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About QuietScholar

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    Trenchcoat Brigade
  1. :nod nod: Its kind of why i got severely confused when people started reaching for the "theo-mythic world changes" per Sandman/Lucifer paradigm. It does, but within a certain limit established by the writers themselves. before someone says i'm belaboring a point, bear in mind that these writers didn't just invent their frameworks on the fly - they really did think them out, perhaps because they were self-conscious of creating a coherent myth cycle and had ownership over their series. Their main characters inhabited theo-mythic worlds, but there's a severe difference in kind (not by degree) between Dream/Lucifer and a god like Ra. And those...gradations? they invented for the types of beings that inhabit their stories prevent the "theo-mythic world" from being an undifferentiated mass where everyone is following the same trend. Chronology and as Red intimated, Causality are preserved. Well that issue is a clustefck, but its a good example. Kick everything about the Sandman/Lucifer and run with the "theo-mythic world changes due to collective human wlll" - if that's really the case for Hellblazer, than Yahweh and his creations have been getting a pass from that since day 1. Take Gabriel, traditionally conceived of for centuries in both Islam and Christianity as friend of humanity, a comforter, a bearer of good news whether in the form of the coming of Jesus or the dictation of the Koran. Then take one look at Garth Ennis' Gabriel. See the difference - how come centuries of belief just got discounted? Heck, an even more egregious violation - the foundational point of Christianity is the virgin birth of a savior being who happens to be the only son of god. blahblahblah Yet Gabriel... Hellblazer 64 - Gabriel raped a woman named Mary.....there goes a few centuries worth of faith and theology. The generally unsympathetic nature of the portrayal of angels runs counter to what people in the real world actually believe about such theoretical entities. Taking a look at the portrayal of the god itself, and the dissonance becomes even larger. It is neither the fundamentalist rendition (see Preacher for a comparison) nor the god of compassion. Instead we have a master manipulator. Injecting in the breadth of Vertigo, that's the one quality that keeps popping up 1.) In the Jenkins run, the god tells King Arthur an obscure piece of knowledge - betting that Arthur would go tell Merlin and thereby kill him with a bobby-trapped piece of lore. 2.) In the Sandman, It sends two angels telling them they would be "observers" during the auction of Hell...only to pull the rug from under them. 3.) In Lucifer, It openly admits to setting up the main character. Sin, Hell, Evil, Lucifer's Fall - that's all part of the plan - a fact that would violate central theologies/beliefs held by either fundamentalist or mainstream religious sects. Heck, It comes out and says that the reason for the existence of the universe does not correlate with the central beliefs of the Abrahamic faiths - rather its a testing ground to decide between his two Sons - Michael Demiurgos and Lucifer (buh-bye Jesus - you just got disenfranchised....and there goes the central dogma of a whole religion). The end of Lucifer kind seals the deal on that one. _It_ asks a philosophical question of two people whether the universe should continue - quite ready to destroy, worshippers and all. No god of any other religion would go that far - they need worshippers to survive. And no real Christian, Muslim, or Jew would be able to recognize the god i've just described. Why all the dissonance? Simple answer is it makes a good story. But since post-Gaiman, writers have identified Yahweh with the Presence. But, the irony behind that is quite funny. The believers in other faiths have knowledge of their Gods. Their general wants, desires, hatreds, etc. They KNOW them. When you see Odin "on screen" in a story he acts like Odin, the way you would expect him to act. Loki doesn't do charity work and Thor won't discourse about rocket science. Where they go "wrong" is gauging their importance in the universe. Those following the Abrahamic faiths are ontologically correct about the being they've identified. This thing which happens to be named Yahweh is in fact the Creator. But they don't know their God. What it wants, what its plans are, what their place in the universe is.... its completely subverted. Their faith, unlike those of other religions, has no effect on It or its creations. Because ultimately its a different kind of being, one that has no need of worship or faith. As one commentator on Lucifer once said, Its really more like a Deist God in a Judaeo-Christian wrapper - something which even applies to Gaiman's rendition. Some details like the Name and events like Lucifer's fall are preserved. But beyond these superficial elements.... It has to go down this way though, otherwise we wouldn't have Hellblazer. We'd have Constantine with Keanu Reeves. :P
