Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogathon 35: Hellblazer: Stations of the Cross (Part Three)

[Discussed in this post: the third part of Hellblazer: Stations of the Cross, "Happy Families" (#200).]

Mike Carey does a special thing for the 200th issue of Hellblazer: he gives us three 'what if' stories of a sort and introduces us to John Constantine's three children with Rosacarnis. This is the day that lasts 40 years...

First up, we have Steve Dillon drawing a story where John married Kit and has a five-year old son. He gave up magic and is now a regular hustler. He's over his head a little. But something isn't right with his son, Adam. His daycare teacher/babysitter dies. The kid is creepy. But, it's John and Kit's fifth anniversary, so they leave him at home with Chas's granddaughter to babysit. John realises something is wrong by the way Kit is acting and rushes home to find that Adam has killed Tricia. He even killed the gangster John owed money to. Kit is really Rosacarnis and this is just the first little bit of his day.

Second up, we have Marcelo Frusin doing John married to Zed and older. They have a teenaged son and he's retired from magic, leaving it to Gemma. His son, Saul, shows a lot of promise, but something, again, isn't right. Abbey Cable was found dead in Scotland. Gemma nearly kills herself to let him know something isn't right -- Saul is torturing the green. John breaks into the greenhouse and finds Swamp Thing at the centre, captured and tortured by Saul. Saul finds John there and attacks him, revealing that he experimented upon himself first, existing as part plant himself. He begins to drown John and

John wakes up being drawn by Leonardo Manco. He's married to Angie and looks his age basically. He has a 14-year old daughter, Maria. She's been expelled from school and John doesn't know where the time has gone really... or what's happening. He follows her and her friends to find them torturing a man. John can't stop her. That's when Rosacranis and the other two kids arrive and she reveals her plan was to breed three children with him, all raised by him and able to outthink him, because they know how he operates. She reveals herself as Nergal's daughter and that she took only a day, his consent being important then and continuing. Now, she's going to let him watch as they rape the world.

It ends with John back to his old self, partly thrown off by his 40 years of memories that didn't actually happen. But also ready to take them on if need be.

I love what Carey does here, beginning with Steve Dillon drawing Kit and John married. This is what people wanted! This is what Kit wanted! This is what John wanted! This is what I wanted! And even if you ignore the Adam being evil stuff, the life isn't that great. Without magic, John isn't himself, can't operate as well. Carey makes the argument for why John giving it up for Kit wouldn't work even if it meant the end of the series and we accept that. John is John and taking away part of that weakens the whole.

The second bit with Zed doesn't work as well for me only because I missed all of Zed. I can't tell if Carey plays with that relationship much with Saul. I will say that there's something very disturbing about the little shit torturing the green and being part plant.

More than any, the last one is John's worst nightmare: he's old, balding, out of shape, not with it, and his daughter is a teenage socipath who dresses like a slut. Wait -- isn't that everyone's worst nightmare?

This is a deeply personal horror issue. This all ties into John's personal issues and past. This isn't 'save the world' horror or even save anyone else... this is him living through the horrors of Rosacarnis's kids because he said he would.

I also love the use of the three artists: past, present, future.

In 30 minutes, we begin to see what happens now that John has three kids that know magic, know him, and are deadset on fucking shit up...

[Don't forget to donate what you can to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! After you do, let me know via comment or e-mail (found at the righthand side) so I can keep track of donations -- and who to thank.]