Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Hellblazer #15 Review and **SPOILERS**

Ain’t Nothing Funny, Honey

Writer: Tim Seeley 
Artist: Jesús Merino 
Colorist: Carrie Strachan 
Letterer: Sal Cipriano 
Cover: Tim Seeley
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: October 25, 2017


Cor an’ blimey, ‘ets a sticky wicket, innit? Ess only harf-past midday dinners and Sod’s Law’s set en, yeah? I’m just practicing my cockney for when I visit London in late November! Yes, it’s really happening! What do you think? Should I read more issues of The Hellblazer written by the totally-not-British Tim Seeley, wot? I fink ets jest the thing, mate! Check out my review of issues #15!

Explain It!

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the world: get someone to tip their hand and then smash them in the face with it. Butter up your victim so you can catch them unawares. Let them think they “won” while you make off with the trophy. It’s the second most successful negotiating tactic, after overpowering others with sheer, brutal tenacity. If your tenacity is neither sheer nor brutal, then you might find cause to perform some mental gymnastics on your target. And to that end, reading a few issues of The Hellblazer might give you a few ideas.
Having clued into the Nordic dwarf brothers that used him to commit a senseless murder, John Constantine decides to visit them where they live: in the Land of the Dead. This is easily accessible by jumping feet-first into the opened body of a cadaver, and the Land in question looks somewhat like the bloody interior of human being. There, probably near the liver, is a bar, tended in this instance by the two Svartlafar that John wants to have a word with. They’ve also got his old shag-mate and current Chief Inspector Margaret Ames held captive, so her tearful horror. So John makes a wager: let him take a big pull on that bottle of mead that makes your most instinctive wishes come true, and he’ll remake the world in some horrible John Constantine vision where everyone is probably smoking cigarettes. Also, let Margaret go.
Since Nordic dwarves aren’t that bright, they agree to these terms, and John wakes up in a world where his old punk rock band is super famous and he lives in a tacky mansion with lots of hangers-on. His world-changing doesn’t go unnoticed, however, and he’s approached by Zatanna and Swamp Thing to make things right before they make him sorry. He blows them off, so Zatanna calls on the entire Justice League to talk to John! They all showed up! In an issue of Hellblazer! This is all we’ve wanted to see since John Constantine was folded back into the DCU in 2011, and here it is. John takes another swig of mead and cleans Superman’s clock before running into a bar where he finds Margaret Ames, looking disheveled and forlorn. Seems she’s existing in John’s fantasy—dejected and lost without the great John Constantine, forced to hit the bar circuit because…look, it’s John’s fantasy, I can’t explain all of it. John calls forth the dwarves to have a word with him, and when they reveal themselves he uses his mead power to incinerate them! Then, while the Justice League tries to get into the bar to deal with John, he tells Margaret to sip some of the honey mead, to restore the planet to some sort of decent vision instead of the fever dream of some lying plunker.
And, uh, it works. And there’s a final scene that’s pretty touching, so I’m not going to spoil it. I’m not sure, folks, but I think this arc of The Hellblazer…is done. In three issues. I’m so excited by this, I think I’m having a panic attack. Three issues! Calee, calay! Oh frabjuous day! And what’s more, I enjoyed it! Yes! John Constantine did some weird ritual magic tricks, screwed people over for temporary gains, and interacted with the rest of the DCU! Sure, it was in a fantasy world that was wiped away by Margaret, but still! This is more like what I’ve wanted to see since the New 52 (and which was approached by Tynion and Rossmo during their run), and I can do no less than give it praise. So praise, praise be, The Hellblazer! You might make John Constantine into a viable DCU character yet!

Bits and Pieces:

This is a really solid issue, featuring some gross ritualistic spells and typical double-dealing by John Constantine, but the real trick might be that it appears to be the conclusion of a three-issue story arc. Yes! That concise span that is rarer in modern comics than non-murderous characters. If you've been missing some of that ol' Constantine magic, then this could very well be your ticket.


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