  2. I know. I bring them up only address the point about "gods popping into existence and thereby existing for all time." You can't have that occur when you have a set of Entities that pre-date them. That's what the list above signifies - Entities that Predate them. Ugh, i'm doing a bad job on this thread triyng to explain myself. Let's take an example: Destiny's Book - its the immutable record of the universe's history. He reads it while the event is happening. There are no retroactive changes to the book. If time travels occurs, its there in the footnotes. That means when a God pops into existence - Destiny's got the Real Time GPS tracking of i dunno Zeus coming into being. He pops into existence, Thunderbolt in hand or whatever with his mythic history. Olympus pops into existence as well. But this isn't a retroactive reworking of the cosmos. Why? Cause i can turn 2 pages back and show that Zeus didn't exist until 2 pages later. I can turn to the front portion of the record with the mysterious "In the Beginning" that Destiny read and show that Zeus wasnt athte beginning. That his creation occurs at a definitive point in time. Oh i'm willing to admit to that - but that strikes at the heart of the Nergal question, because i asked what is he (at least in terms of the current editorial shift). You said it yourself, deities are affected by human consciousness (although to what extant..nevermind that's another conversation). What if he was a Demon first? They don't follow the same rules... ex. I can get the whole universe to think that the First of the Fallen is Santa Claus. that ain't going to do anything to him. He's freestanding entity, that happens to fall under the "I predate you" situation. Same applies to someone as low as Etrigan the Demon. "I wish it to be true" isn't going to shape him. At best Demons will simply play to the expectations of humans, but no fundamental changes to their character will occur simply by an act of human consciousness. Doesn't that have to be determined on a case by case basis? Back when Vertigo was being touted as "the dark Corner of the DCU, run away children" - you'll encounter lots of entities doing exactly what you stated. Heck, "All My Engines" had that Mexican Death God acting like that at the beginning until good old ConJob gave him a reminder. And then you'll find those who are incredibly self-aware of just how fragile they are. Its kind of hard to say for instance, I am the True God, Creator of the Universe, the Be All and End all, etc....when your Lover/Friend is Dream of the Endless - who can tell you how you came to be. Deny it? You can. Except, since you are a human construct while you may able to account for the origin of everyone in your pantheon, you can't necessarily do that for the Other Gods. Call them Demons if you will....except then you have Hell's Demons which act so very different and aren't constrained by the rules you perceive to exist. Furthermore, your stuck playing "Cosmic Idol" - You see other Deities die. You can feel the ebb and flow of your power. How can you be the True God if your power Ebbs and Flows?! How can you call the Other Gods false if they are following the same routine? All the while, your interacting with things far greater than you. The Lords of Chaos and Order (while admittedly are effected by human thought), are not constrained the way you are. HEck, you don't even remember creating them! Then how are you the Creator? Its worse with the Endless. You can see they have no temples, that conscious beings hardly ever acknowledge their existence. And yet they persist. And in your old age, starved for worship, you'll notice that the beliefs you had are starting not to make sense. You'll never get to finish Ragnarok now - your opposition is dead. Apep the Serpent of Chaos is dead, a being you thought you would eternally battle. Everything you have based your identity on is falling apart at the seams, and those gods you supposedly called "False" - well some of them never looked better. How can you possiblely explain that o Creator of Humanity? And then one day, your former lover/current friend's Older Sister knocks on your door.....
