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JasonWanderer

Just Got into Hellblazer...

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Hello, everyone.

 

Currently, I’m on Carey’s run and I’ve been itching to discuss this series (seeing as no one around has any idea what I’m talking about).

 

As it stands, Hellblazer is now my favorite comic series (sorry Cerebus) and I’m incredibly glad to have found it. There’s really just something about this series that’s hard to describe. It’s just so...normal; very real and very eye-opening.

 

In terms of the individual writers (excluding Moore) so far my list, from best to worst, is as follows:

 

Ennis – While not every plot in Ennis’s run was the most riveting, he was the one that really made me see Constantine as a person rather than a character (my favorite issue of the series is [currently] #67 - “End of the Line” - wherein Kit leaves John causing him to go out on his own. To see him be defeated not by a supernatural force, but just by being John Constantine made it all the more meaningful). As a whole this is something that shined during Ennis’s run. I feel like while the series was all about John’s life, this selection of issues was about John Constantine the individual if that makes any sense. Taking away all the supernatural, magic, and hell from this run with make no difference. It seems like other writers dealt more with the situations, that’s not to say they weren’t character-driven of course or that John doesn’t feel like a person, but more so that this one always kept a level of humanity (there’s a whole issue devoted to Kit after all) that seems to be lacking elsewhere. Something to note, however, is that a lot of the non-supernatural situations Ennis gave John are similar to that which I've been in (the John-Kit dynamic especially) which is definitely one of the reasons this resonated with me.

 

Jenkins – A solid run overall, not necessarily anything spectacular, but that was more because nothing in it was awful as well. “How to Play with Fire” had a very well executed anything (even if the story itself was a bit messy), that sums up John’s life perfectly. As a whole, Constantine was characterized incredibly well, but none of the other main cast really provided much. They weren’t bad by any means, but they weren’t spectacular either. Still, a tear does come to the eye thinking about Astra’s soul being released.

 

Delano – This is definitely the most consistent length of issues in terms of quality. There really aren’t any dips. Despite this, however, I didn’t find myself saying I loved Hellblazer until after Delano’s tenure. His plot was very dense and very well done. The slow build up with vague references to Newcastle was great, but when it comes down to it...none of it really mattered for me. I didn’t really feel an impact at all from this run and it just felt like a collection of supernatural/gothic horror stories with a cool protagonist. Arcs like the “Family Man” were great, but mainly for the narrative and not for lasting impressions. Unfortunately, the issues with guest writers are the ones I like the most here. “Hold Me” and “How I Learned to Love the Bomb” were superb and brought a nice bit of contemplation to them. That’s not to say Delano didn’t service anything to think about, but most of it seemed very political/social in nature, rather than personal with political/social connections.

 

Azzarello – I don’t particularly like condemning writers, but this set of issues was a pain to get through. I’m sure Brian can write, but certainly not for Hellblazer. That’s really all there is to say about it. The first few words of the first issue alone had me already think that something was “off”. Ultimately, I’m sad to say, I couldn’t finish this run properly and ended up giving in and skipping over to when Mike Carey started.

 

 

So far I’m enjoying Carey’s run (just finished Red Sepulchre); the longer arc is an appealing idea. I had previously read Unwritten which I, admittedly, stopped reading, but I’m pleasantly surprised to find that his Hellblazer ideas and writing for Constantine is rather solid. Hopefully that doesn’t change.

 

Above all else, I'm glad to have a place to discuss this series.

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A. Heathen    1,125

Welcome.

You've got through a lot of the good stuff and I think a fresh eye on the classics would be good to discuss here.

 

 

 

 

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JohnMcMahon    562

Ennis – While not every plot in Ennis's run was the most riveting, he was the one that really made me see Constantine as a person rather than a character (my favorite issue of the series is [currently] #67 - "End of the Line" - wherein Kit leaves John causing him to go out on his own. To see him be defeated not by a supernatural force, but just by being John Constantine made it all the more meaningful).

 

Welcome, I think that's a great summation of Garth's writing at its best and the reason why 'Dangerous Habits' will always be my first recommendation to anyone thinking about reading some Hellblazer comics.

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JasonT    438
Above all else, I'm glad to have a place to discuss this series.

 

You've found the right place, if not the right time. :wink2: Ah, the glory days of 5-10 years ago...

 

Welcome aboard.

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You've got through a lot of the good stuff.

 

Oh no. I hope that doesn't mean I'm getting into anything too bad.

 

As an aside, I've read through a bit more of Carey's and I noticed that it's very reminiscent of the show. There's a lot of random magic use, and John seems a bit more reluctantly enthusiastic. Even the narrative of a growing supernatural issue with otherworldly beings looking for John's help echoes the "rising darkness" arc of the show.

 

I guess overall, it makes sense. Right now Carey's run seems like the most accessible for a wider audience while still maintaining what Hellblazer is.

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Welcome, I think that's a great summation of Garth's writing at its best and the reason why 'Dangerous Habits' will always be my first recommendation to anyone thinking about reading some Hellblazer comics.

 

Dangerous Habits is definitely the quintessential Hellblazer story. It has just enough crudeness, humanity, and emotion all while dealing with a supernatural threat (plus the epilogue led me to my favorite song).

 

I'm curious: how do people who haven't read previous issues react to it?

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You've found the right place, if not the right time. :wink2: Ah, the glory days of 5-10 years ago...

 

Welcome aboard.

 

Thanks!

 

I wish I could have been here when the series was in its prime.

 

I've been skimming through old threads to try and get a taste of that.

 

Great profile picture, by the way.

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seventhcircle    580

- what are you guys talking about? the quintessential stories are obviously either ashes and dust, the devils talking trenchcoat, or that atrocity with the bulldog - (where are my sarcasm tags?)

