Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Hellblazer #7 Review and **SPOILERS**

Your Racist Grandpa

Writer: Simon Oliver
Artist: Philip Tan
Colorist: Elmer Santos
Lettering: Sal Cipriano
Cover Artist: John Cassaday with Paul Mounts
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Group Editor: Jim Chadwick
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: February 22, 2017


Okay DC Comics, this is your third try at making a John Constantine-led book outside of the Vertigo imprint, and I’m going to lay all my cards on the table: it’s not going so well. I’m not going to belabor the reasons why—I have a review coming up after this introduction for that—but I think I’ve got a few pitches that could right this ship without sending John-boy back to the veritable wasteland that has become Vertigo. As always, these are freely given with no expectations that I will get any part of the millions and possibly billions of dollars that will doubtlessly result in using these ideas. The success of DC Comics is reward enough for me.

Gordon Ramsay as John Constantine: Okay, I’m not insane. I know you can’t actually hire an actor to portray a character in a comic book. What I’m really suggesting is that you make John’s character like famous incendiary chef Gordon Ramsay: he should be shouting at and belittling everybody, and also criticizing other magicians’ spells and altars. He should also be a little misogynistic…actually, this is sort of how John Constantine is already, so maybe Ramsay is pilfering the comic book’s character’s personality.

Change John’s cigarette habit to full-blown crack cocaine addiction: When John Constantine was created, the idea of a chain-smoking David Bowie mage was still cool. Today, people would rather watch a protagonist flog puppies than smoke a cigarette. So let’s tone it down a little: get John hooked on crack. It doesn’t have to be instant, he can start by dabbling in cocaine, then move on to freebase, and finally he’s copping jumbos on the East Side with his conjuring money. He’s already an irredeemable shithead, what’s holding him back?

Make John Constantine a permanent member of the Justice League: This idea leans in the other direction, completely away from Vertigo. Turn him into the absolute joke as satirized in the Hard-Travein’ Heroz miniseries. Have him conjure psychedelic nonsense like Steve Ditko’s Doctor Strange. What have you got to lose? What we’ve got now is worse than my high school Economics class.

I don’t normally criticize the comic book I’m reviewing in the introduction, but what can I say. I’m in a mood. Here’s my review of the Hellblazer #7, which is as always unassailable and incontrovertible.

Explain It!

John Constantine and Mercury are in Paris, looking for a fellow named Jacque Henry, who is as old as dirt and an expert on Djinn. Seems he encountered them first hand while on the archaeological dig in Raiders of the Lost Ark. At just that moment, some youths are conspiring to rob Jacque Henry, considering him an old kook that definitely has a bunch of cash around for some arbitrary reason. Actually, this part centers around a single, impoverished dad named Dante, who normally supplies information about the places he’s worked to some local rip-off artists, but this time they want him to come along and earn his stripes. To do so, he leaves his daughter alone in a squalid apartment, which is actually how a lot of kids grow up these days.
The gang races over to Henry’s apartment on some awesome motorcycles, and while cruising they almost run Mercury down. She uses her Spidey sense and can tell that they’re all headed to the same location. She takes off running, but old Three Packs a Day ain’t keeping up with that pace, so the burglars make it to Henry’s place long before John and Mercury. One of the thugs asks Henry about a Djinn, I think? But he won’t answer except to say that maybe they shouldn’t have allowed civil rights for black people. That doesn’t go over well, and Dante’s about to shoot Henry for talking smack, when he has a convenient heart attack, sparing anyone the charge of murder.
Before dying, Henry tells Dante to press the secret button that reveals a book containing all of his memories, hopefully arranged as a scrapbook using lots of stickers and fun captions. John comes running in with a broad axe that he took from Jacque Henry’s wall, but Dante immediately unloads his gun in John’s direction and jumps through a closed window while Constantine dives for cover. John chases him out the window and onto the roof, but loses his grip and falls what looks like a few stories into a bush! Later, he comes too—and the French police have their guns drawn on him! Or maybe they’re mobsters. They’re speaking French, that much I know. 
The art was pretty interesting in this issue, looked like panels taken straight from some cool anime. With the changing art styles, however, Mercury again looks like a completely different character, this time more of a huffy broad with dark hair. It’s confusing and belies the fact that there isn’t much of an underlying personality for Mercury. Beyond that, what the hell is happening with this story? We’re starting a new arc, while the Swamp Thing is repairing himself from damage incurred in the Rot and the Djinn are…I don’t even know what’s happening there, didn’t we find out the evil Djinn replaced the good Djinn and stuffed him in some alternate dimension an issue or two ago? What is happening here? I am so confused. I’d say this book lost its direction, but I think it’s been wandering since the second issue. So I’d wander right past this, if I were you.

Bits and Pieces:

Some really interesting, though series incongruent artwork can’t cover up the fact that this series is like something stumbling in the dark. And I don't mean anything spooky, either; I mean me at 3 AM in ten year-old underwear feeling my way for the bathroom and hoping I don't grasp a cockroach. I suppose if this was the only issue of the Hellblazer you'd ever read, you might enjoy it. But if you've been following the series as I have, then you're likely wondering if the comic book is secretly slipping you drugs.



  1. Ugh, I really just miss Tynion and Rossmo's run. It wasn't revolutionary, but it was great and worlds better than this boring, flaming bag of shite. (Also, what's up with this cover? He's just looming over a black and white Paris, holding one of his fists aloft like an idiot and an unlit cigarette in the other? Light your damn cigarette, you poser)

    1. I really liked Tynion and Rossmo's run, particularly in the beginning, and I think the style of that book really suited Riley Rossmo's art. This book, with its rotating art teams and aimless narrative flailing has become a chore. I've simply checked out on the story, I don't really care what happens to any of these characters from here on out (except Swamp Thing, the poor maligned story device)

      And this is definitely the worst DC Comics cover I've seen this week. It's like something an angry junior high schooler would draw on a page of looseleaf. This book needs to regroup and/or end.