  3. Eek, i don't know why this is becoming a contentious issue, but you actually kind of answered why i'm asking. We're dealing head on with a new tight continuity. I mean, look, DC/Vertigo line editors have always seemed to want it both ways - allow the individual writers to play but some how make sense of it all at the end of day. Case in point: Garth Ennis creates the Devil without calling it the First of Fallen for his initial Hellblazer stories. His character is a petty, selfish, rough, and brutal figure. Meanwhile, Gaiman introduces Lucifer. He's David Bowie who acts like Milton's character. I can't remember who pointed out, but someone on the editorial staff goes, "We have two Devils. Fix this." And its done, i think by Ennis, as there's a Hellblazer scene recounting the fall of the morningstar in his anguish with the now named First of Fallen standing over him giving him the "Welcome to Hell" look. the Retroactive answer is propagated across the Board - Now Lucifer (shown ruling Hell in Sandman) is said to have essentially kept out of the affairs of rulership letting the First of Fallen along with the other two "of Fallen" run the show....until around the time of Dream's jaunt into Hell. Paradox Resolved. And i was simply asking if this Paradox regarding Nergal met with a similar neat answer. Apparently it does not. Well that's valid for the Delano run. Bear in mind, i like the Delano run, its probably my favorite run. But since Ennis, John has accumulated history. He got his Lex Luthor (First of Fallen), he had his immortal failed love (Kit - until Milligan apparently decided to hat-trick the issue), etc. you could still argue that they were disconnected runs with some carryover, pieces of history that were fact while the rest were passed over in silence. then Carey happened. Now its not really possible to do that anymore as he made a monumental effort to essentially rationalize the history of Hellblazer so it did in fact make some sort of sense. Diggle followed suit right? A pinch of John from Allan Moore, and a plot device from Delano with the Golden boy. Wave your hands and tada, we have the answer to "Why do bads thing happen to John" - the Answer becomes the Golden Boy. And the trend is contiuing with Milligan, we are visiting/revisiting John's past again and again and again, pulling more and more from it and making that Continuity Noose ever so tighter....
  4. It's exactly like that, cf. Lucifer and The Sandman. Once a god exists it has always existed - even if it hadn't always existed yesterday. That's a little off kilter. Esp. when you take into account the existence of the Endless themselves, the Lords of Chaos and Order, and the Presence who rules the Silver City. None of these beings came into existence by an act of creative will of Humanity. Moreover, they can remember points in time when well, those little gods who emanated from the Dreaming did not exist. Heck, these gods and entities themselves can too. Remember Sandman Presents: Bast? the debate that occurred between an overenthusiatic cat devotee of Bast and a Sabertooth tiger which represented a more Primal Fear? It literally said, "I Predate your Goddess." Look, ultimately Cosmology is determined by Editorial Fiat, as A. Heathen said: Here, perfect example - the Presence. So some people automatically identify that....thing.. that rules the Silver City with the Judaeo-Christian God and apply the whole "Gods need votes from Humanity in order to maintain themselves" schema.... ...Except Gaiman himself explicitly stated that the Silver City doesn't = Heaven, and the Unknown Being who runs it is not any particular God, much less the Judaeo-Christian one. Its something...beyond, and he runs with that idea in his Murder Mysteries mini-series. However, that's Gaiman's interpretation (which does amount to authorial intent at least). Other writers built links to his Mysterious Being and started well doing the following = The Voice from Spectre = the Source from New Gods = Etc. = Etc. Then Carey came along and decided to cement the relationship - the Unknown Being _is_ the Judaeo-Christian god, a variation with artistic license. And promptly kicked him and Lucifer out leaving a mortal in charge of everything. Lucifer appeared in the Shadow Dog story arc of Hellblazer, watching idly as the Beast consumed humanity. Yet, John's later interactions with "Heaven" doesn't register the outcome of the Lucifer series, he's not trading jibes with Elaine Belloc - new ruler of the universe. Why? Editorial Fiat - and most probably because it would be boring. We've apparently moved to the point where attempting to stitch things together is no longer viable - while the DCU needs to do that and cranks out the "reset" series like Crisis, Zero Hour, 52 Weeks, etc to do a house cleaning - Vertigo slowly moved away from that. What's true for one series is no longer true for another...until the almighty Editorial hand says it to be so. Hell, forget about between series, how about just between runs within a specific work. Ex. Merlin/King Arthur from Delano's run vs. Jenkins' rendition.
