Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Hellblazer #1 Review and **SPOILERS**

Justice League Dark Trinity

Written By: Simon Oliver
Art By: Moritat, Andre Szymanowicz
Lettered By: Sal Cipriano
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: August 24, 2016


The Old Testament attributes the first murder to the fratricide of Cain by Abel, who, if I am understanding Bronze Age DC horror comics correctly, were a couple of weird-haired brothers that lived next door to one another and told strange stories of varying quality. Point is, I don’t think that was the first murder, not if you define it as an act of jealousy or revenge. Because you know the first caveman that invented the wheel got stabbed in the face for acting all high and mighty about it. It was the first car jacking, just by quarters. And why do you think cavemen dragged their women around by their bone-wrapped hairdos? They were being kidnapped! Yes, I do get all of my information about prehistoric mankind from comic strips and cartoons, why do you ask? I’ll have you know I also review the Flintstones comic book on this very site! The nerve of some people! But there’s no one nervier than John Constantine, as you’ll find if you read my review of the Hellblazer #1, right now!

Explain It!

All of my American public school friends know what started World War I: Archduke so-n-so was assassinated by some guy in 1914 and somehow that made Germany attack France or something? We see a re-enactment of that day, and luckily we know that it was June twenty-eighth because the author was kind enough to tell us that. It turns out that a fellow named Adnan held his brother Marid back from stopping the Archduke’s assassin, explaining that mankind must endure free will and not have their futures guided by an unseen hand…which is kind of ironic because it was an unseen hand that did begin World War I and a century of perpetual conflict. In the present day, John Constantine is woken up by his host and unfortunate lackey Chas, who takes him to see his backyard greenhouse. Inside, curling out of some peat moss, is the Swamp Thing! And he wants to collect on a debt.

John harkens back to a few months ago, back in New York, when Swamp Thing showed up in some convenience store oranges and asked him to help find Abby, who is missing from the Rot. Constantine agrees to do this, but only if Swampso will vouch for him with the Justice League when he almost condemns all of London to Hell (see the Rebirth issue for more information.) Having done his bit, Swamp Thing wants John’s help finding Abigail—which he will, right after he runs a handful of errands and picks up a woman named Mercury that essentially threatened his life last issue. Indeed, as John approaches in his car, she’s ready with a double-gauge shotgun, which proves that she is probably pretty smart, since Constantine is a total dickhead.

The two ultimately have a cordial chat, and by “cordial chat” I mean Mercury tells John off and where he can stick it, but before they part ways Mercury spies Swamp Thing and is smitten. Who can blame her? He’s pretty buff for a muck-encrusted mockery of a man. Since Mercury is all expert demonologist and stuff, John hops in a car with Chas and leaves her to help Swampy and make good on his promise. Isn’t that just like the prick? In the epilogue, Marid visits his brother Adnan, not looking any older despite a hundred years having elapsed since the events from the beginning of this issue. Adnan has wrestled with having stopped his brother from saving Archduke Ferdinand, wondering whether it was the right thing to do considering the continuous bloodshed that has resulted. Marid says it was right, but not for the reasons he is thinking. As he wrings the last vestiges of life from his brother’s neck, Marid explains that it was right to plunge humanity into despair because it disproves the existence of God! Oh snap! Things just got existential and shit!

I really hope we see John Constantine, Mercury and Swamp Thing hanging out some more, because they really make a cool Trinity. It seems so obvious, I’d be surprised if we don’t see more of these characters in the near future. The writing in this issue was great, the dialogue was snappy and engaging…but not much happened in this book. And maybe it isn’t as important for things to “happen” as it is that we understand the characters we’re dealing with, but I also would have liked more of the old Abracadabra. Luckily, there’s a new issue in two weeks, that could be a total psychedelic trip-fest so stay tuned!

Bits and Pieces:

Now that John is safely in London, he's in debt (as usual) to the Swamp Thing (as usual.) To make good on a promise, John connects his old Swampy pal with another frenemy that we met in the Rebirth issue. Plus: an alternate take on world history. All that, and it's rendered expertly by Moritat and colored divinely by Andre Szymanowicz. Now who could ask for more?


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