Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogathon 32: Hellblazer: Staring at the Wall (Part Two)

[Discussed in this post: the second part of Hellblazer: Staring at the Wall, "Staring at the Wall" (#189-193).]

It's the end of the world, all because John was so desperate to save it.

John calls together a group of magicians to the kill the dog that is apparently the beast that will break on through the three doors. It's broken through the second door, which allows it to possess small groups of people, causing them to do the standard Hellblazer crazy shit. They need to stop it before it can go through the third door and enter the collective unconscious of humanity. Thankfully, Jason, Angie's brother, was cured of his mental illness while possessed and knows what's going on because he overheard it from the souls possessing him. So, the plan is to trap the dog and kill it.

And they succeed.

Except the dog wasn't the problem. The dog was humanity's protector. It hunted the nameless, shapeless beast. Yes, there were reports of the dog throughout history surrounded by madness and such, but that's because that was the trail it followed to get at the beast. So, now, without the dog to stop it, the beast goes through the third door and everything is fucked.

Not that John is going to give up. He keeps formulating plans despite everyone hating him. He enlists Swamp Thing and Gemma. The beast is saving him for last. It's going through every combination of murder, rape, assault, all of it... all because he hates the children of Adam. He still resents the indignity of Adam trying to name him.

Say what you will about John Constantine: he fucks up a lot, but that only makes him try that much harder. He doesn't know the meaning of the word 'lose.' Okay, sometimes, he'll pretend like he does, but that's when other people get played. Play him and he'll do everything he can to make you eat it.

He comes up with a pretty good plan involving making himself braindead and apart from the rest of humanity as a result. Since the beast was saving him for last, his mind is now completely off-limits. From there, he plans and gives advice until the beast finds him, at which point, Swamp Thing arrives loaded up with armour made from a piece of wood from Eden. But, that's just a distraction so Gemma and Angie can hook into the collective unconscious and get the entire world dreaming of a big dog that can kill the beast. Since Adam created the first one, why couldn't all of humanity create a new one? It shows up, kills the beast, and the world is saved, albeit rather wrecked.

The story ends with no one knowing where John is. On the final page, he's walking through the wreckage and he doesn't remember anything.

Much like Ennis did in "Rake at the Gates of Hell," Carey does a great job here of making it seem like all hope is lost. He also plays off each step of the process, showing how Constantine was played and made to look at the dog instead of the beast. Even with Constantine determined, victory seemed less than sure. Each successive issue made it seem worse. After all, the beast had all of humanity under its control. All it had to do was make everyone die.

I really like the ending. It gives the idea of a price being paid: John gave up himself to save the world. There's something very cool about that idea, I think. Gemma and Angie also came through, looking like important parts of the plan. Even Chas and Swamp Thing helped.

Frusin knocked this arc out of the park. Swamp Thing's Eden wood armour is totally badass. John has a weariness and coldness in his look throughout. He's pissed and tired and not sure it will work.

Since this larger arc was a big world-threatening story, Carey wisely puts the onus on John himself with the memory loss and leads to a more personal story that's even more devestating to John.

We'll begin that in 30 minutes with the first part of Stations of the Cross...

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