  5. Well yeah sure, you can Retconn to your hearts content. Or completely alter a fundamental aspect of a character, and tada you are in DC Elseworlds/Marvel "What If?" territory. MMmmm. Well i do understand that a writer will just jump into the hotseat an crank out a story that's entertaining, devil-may-care what has come to past - no problems with that, and i'm sure the editor doesn' care as long as it sells. But...i'd still argue that there is a set baseline of events for any character unless some uses the almighty "Hand of God" editorial privilege. Tell me that John didn't go bonkers an end up in Ravenscar, and you've veered completely from something that's been established. Sure, with a HOG edit it doesn't have to be true. You can even take a theo-mythical creature and end up in the same territory. Morpheus/Dream of the Endless is dead. It died in a very specific manner, removed by it's own sister after having its kingdom assailed by the Kindly Ones. True? Yes, again unless someone wants to HOG Edit..... which would completely implode the morality tale Gaiman had created but hey... LOL, but you see for me, that's the fun part - how are they going to work/rework and make all the pieces fit. By my nature i am quite speculative A. Heathen, so yes this constitutes a sort of fun for me - like an abstract version of Legos.
  6. Now that's someone i can get behind. China might be it, unless someone wants to venture another Ellis run, not like he'd ever consider doing it of course. I agree. I think the last few writers have been pretty good about avoiding the "world is going to end" business, although Carey let a bit of that show during the Shadow Dog arc. As for digging up the past - thats an addiction few writers seem to want to break. As much as i disliked the run, Brian Azzarello at least tried to do that - although we ended up with someone who essentially wasnt John.
  7. Yeah, that's sort of the point. Nergal was a Babylonian god...and now, historically speaking, he's considered a demon. Ah but your imposing real world historicity upon Hellblazer's universe. Let me put it this way - a set of chronological events have occurred, regardless of what human understandings of these events might be. Its not like humanity's collective belief constantly rewrites the universe and its previous history. At best, it creates deities/pantheons with little miniature pocket dimensions where they get to play god or goddess until humanity turns off the juice. There is one sole ontological exception to this, an Entity whose servants and "broken toys" superficially resemble the Judaeo-Christian faith, although those theological understandings are distortions - perhaps rose-colored glasses or humanocentric self-serving misinterpretations of the truth. A quick review of the behavior of Angels in Hellblazer can verify that. _It_- the Voice, the Presence, the Source, or whatever moniker you wish to give it, does not simply exist because Humanity believed in it. Nor are its direct creations constrained in such a manner - after all Lucifer did go off and construct his own universe and populated it with humans, a swampthing like Plant-elemental, etc. An act of power no god or goddess born of the Dreaming ever could pull off. So there's an objective manner in which the universe panned out, something immutable to changes in human perspective. Enter Nergal - and here we have problems for... 1.) It could be as you say, that Nergal is the product of human imagination, a god born from the Dreaming that once upon a time like the Mexican Death God from "All His Engines" ruled from on high. And then had to swap affiliations in order to survive. He's a God who became a Demon (whose still a God?)....but not quite the type of Demon who got kicked out of the Silver City along with the First thof Fallen or Lucifer. 2.) Or he is in fact a Demon who got kicked out in that war and who later propelled himself to Godhood because the ancient Babylonians thought it to be true. He pre-existed their beliefs, and simply carved a niche for himself when they were concocting their "How the World Works" story. 3.) OR the First of Fallen was telling the truth. Nergal was in fact one of those ancient Babylonians, a rather vile soul who died, went to Hell, rose up the ranks of the Demon kind, and THEN pulled off what was stated in Option 2. Either way, it raises more questions about Nergal... Like if Option 3 is right, how the heck does he have a demonic brother, Stecorax? And what does Nergal get from being both a God and a Demon? But i digress, perhaps asking a little too much of continuity - after all, we see a Lady Ishtar in Pandemonium. Yet, if we were to follow the Sandman, we all know that Lady Ishtar spent here last days as a stripper before she performed one final act....
