Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Hellblazer #14 Review and **SPOILERS**

Flight of the Barfly

Writer: Tim Seeley 
Artist: Jesús Merino 
Colorist: Carrie Strachan 
Letterer: Sal Cipriano 
Cover: Tim Seeley with Chris Sotomayer 
Cover Price: $3.99 
On Sale Date: September 27, 2017


I’m still feeling sort of wary about this title, but I have no great complaints about the previous issue. It’s just that I was so badly burned by the first writer on the series since Rebirth, I can’t help but to temper my enthusiasm. But that won’t make me temper my opinions, as you’ll find out when you read my review of The Hellblazer #14, right here!

Explain It!

The demon drink. “Lips that touch alcohol shall never touch ours,” admonished temperate ladies a hundred years in the past. Mind you, it wasn’t the lips of heavily-dressed women that most lushes were looking to smooch, but the point was made: the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the sale of alcohol, went into effect on the first of January in 1920, and suddenly an entire nation was made to sneak their rummy concoctions in back rooms and secret parlors of iniquity. The act had to be repealed ten years later, not only because it was so unpopular, but because it begat so much violence from organized crime. The government learned that there are no overall gains to be made by placing one’s self in between an addict and the object of his obsession.
But when that drink is actually some kind of distilled essence of demon, that’s another thing entirely. Seems Constantine knows an old magic trick (and it was nice to see him perform a simple ritual, for once) that can make a location belch up its history by smearing bacon fat on its counter correctly. I’m sure there’s more to it, but like the homespun gadgets made in the television show MacGuyver, this comic didn’t reveal the entirety of it lest the reader at home try it for themselves. After a little trip through nightclub “The Bro Down’s” storied past, which includes a sojourn through Constantine’s misspent punk rock youth, Constantine learns that the folks he sat with last night were under the control of ethereal dwarves—two, specifically, named Fjalar and Galar. Yeah, they’re Nordic.
Seems they can sort of glom onto a person and make them do stuff, and in this instance got John to drink from a bottle of the Mead of Poetry, which then enacted his immediate fantasy—which was, at the time, to drop a guy into the air conditioning unit of his apartment building. So now the thing to do is find these dwarves and give them a right bollocksing, or whatever British euphemism John wishes to employ. Investigating the aforementioned murder is Detective Chief Inspector Ames, someone John met and screwed in the fetid bathroom of the previously noted punk rock club, so she has some history with the man. And this means she hates his guts.
Having burned “The Bro Down” as a natural recourse of his bacon fat ritual, John Constantine smashes a bottle on the sidewalk and strolls off into London’s equivalent of a sunset, left with a sense of purpose. And we’re left with the sense of having read a fairly mundane but inoffensive story. We got some magic-making, a little backstory, and now we’re off to find out how John is going to screw over one of his dearest friends or ex-lovers in order to stop these dwarves’ onslaught. It feels comfortable, but no better than that. And after the last run that I couldn’t even finish, I am okay with something consistent and understandable rather than utter claptrap. “Utter claptrap.” That’s something John Constantine would say, isn’t it?

Bits and Pieces:

There’s some classic John Constantine magic-making action in this issue—and that means actual magic tricks and being yelled at by someone he’s screwed over in the past. It feels pretty good. I much prefer John as a sleight-of-hand trickster than an all-encompassing sorcerer. No complaints about the artwork, but there’s nothing particularly moving here that should pique your interest. John Constantine fans only need apply.


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