Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogathon 34: Hellblazer: Stations of the Cross (Part Two)

[Discussed in this post: the second part of Hellblazer: Station of the Cross, "Stations of the Cross" (#197-199).]

The story so far: John Constantine doesn't remember who he is and he doesn't want to remember who he is. Nergal's daughter, Rosacarnis wants John for a day and keeps trying to get him to accept her offer to return his memory. She'd probably have better luck if she said that he had to be in her service for a day or else she'd return his memory... then again, she needs him to remember who he is as we'll see shortly (not right now, though).

This story focuses on a weird church that sends out hot young women to pick up homeless people and bring them back. Frusin has some much fun with the opening scene in the rain. These two overexaggerated girls, the bundled up, confused teen sitting on the street... it's a thing of beauty. But, of course, something isn't right with this church. When John is brought there, he can sense and it and it isn't until he's brought to the prophet that he knows: the prophet is Ghant (who he doesn't remember) and Ghant has plans for John. He has him bound and chained and sets up an auction for his soul. As a result of his bone abacus being destroyed, the souls it contained fled to his body, leaving his chest full of little mouths that sometimes prophesise... which helps in setting up your own church. One of the girls helps John attempt an escape, but they just run to the chamber where Ghant has a bunch of demons waiting to bid on John's soul. Things go south there when the First of the Fallen shows up and isn't convinced that it's John since he doesn't act like John. John and the girl flee, only to be caught by the members of the church. They're then burned at the stake with Rosacarnis appearing before John, offering to save him if she'll accept his offer. He does. And so begins the longest day of his life.

Frusin's final storyarc (he does a part of #200) is a great use of his talents. Creepy church cult, chase scenes, a roomful of demons, cute girls... it's all shadows and mood. Frusin isn't the best at facial expressions always, only nailing a few of them, but the confused look of the teenage boy at the beginning of the first issue is great. Head tilted slightly, eyes wide, a pure "Are you fucking kidding me?" look. He can't believe it.

John can't escape himself or his past. He can forget it, but it doesn't forget him. He may as well be himself, because at least then he's prepared for what's coming. Of course, he doesn't have much of a choice: burn at the stake or become himself again... tough call. Seriously. He rejects Rosacarnis's offer at first. He seems ready to die instead, recognising that as the better of two options. I almost wish he had died because that could have been an interesting story: John not knowing who he is arriving in Hell or wherever, various parties laying claim to his soul and him not knowing what's going on.

But, what happens here sets up the excellent 200th issue of the series, which I'll talk about in 30 minutes...

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