Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogathon 37: Hellblazer: Reasons to be Cheerful (Part Two)

[Discussed in this post: the second part of Hellblazer: Reasons to be Cheerful, "Cross Purpose" (#206).]

This issue has my favourite Tim Bradstreet cover of all of his Hellblazer covers:

It captures the hopelessness and regret of Chas at the end of the issue: that is a man that has destroyed his life.

Giuseppe Camuncoli does the art of the issue and it focuses on Chas after Nergal leaves him, but leaves a piece of himself behind. This sends Chas on a bit of tear, first shrugging off John and heading for home. On the way, he has sex with Maria (not knowing who she is), because she offers. He doesn't see why not. Chas has his personal outlet to do what he wants. He indulges all of his negative impulses. When he goes home, Renee confronts him over him being gone and, when she won't leave him alone, he hits her. He's never done that before. He hits a stripclub, but can't get drunk. He runs into Maria outside and they talk, Chas seemingly calming down a little and he gets through to her somewhat, making her rethink what she and her brothers have been doing: her life was a dream, not real... that's fucked up. She also senses something in Chas and removes the piece Nergal left behind of himself. Chas goes home and Renee won't have anything to do with him. The worst part, though, is that everything he did was already inside him. It wasn't Nergal's deserve to hit Renee, it was his. This issue will have lasting effects on John and Chas's relationship as Mike Carey didn't kill Chas, but effectively destroyed his life.

Camuncoli is the perfect artist. He does that savage, crazed face better than anyone. I've talked about this before. He nails that look. Chas is a man possessed (kind of) and looks like it.

Carey shows himself to be something of a cruel writer here. He isn't afraid to break some things. When people criticise his run, I don't really know what they don't like. Some parts aren't great obviously, but issues like this and #200? They're fantastic stuff. The way he tears things down with such emotion and precision. And it's not tearing it down just to tear it down. It makes sense and feels earned.

In 30 minutes, we begin the final trade of Carey's run as John and Nergal go to Hell...

[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.]