Thursday, June 9, 2016

Constantine: The Hellblazer #13 Review and **SPOILERS**

Supply-Side Demonomics

Written By: Ming Doyle & James Tynion IV
Art By: Eryk Donovan, Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters By: Tom Napolitano
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: June 8, 2016


Allow me to impart some advice to my younger readers, around thirteen years or younger: for one thing, don’t tell your mom that you’re reading this website. For another thing, make sure to learn mathematics, even if you think it’s boring. Especially if you think it’s boring. Because chances are that when you grow up, you’re going to need it. You might not necessarily have to find the cosine of a wave or whatever, but you will likely have to calculate percentages, or use some basic algebra, or even apply logic to accomplish the boring parts of your life. I thought I was going to be some vagabond journalist, exchanging words for cash that I would then spend on the mind-altering substances that are known as “writer’s fuel.” Turns out my job involves so much freaking math that you’d think I was on the Manhattan Project. If you’ve already got a proclivity towards mathematics and the sciences, well you’re probably going to patent some circuit or ergonomic cell phone adapter design that will make you a millionaire by the time you’re thirty. But if you’re some goofball kid reading comic books and MAD Magazines, watching crummy 1950s drive-in movies and laughing unnaturally at classic sitcoms, and if you look up to comedy pratfall masters like John Ritter and Chevy Chase, then you should apply yourself to being proficient in math. I mean, even Constantine had to learn basic economics for this issue, and he’s a chain-smoking, alcoholic magician. How does John use math in the final issue of Constantine: The Hellblazer? Take a look! It’s in a book! Or, more specifically, in my review.

Explain It!

We ended last issue with John Constantine enlisting the aid of Zatanna, Deadman, and Swamp Thing in ousting the yuppie demon Neron from New York City. Well, now we open with the applicable ritual; some forbidden, ancient magic that went out of style before Go-Go boots were in fashion. His pals from the defunct Justice League Dark help from their own domains: Zatanna is in her candle shop; Deadman seems to be in a subway for some reason; Swamp Thing is in, uh, the swamp (and makes a pentagram out of sticks for the occasion); and…I think that’s Voodoo doing some tai chi in between some shelves at a library? Was she in the last issue? Maybe she just saw the Mage Signal and heeded its call to action. Anyway, whatever they’ve done works because it gives John some kind of magicky control over the denizens of New York City, and he didn’t even have to put in a bunch of unnecessary bike lanes and traffic plazas. Papa Midnite feels John’s influence over the Big Apple, and runs to his boss Neron to warn him that he’s going to say “I told you so,” and then says, “I told you so.” Neron is pissed off and glowy-eyed at first, but then the cutest little demon in a sports jacket runs up to say something has happened to the souls of New York! And it’s not gentrification this time!

Constantine looks spent and bloody after having performed his rite, but he’s also looking pretty self-satisfied when Neron appears to him with a real bug up his butt. See, John was barred from using magic directly against Neron last issue using a loophole in Magick Law, but he was able to circumvent that by attacking the citizens of New York with magic instead. You see that kids? Even the fantastical world of arcane miracles and wonders is bogged down with bureaucracy and legalese. What Constantine did to New Yorkers is made them boring, and therefore reduced the value of their souls and thusly Neron’s holding. So wait, the value of a soul is determined by how interesting its vessel is? What does that make my soul worth, three cents? I bet Prince’s soul is worth billions. His hellish fortune sunk, Neron makes a hasty deal with a broker from Fairy Land to dump the city in exchange for eternal passage through their realm, which is worth something because it’s a shortcut to the underworld strip club (there’s only one, but it’s infinitely big inside.) After Neron leaves in a huff, Constantine reveals that his spell over New York is temporary and the Naked Cowboy will be in Times Square again in a few hours. Lady Alexandriel of Fairy Land likes this deal because all of the souls they’ve got are stale and she so wants to eat some new ones, the creepy bitch, but John makes a deal for the souls of his boyfriend Oliver’s daughters to be spared because, well, fuck Bill DiBlasio.

Having saved the day, Constantine struts on over to the bar that Oliver’s been hanging out at for like four days straight to tell him that his girls have been saved. He babbles on and on about his achievement, but Oliver has to stop him and explain that he couldn’t depend on John to succeed here, so he made a deal—with Constantine’s ex-demon girlfriend and maybe nemesis Blythe! Oliver exchanged his soul for theirs, and after arranging his daughters’ transfer to their mother, is painfully sucked down into Hades by a grinning and trash-talking Blythe. This is witnessed by the two girls who, mind you, just got back from having their spirits brutally tortured down in Satan’s lair. John is pretty dejected by this, but dumps the two future goth girls off with their mother, who thanks him with a slap. In the end, Constantine decides he’s done enough damage to one city, and is moving on to a more deserving metropolis: Philadelphia! Raze that pit stain to the ground!

Though the inclusion of Zatanna and the gang seemed superfluous, and the economic theory applied was dubious at best, I enjoyed this conclusion to a pretty strong run of stories about our favorite British magician. I would have liked to see Riley Rossmo do the whole series’ interiors, but I would also like the ability to dunk in basketball and to have back all those issues of Atari Force that I sold years ago. Eryk Donovan did a capable job at the tail end of this run, and I would say this was his best issue. I don’t know that Doyle and Tynion’s time on Constantine would rank among the works of Ennis and Dillon, but in consideration of the preceding run during the New 52, it was a real good time and I enjoyed it overall.

Bits and Pieces:

You may need to consult with your satanic accountant to comprehend this issue to its fullest, but it is a good story and a nice conclusion to the series. The characterization of John Constantine as a hapless dickhead was conveyed well, and despite what seemed like unnecessary padding over the last few issues, it's been a good read. Ever stop to think that Constantine is sort of the Ziggy of the magic world? A lovable loser who always mucks things up despite his best intentions. I want to see one-panel comics of John Constantine getting peeved off at a department store's Returns counter or being mocked by God. Get on that, DC!

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  1. Liked this issue oh! and you're the one being the dick


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