Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogathon 36: Hellblazer: Reasons to be Cheerful (Part One)

[Discussed in this post: the first part of Hellblazer: Reasons to be Cheerful, "Event Horizon" (#201) and "Reasons to be Cheerful" (#202-205).]

"Event Horizon" is a forgettable little horror story. It relies on the events happening while John was out of it and him dealing with them soon thereafter, but it really breaks up the flow of things. Some junkie kids are hired to break into John's storage space and steal stuff for a guy. One pockets a bracelet with a jewel in it where anyone who touches the jewel is safe from it so long as they own it. Once they lose it or give it away, they're taken as well. All three junkie kids and the guy who hired him touch the jewel and are taken away. John never touched the jewel itself and is safe. Yeaaaaaaaaaah... moving on...

"Reasons to be Cheerful" is where you actually want to pick things up. With Maria killing Alba, the white-haired magician of this world. With John learning that the place he was living is now a stripclub, so he fucks up the guy he talks with's TV, bowels, and penis for being an asshole about it. With Saul trying to kill Map, but failing. With Adam trying to kill Clarice and everyone else at the Tate.

John's kids kick things off with a bang.

In this bit, there is something I have a problem with: Albert is Clarice's companion and is a ghost. Manco draws him inconsistently (this happened before with Frusin as well). Sometimes, he's old and sometimes he's young. What I hate even more is that he dies here. A ghost... from broken glass? How? There's no explanation. "But, but, but, it's magic glass!" Yeah, not unless they say so. That really just annoys me. Moving on...

The kids go after more people like Chas. They don't succeed in killing Chas, but, during John's attempt to save him, a rat that's been following him around possesses Chas, revealing itself to be a demon of some sort. It wants to help John stop his kids, but they need to head for Liverpool to make sure John's sister and niece are okay. Meanwhile, Saul plots against Gemma, while Adam (I believe) goes after Cheryl and Tony. Saul's plot basically involves the date rape drug, which is kind of shit, but he's also a teenage boy, so... Adam's plan has him appearing to Tony as an angel and saying God wants a sacrifice to prove his faith. John and Chas/demon rat go after Gemma first, but she's handled it. By the time they get to Cheryl and Tony's, Tony has killed her. This is where the demon comes out of Chas and reveals that he's Nergal and he and John must travel to Hell to save Cheryl's soul.

This story ups the stakes and shows how much John's kids hate him. They try to kill everyone around him and don't succeed greatly. They only manage two out of the bunch it seems. Not too impressive, but it seems as such because they haven't been stopped. All that's been in John's favour has been their competitiveness and going in turns to see who can be the most creative.

Manco's pencils are messier and more suggestive here. There's elements of the line work I discuss with David Lloyd and Richard Corben. Not fully, but in spots. I do enjoy his art.

What I love best is that this arc is just kicking things off with John and his new demon family. Things do get worse. But, next issue is a favourite of mine, and I'll discuss it in 30 minutes.

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