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Christian

Constantine: The Hellblazer #4 (also known as 5/10)

#4, it is  

5 members have voted

  1. 1. You know the routine by now.

  2. 2. Would you rather see this comic become a romance book?

    • Yes!
    • Yes, but only if homoerotic.
      0
    • Maybe
      0
    • No.
    • No, because John is bi, and I am a homophobe.
      0
    • Don't care, but couldn't hurt.
  3. 3. Rank this poll

    • Great job. Keep it up!
    • It's ok.
    • Needs to improve.
    • Lou does a better job with the Comics Shipping thread.


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Christian    734

OK, time to discuss issue #4.

Having just read it last night, I find myself having a hard time remembering any of the issue except the ending. I'm thinking it's increasingly hard to find a lot to say about this story-arc, where the main plot seems almost forgotten after the first chapter.

Oh, yes. I remember. John gets drunk. Some nice atmospherics. Maybe trying a little too hard. Not bad, but I remember finding some elements to dislike. Those must be the parts I forgot.

I should have seen the big reveal coming, I think.

Eh, dead ghosts are probably the least interesting element of this story, so I can't fault the author.

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A. Heathen    1,125

I can't be arsed, so here are the words of James Wilkinson.

Overlong as usual, and has moments of plain wrongness, but that just makes it almost exactly what I think.

 


  •  
    Well I'm glad that things are coming together now, but I'm afraid this storyline has completely lost me, beyond morbid curiosity about where the cliffhanger is going (so well done there, I suppose). I imagine they were going for a Grant Morrisonesque "unnervingly fragmented" kind of jive, but it just comes across as choppy and clumsy, with no real flow or tension.
     
     
     
     
     
    And there are so many clunky bits of storytelling. Who's the girl ghost who tells him off in the record shop? When was it established that the tentacle thing could travel around the world? What happens between John challenging the ghost to appear at the magic show and him breaking into the library in Cambridge? Come to think of it, how did he and Georgie get to Cambridge if they were in Manchester last issue - was he drinking for the three and a half hour train ride between the two cities, and why did he bother going there in the first place, since his breaking in seems to be a spur of the moment decision? Who thought it would be a good idea to represent Veronica sliding out of reality with teenage poetry written in fridge magnets?
     
    And there are still too many scenes of people basically explaining everything - how they feel, what they used to do, what they just did, what they're doing right this second - either to each other or straight up to the reader. The plotting of John and Veronica's relationship is mechanical and perfunctory rather than poetic, and I can't help but feel it would have worked better without all the jumping backwards and forwards, but instead focusing purely on their relationship; basically, treat it like a self-contained tale bookended by John getting drunk in the present day at the start, and then the reveal at the end. As it is, I feel like I'm reading the illustrated Wikipedia summary of the story rather than the story itself.
     
    I don't want to rag on this comic for not being "proper" Hellblazer, because it's a new title and a new universe. But sadly it's making that really hard for me, because so far it feels like someone desperately trying to imitate Hellblazer without really understanding what Hellblazer was or why it worked. So there's Gaz, and the ghosts, and Mucous Membrane, and a mention of Newcastle, and a lost love and awful regret - but none of it feels like an organic whole, just a series of boxes being ticked by someone who doesn't quite get it.
     
    (Also, I hate the way John is being written - he's utterly unlikeable. His selfishness should be a subtext to his interactions, not the whole damn text, and when he hurts innocents/allies it should be because he's oblivious or overestimated his ability. As has been said a few times, he should be a bastard, not a [over-used word]. Also I don't get the sense that there's any difference between his young punk personality and his modern-day self... either he should be more of a prick or less, but not the same.)
     
    Shame, because I really liked that first issue.

 

Oh, and one more complaint that's really just a personal dislike rather than an accusation of incompetence: I really hate the way magic and the supernatural are used in this comic. The whole business with Mucous Membrane playing to crowds of demons is just... boring.

 

 

 

Mundane magic was fun when Buffy and Angel did it, but that was 18 years ago now, and it's been copied by so many other series since that this just feels like a derivative of a derivative. Worse, boring! What's the point of risking turning into a Studio Ghibli hentai character if the unseen world is as fucking unimaginative and dull as the regular one?

(I mean, okay, you had Gabriel, Ellie et al in the original Hellblazer comics, but they were generally shown to be exceptions, and their private lives were generally left a mystery. And the rest of the supernatural world was generally fucking terrifying, bizarre and awful. What could make a demon less scary than seeing it buy a Mucous Membrane T-shirt from the merch table?)

 

In the interests of interest, here are two things I disagree with from the above diatribe or tract.

 

Q When was it established that the tentacle thing could travel around the world?

A When she turned up in England.

 

QWho thought it would be a good idea to represent Veronica sliding out of reality with teenage poetry written in fridge magnets?

A I did, but it was in an otherwise messy mess of a comic and so it might jar. (Can a thing before and after a jarring thing be what jarred ?)

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Christian    734

Oh, yeah. I was wondering about that woman ghost as well. She said John saved her children from being eaten by demons, or some such. Are we meant to recognize her from Constantine-past continuity, or it just something random? Reading James, I'm guessing it's just random.

 

Yep, the demons going to the rock concert bit was what bugged me the most in the story, being reminded of it.

 

I don't think the author knows what she wants the book to be. It seems she started writing the story-arc as one thing, but it didn't exactly interest her. Now, I'd say the book is trying to be three different things (horror, fantasy, and romance), and not doing any particularly well.

 

I give this issue a 2. Not because I hated it, but because the story is a bit of a mess (gently said), and the original plot got lost in between.

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Christian    734

Yep. I noticed that as well. This series obviously takes place in the past. The fact that the John Constantine of issue #1 looked to be 29, at the very oldest, makes it very odd, indeed.

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Christian    734

Sounds like the past of the early-1990s, when John was only in his 20s, because Marvel time!

Hence, the timely Buffy homages.

(I was just joking about it being in the past.)

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Qusoor    69

While reading this, it occurred to me that I miught be done with the character. Nothing matters. It'll all be wrapped up in a nice little bow at the end. The characterizations are shallow. Nothing interesting is happening.

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Balthazar    167

I didn't really care much for this either. Was rather mediocre and I didn't like the way John was written at all. The scene with him getting the ghosts killed took me far out of it. And I miss Riley's art.

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dogpoet    442

I did quite like the implication that none of the ghosts had actually become ghosts by dying, but instead had slipped out of reality through overuse of magic, which was what the stuff about his vanished girlfriend seemed to be implying until the ending pissed that idea away in favour of just making her a skullfaced demon with huge tentacles instead. Shame, as that seemed a bit of a waste.

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