Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogathon 33: Hellblazer: Stations of the Cross (Part One)

[Discussed in this post: the first part of Hellblazer: Stations of the Cross, "Ward 24" (#194) and "Out of Season" (#195-196).]

Leonardo Manco comes aboard for two issues before disappearing until the third part of #200. John can't remember who his is and what I love about what Carey does here is immediately does things to rectify the situation only for John to actively fight against it. He gets a few flashes of memory, enough to realise that he doesn't want to remember who he was. Given the option, John Constantine wouldn't choose to be John Constantine. That's genius stuff, because it's true.

Would you want to be John Constantine?

Ask yourself that. I wouldn't want to be. He's lost everything numerous times. He's constantly on the edge of death. His friends and family all die because of him. Being John Constantine sucks.

And yet reading about him is so compelling.

In the process of trying to figure out, at first, who he is, he comes across a little girl who has a burn on her hand and takes her to the hospital. There, he draws attention by saying his name is someone else's. The attention comes from the only person on the planet who remembers what happened with the beast -- and he remembers everything, including everyone's secrets. When joined, everyone's minds were one and he retains that knowledge. He's also quite insane and only notices John because the name John uses is the name of the man he just killed. From there, he notices that he doesn't know John. John wasn't linked in with everyone.

Around the same time, a hit shows up on the computer for John's identity and a doctor mentions his real name to him, which is where John remembers enough briefly to know he doesn't want the rest. But, the killer guy shows up, kills the doctor and frames John for it. So, John is on the run, the killer is hunting him, and that little girl is really Nergal's daughter. And she wants John to give herself to him for one day in exchange for his memories back. He refuses because nothing about that deal appeals to him. The killer uses his knowledge of other people's memories of John to track down Chas and threaten his family as bait for John. John manages to save the day and kill the killer, but he runs away, not wanting anything to do with his former life.

Leonardo Manco sticks around for the first two issues with Chris Brunner doing the third here. I like Brunner's style, but it doesn't mesh with Manco's at all. If you need someone to pick up for Jock? Brunner. Manco needs someone a bit different. Someone more intricate and detailed, not quite as broad-stroked and blocky. I like Brunner's art in his issue, I just don't like the way it doesn't flow from Manco's.

I really do like John not wanting his memories back. You know he'll get them back, but that makes it worse. You thought that losing his memory was a bad thing at the end of "Staring at the Wall," but it freed him... now, it's just a countdown until he's trapped as the horrible bastard John Constantine again.

In 30 minutes, we do the second part of Station of the Cross with Marcelo Frusin's last storyarc on the title...

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