Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Hellblazer #20 Review and **SPOILERS**

From the Sole of Your Soul

Writer: Tim Seeley 
Penciller: Davide Fabbri 
Inker: Christina Dalla Vecchia 
Colorist: Carrie Strachan 
Letterer: Sal Cipriano 
Cover Artist: Tim Seeley with Chris Sotomayor
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: March 28, 2018


‘Ere now lads, it’s anuvver issue of ‘Ellblazer, wot? That’s a roight sticky wicket if’n I’ve ever laid me orbs on it, yeah? ‘Ow long do you scamps think I c’n keep this up afore some real Brit pummels me soundly? A few whiffens, you say? Well, let me not wallow like a lorry looking for a lift, and dive right into my review of Hellblazer #20, you wager?

Explain It!

If John Constantine is a superhero, then his “Kryptonite” is his conscience. Despite behaving as if he hasn’t got one, available evidence suggests the contrary and it is his hubris. Mind you, if he didn’t have a conscience, then he’d probably have the entire planet in his thrall. I think he did exactly that a few months ago, but it was to find out who was taking his morning newspaper every day (turned out he forgot to renew the subscription.) And now here he is, performing Dark Rites and cutting himself to get to the bottom of what demonic entity possessed his old flame Margaret Ames. If he didn’t have a conscience, he wouldn’t even be thinking about it. But knowing he’d led her down the path to the occult, thereby making her susceptible to possession, he has to try and do something. He summons his ex-girlfriend from Hell, Blythe, to ask some questions—now that’s dedication. Everyone hates Constantine, but his ex-girlfriends reserve a special ire for the bloke. She says that one of the criminal Day brothers escaped to Ames’ flesh, and the Hades Retention Dept. isn’t thrilled about it. They’ve hired a bounty hunter to get this Day fellow back, and that being doesn’t mind if Margaret Ames’ body is reduced to pulp.
So now it’s somewhat of a race to rescue Margaret Ames, both before she does some unwitting evil due to the devil inside, and before Satan’s assassin turns Margaret’s body into strawberry jam. Meanwhile, the Day brothers are looking for the perfect body that they can imbue with the soul of their third brother, and they think they’ve found the right candidate: some mouthy prat that leads a gang of tough teens. These teens threaten Priest Day and his brother (in the body of Margaret), but they are unflapped…Margaret, mostly. They prepare to abscond with their targeted fellow, when a purple arrow streaks from a nearby rooftop at Inspector Ames! Constantine jumps in front of it to save Margaret, and she and her brother take off, leaving John and the aggressor at the mercy of a tough London street gang! Oh, and the aggressor is the Huntress, I should probably mention that. Though, since she showed up on the last page of the previous issue, you could have figured that.
We’re hitting all the important John Constantine notes here: he does magic, communes with demons, acts flippant about an ex-girlfriend that he is actually desperate to appease—it all feels right. But there’s still something weirdly complex about the core plot that takes me out of it…perhaps a general misunderstanding of the rules behind demonic possession. Does one have to dabble in the occult? In which case, does the leader of that street gang do so? Or is it more about one’s mental makeup? These questions didn’t hurt the story, but played in the back of my mind and nagged me while reading it. The visuals are passable, but a lot less special than I’d prefer to see in a magic-based comic book story. All things being relative, you could do worse than read this issue while burning some time before doing something less boring.

Bits and Pieces:

John Constantine moves closer to finding out what happened to Margaret Ames, even employing an old flame to do so. Unfortunately, it reads pretty dull. This might be owed, in part, to the particularly bland artwork. Or maybe the day-to-day of a hipster mage isn't all it's been cracked up to be.


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