  8. Now you see, i'd think that Number 1 is in fact a consistent complaint. Arguably Hellblazer started off as a mix of political angst/horror. The serial has definitely moved away from that toward family man concerns (no pun intended);. Is it right to even call Hellblazer a horror comic at this point? Sure we get the odd-standalone story that brings back the old '80s/'90s rush of Constantine the Trickster. But those nuggets are awash in a sea of personal drama stories. But wouldn't that require the writer to be invested in those issues in the first place? And how hard would it be to find someone who is strung up like that these days? Actually here's a general question to anyone reading: Does anyone have any candidates for a new writer? As for the Nergal/FOTF story cruch, I guess writers find the use of those characters as easy and safe - like pitting Superman against Luthor.
  9. well, i guess i have to ask this question - its one i asked a while back, but given the thread i feel validated for asking again. What are you looking for out of a John Constantine story? The past few writers who have helmed, have more or less been panned on this website and others. Milligan, Mina, et al. Mike Carey escapes most of the time, although he's criticized for his continual use of.....Continuity - as if John is trapped/married to his past. And that's true in a way - when in doubt, recycle the Norfulthing! or Ravenscar! or Nergal! or the Golden Boy! There's a genuine sentiment amognst many HB fans that something has been wrong, and wrong for a while. But what would make it right?
  10. I've always heard the accusation bandied about that one of the reasons why an re-integration of John into the DCU is nigh-impossible is due to his pedigree. Most of the Vertigo characters were, in some comic book "historians" views, saved from obscurity not due to some grandiose reworking of the character - but due to reader interest in the political and social causes that individual writers expressed through the obscure character (debateable). I think this is the viewpointed adopted by Warren Ellis' in that issue of Planetary with his John Constantine stand-in. Vertigo characters are the "Sad and ridiculous" relics of the '80s and '90s. Heck, the most recent move casts some question about Vertigo as a independent line (is it too an outdated relic?) John can dodge that accusation, perhaps because John has grown old - in a way that very few of the other Vertigo characters have (Swamp Thing maybe?). Although i'm sure his time is coming as well...
  11. Well i knew about the real world origins of Nergal (definitely one of the less pleasant Babylon deities). My question was more to what that makes Nergal in the context of Hellblazer. Remember it was Delano who wheeled out Nergal as demon, and now seems to have retconned himself. Not that it matters, the story is still amusing.
  12. Admittedly I love Delano - so before catching up with the main series I scooped up Pandemonium, although it did leave me with a question or two. Nergal, old Nemesis Number 2 (the first being, well the First) - supposedly a depraved human soul slain in ancient times who worked its way up the ladder of demonhood (but then what about his Nigh-Invincible Brother from the Carey Run?), or so sayeth the First of Fallen. Yet Pandemonium has him cast in the role of a dispossessed Babylonian God. We know its him since Delano wheels out that good old blood connection, although he seems to mock the title "demon...." So what is Nergal then really? Mortal who became a Demon who became a God? Old God who became a Demon?
  13. Admittedly i've been remiss about following old ConJob's trials and tribulations, but i recently spent some time catching up since the short jaunt to India. Only to find a pudgy Angie Spatchcock and Kit (of all people!?) at a wedding. I knew i smelled "setup" with Phoebe as a means to leverage a relationship with Epiphany, but i never imagined Milligan would go out there and bulldoze all of John's ex's proclaiming Epiphany as the one True Love/Patsy/erm..well..whatever for John... that is until she get's bulldozed by the next writer's creation. Thoughts on how long this marriage is going to last? (Personal bet is to the end of the run)
  14. Meh. This one felt like a giant letdown. The whole arc seems to have sputtered out. That and part of me feels like that the previous story arcs have been methods to "shoe-horn" Epiphany into John's life, and now i'm almost certain of it.
  15. I am rather liking this Hellblazer jaunt to India, its a bit different from the normal stomping grounds. Although with Epiphany back in the picture, i can't help but go back to my pet theory that we are about to be served up a bait-and-switch in terms of Hellblazer casting. At the end of the day, Phoebe's role is little better than a McGuffin. The little alchemist on the other hand may end up on that notorious list of John's accomplices and liaisons. Has this all been one big elaborate setup for the character i wonder?
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