Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogathon 45: Hellblazer #250

[Discussed in this issue: "Happy New Fucking Year," "Christmas Cards," "All I Goat for Christmas," "The Curse of Christmas," and "Snow Had Fallen" (Hellblazer #250).]

The final discussion of an actual Hellblazer comic specifically... This issue is an anthology issue with all of the stories revolving around the holiday season. I'll do these one story at a time...

"Happy New Fucking Year" by Dave Gibbons and Sean Phillips: John is asked to get back the Scythe of Osiris for the English Museum on New Year's Eve. Turns out the guy who stole is going to use to kill a baby and get immortality or something. John stops him by stealing a champagne bottle and giving him a swift kick to the balls. Nothing really wrong with this story. It's got Sean Phillips on art after all. Gibbons throws in a great joke where the saved baby's name turns out to be Brooklyn and John, of course, thinks the kid may have been better off with scythe.

"Christmas Cards" by Jamie Delano and David Lloyd: John goes to a bar to watch a poker game (he's not allowed to play). Chas gets tapped out and it comes down to two guys: a bald thug of a man and this old guy that we learn is in town trying to bring his daughter back home. She's had drug problems and he needs the money to buy her from her pimp. At the end, despite owing money and not usually having much of a conscience, something makes the thug lay down four queens and let the old guy have the pot. It's a sweet little story. I have no idea if John was meant to have done something. David Lloyd on art... shit, he gets across the emotion so well. I love the pencil crayon look of his colours.

"All I Goat for Christmas" by Brian Azzarello and Rafael Grampá: This is a weird one. It's a poem about John being hired by a bunch of Cubs fans to break a curse involving a goat. John does it by turning a goat into a demon goat of sorts and the people in the bar have to eat it to break the curse. Azzarello's poem has a good rhythm. Short lines, lots of rhyme... and art by Rafael Grampá. Grampá's line work is fairly unique. A little odd, but intricate and detailed, but also highly idiosyncratic. It tells more of the story than the poem. I don't mind Azzarello returning to the character for something like this. It's so out there and weird that it seem divorced from his run on the title.

"The Curse of Christmas" by Peter Milligan and Eddie Campbell: The ghost of an MP who died under mysterious circumstances the previous Christmas at the same time as two others wants John to figure out how he died. Turns out it was in the Queen's Christmas address. The guy who wrote it's wife slipped the spell in to help him rise through the ranks quicker. John doesn't do anything to them, seeming to think that being married to one another is punishment enough. Cynical and funny. Eddie Campbell does the art! His John has a look of age to him, too. He mostly looks over 50 years old.

"Snow Had Fallen" by China Miéville and Giuseppe Camuncoli: This is my least favourite story of the bunch. John investigates a chemical plant accident and some strange occurances. Devils coming to children in the night after they played in some waste from a plant explosion. Turns out, though, that since the factory was refining evil, the waste was pure good -- the unnecessary bits. When the children played in it and made snow angels (thinking it was snow), they created real angels... sort of. Giuselle Camuncoli does the art and it's not often you'll hear me say that his is the weakest in a comic, but, in this case, it is. It's actually bit weak for him in general. Not up to his usual standard.

A nice little collection of short stories. None that blow my mind, but most are pretty good. I'm torn between the Delano and Milligan ones for my favourite.

In 30 minutes, I'll write a few words on the writers of Hellblazer...

[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.]