Thursday, March 10, 2016

Constantine: The Hellblazer #10 Review and **SPOILERS**

The High Price of Living Low

Written By: Ming Doyle & James Tynion IV
Art By: Travel Foreman, Joseph Silver, Ivan Plascencia
Letters By: Tom Napolitano
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: March 9, 2016

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

In 1983, I watched David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear live on prime time television. He had an audience set up on a bunch of bleachers and helicopters were flying around, shining spotlights on the shrouded Lady. I don’t actually remember the trick happening, but I do recall asking my parents how he did it. “Mirrors,” they almost simultaneously replied, as if that was a satisfactory explanation. So if I just plop a mirror down next to a statue, it’s going to vanish? Did the statue go into the mirror somehow? I never figured it out, and I don’t think I want to; magic is lame when it’s explained. But comics don’t get lame when they’re explained, do they? No, they get way crazier! Let’s get crazy, huh? Read on if you believe in maagiic!

Explain It!:

You’ll recall that last issue, John Constantine played Ditch the Sitch on Papa Midnite and his ex-demonfriend Blythe when he stepped through a portal from Hell to what he thought was modern New York City, but instead found himself in Faerie Land. Well, Faerie Land is a really cool-looking place, but it is not very nice. John ruminates on the stories he’d heard from bad-ass demons that told him to steer clear of the Fey. We observe a unicorn, placidly sipping from a still pond, when from this pond emerges a gross-looking fairy…er, faerie, who slits the unicorn’s throat and then bathes in its rainbow blood. A bunch of other faeries come over and they have a righteous blood orgy in what looks like a lot of Skittles dye runoff. I don’t see what the problem is here? These fairies…um, faeries seem like awesome party animals! Look, I’m sorry everyone. I want to say “FARE-ee” but when I see it spelled all Olde Englysshe-like my mind says “FAY-ray.” So I’m going to stick with the Americanized version, but know that it was spelled the outdated way in the book, okay?

John doesn’t want to party with the fairies, who are now setting up a rave, so he tries to stealthily slink away, but some fairies use super fairy magic to rapidly grow some flowers and grasses around Constantine and ensnare him. We find out that demonic douchebag Lord Neron has threatened the fairies with disruption if they don’t find and hand over Constantine. Is this what Hell has come to? He’s going to threaten to disrupt their rave? Whatever happened to raining hellfire on the writhing forms of tortured sinners?! In any case, John is found so everyone scrams to the phone booths so they can be the first to call Neron, leaving behind a waifish fairy named Flutterbee. John just flatly convinces the poor dope to take him to New York and, upon arrival, snaps his neck. That’s it. I was settling into a whole Fairy Land adventure, but it turned out to be a minor inconvenience for John. That was sort of a letdown.

Back in New York City, Neron is totally Donald Trump, like he’s got a hairstyle more reminiscent of Trump and there are even sound bites from Trump peppered throughout Neron’s speech. What he’s saying, however, is much more formal Michael Bloomberg: the denizens of Hell should squeeze out polite society and turn the Big Apple into a nightmarish hellscape. Which probably has something to do with why James Tynion IV moved to Los Angeles. John goes over to Papa Midnite’s pad in Brooklyn to retrieve Oliver, who is being held by the rooster-headed snake, but has not been poisoned like Papa claimed he had been. They race over to Oliver’s house where his two young daughters have been unsupervised for hours and…oh god, the end of this just drags on and on. John tells Oliver to get out of the city and forget him. Oliver says he wants to stay and help. John says he’s bad news. Oliver says he loves to read bad news. Blah, blah, blah, it goes on and on and eventually John just walks away like he should have from the outset. While Constantine hangs out in front of Neron’s club wearing an awesome bubble jacket and a “Crooklyn” cap, which is also awesome by the way, Oliver sets up a baby sitter for his girls so he can run over the boyfriend who jilted him. Didn’t win your Parenting Badge in Cub Scouts, huh? Oliver takes off and the shot pans out to reveal that the babysitter is none other than Blythe! I think.
Did we lose an issue here? Level with me. We lost an issue, didn’t we? Because I felt like Fairy Land should have been at least one complete issue, particularly the great way it was rendered by Travel Foreman and his team. Since my love for Riley Rossmo’s art is well-documented, I was a little cranky to see an interloper on the book—but Foreman is a good artist, with a chunky, spooky style all his own. I would have liked to see more of Fairy Land under his pencil, maybe learn more of its societal structure and culture. Perhaps we’ll return someday? Beyond the Fairy Land bit, this story was pretty much a dud. I was glad to see Oliver rescued, but that back-and-forth just went back and forth too many times to keep my interest. And Oliver chasing John right after he’d been away from his daughters for over a day didn’t seem correct to the character, though for all I know he could be a really crappy dad.

Bits and Pieces

Despite Travel Forman filling in on art for the worshipful Riley Rossmo, I was able to get into his style as the book went along and very much appreciated his clean lines in Fairy Land. Unfortunately, Fairy Land turned out to be more of a waylay, John got all sulky and resolute, and then he and Oliver fight about who is more self-sacrificing for like four pages. Eh. Still interested in seeing Papa Midnite take his club back from Neron, though.


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