

This is a little two-parter focusing on Gemma. It really has nothing to do with the larger story of the first half of Carey's run on the book. It does set up something that happens later in the run, in the second storyarc of the second half of the run. I think it was stuck here as a delaying tactic to allow for Marcelo Frusin to get ahead and draw all five issues of "Staring at the Wall."

In 1983, John, another magician named Ghant, and a policeman named Bentham bound a succubus to Gruinard Island after it was hunting people in a town on the shore nearby. One of John's friends was killed, Benthem wanted the killings stopped, and Ghant had his own agenda. We've seen Ghant before. He was working for Fredericks and uses something called the bone abacus for his magic. He needs to return to Gruinard to obtain a bone from the succubus body to complete it. Gemma, meanwhile, gets arrested because the cops think she's a hooker. Ghant bails her out and offers her a job. Apparently, the succubus had sex with a vampire and left a brood of children on the island that feast only on adults. Ghant uses magic to make Gemma seem younger in appearance and smell, so she can go onto the island without being fed upon. She, Ghant, and Bentham go to the island, the two men staying in the boat, while Gemma goes ashore. Bentham feels guilty over what they did, killing the mom and leaving the kids, so he's been leaving clothes and food for them all these years. At the end, Bentham tricks Ghant to going onto a little rocky bit that seems like it's its own place, but is really attached the island, meaning the kids can get them since the binding spell would be broken if two of the three stepped on the island. The kids attack Bentham and Ghant, Bentham is killed while Ghant escapes. The kids then move on.

Doug Alexander Gregory does the art and I'd like to see more of his work. It's blocky and shadowy. It's a mesh of various styles. I've no idea what else he's done. He draws John in 1983 with a goatee. Did he have one when drawn by others?

One thing Carey does that's interesting is using a lot of different narrators, all identified. That isn't something he uses at any other time in his run. It doesn't always work, but it keeps all of the story elements from being too obvious.

I'm still just a little mystified at why this two-parter is here. It allows us to see that Gemma can actually think on her feet and allows us to see what Ghant is up to, but... yeah, I don't know. Though, this won't be the most obvious place holder story of the blogathon. That honour comes later.

In 30 minutes, the big story, the culmination of the first half of Carey's run comes with "Staring at the Wall"...

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