 

hi welcome to the board!

 

Delano – This is definitely the most consistent length of issues in terms of quality. There really aren't any dips. Despite this, however, I didn't find myself saying I loved Hellblazer until after Delano's tenure. His plot was very dense and very well done. The slow build up with vague references to Newcastle was great, but when it comes down to it...none of it really mattered for me. I didn't really feel an impact at all from this run and it just felt like a collection of supernatural/gothic horror stories with a cool protagonist. Arcs like the "Family Man" were great, but mainly for the narrative and not for lasting impressions. Unfortunately, the issues with guest writers are the ones I like the most here. "Hold Me" and "How I Learned to Love the Bomb" were superb and brought a nice bit of contemplation to them. That's not to say Delano didn't service anything to think about, but most of it seemed very political/social in nature, rather than personal with political/social connections.

 

i think delanos run gets a lot better, if you see it as child of the time. john is all about counter-culture there. the comic was at least as much a political statement, as it was a cool supernatural story. delano uses the supernatural as metaphor and john and plot as a device - the message is the star. ennis has generally a very existencialist approach, the journey of the character in a story is the whole point ennis is making - the character is the star.

 

Azzarello – I don’t particularly like condemning writers, but this set of issues was a pain to get through. I’m sure Brian can write, but certainly not for Hellblazer. That’s really all there is to say about it. The first few words of the first issue alone had me already think that something was “off”. Ultimately, I’m sad to say, I couldn’t finish this run properly and ended up giving in and skipping over to when Mike Carey started.

 

you will just fit right in, lol

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- what are you guys talking about? the quintessential stories are obviously either ashes and dust, the devils talking trenchcoat, or that atrocity with the bulldog - (where are my sarcasm tags?)

 

hi welcome to the board!

 

delano uses the supernatural as metaphor and john and plot as a device - the message is the star. ennis has generally a very existencialist approach, the journey of the character in a story is the whole point ennis is making - the character is the star.

 

you will just fit right in, lol

 

Lucky me, I skipped Ashes and Dust.

Thanks!

 

 

You summed that up much better than I did. I need to go through Delano's run again, I feel like I missed a lot from it as a whole, in terms of the messages.

I wonder if Jenkins was trying to be a middle ground between Delano and Ennis. Jenkins's stories never really dealt too much with the smaller aspects of Constantine's life, but everything ultimately tied back to his direct actions. He seemed to keep him at the center, but at the same time deal with other ideas.

 

While it's always good to fit in, if only it were under better circumstances...

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Lou K    1,054

Ennis – While not every plot in Ennis's run was the most riveting, he was the one that really made me see Constantine as a person rather than a character (my favorite issue of the series is [currently] #67 - "End of the Line" - wherein Kit leaves John causing him to go out on his own. To see him be defeated not by a supernatural force, but just by being John Constantine made it all the more meaningful).

 

Welcome, I think that's a great summation of Garth's writing at its best and the reason why 'Dangerous Habits' will always be my first recommendation to anyone thinking about reading some Hellblazer comics.

 

This, IMO. Dangerous Habits always felt like the definitive Constantine story to me. Kind of has it all.

 

A massive re-read of the good stuff is in order, to remind me why I loved this character to begin with. Then I am chucking the floppies in favor of the trades. Simply no room at the inn.

 

[edit] oh, and welcome.

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JasonT    438
Great profile picture, by the way.

 

Great user name. :biggrin:

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You've got through a lot of the good stuff.

 

Oh no. I hope that doesn't mean I'm getting into anything too bad.

 

To echo the rest: welcome aboard. As for post-Carey being "anything too bad", I think I have a differing opinion than most around here, that the series never dipped into "awful" territory until the very end. Immediately post-Carey, the run by Denise Mina, is the lowest point of the series IMO. Even with a lot of his ill-conceived ideas concerning women and trauma (and a rather brutal and infuriating character assassination), I quite liked Milligan's run. It just wasn't how I wanted the series to end. STILL! Diggle is perfectly decent and you have the rather excellent issue # 250 to look forward to!

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seventhcircle    580

You've got through a lot of the good stuff.

 

Oh no. I hope that doesn't mean I'm getting into anything too bad.

 

To echo the rest: welcome aboard. As for post-Carey being "anything too bad", I think I have a differing opinion than most around here, that the series never dipped into "awful" territory until the very end. Immediately post-Carey, the run by Denise Mina, is the lowest point of the series IMO. Even with a lot of his ill-conceived ideas concerning women and trauma (and a rather brutal and infuriating character assassination), I quite liked Milligan's run. It just wasn't how I wanted the series to end. STILL! Diggle is perfectly decent and you have the rather excellent issue # 250 to look forward to!

 

i agree with you so far, as to say that it's really mostly only sub-par compared to the rest of the series. there is a lot of worse shit out there than anything in hellblazer. a big problem is propably that the writers mostly were the cream of the crop and some of them especially azz and milligan, performed a lot worse than they did elsewhere, whereas others (including guestwriters) produced straight up art in some issues.

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As the others have said, welcome to Hellblazer!

 

As you make your way through the 300 original issues or after you finish them, I'd recommend reading some of the standalone mini-series and graphic novels that were put out along the course of Hellblazer's lifespan. Some of these - The Horrorist, All His Engines, Pandemonium, City of Demons, are just as great or worth checking out as what was put out in the main series. For my money, probably would make for a better follow-up read than the New 52 and Rebirth Constantine books!

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seventhcircle    580

As the others have said, welcome to Hellblazer!

 

As you make your way through the 300 original issues or after you finish them, I'd recommend reading some of the standalone mini-series and graphic novels that were put out along the course of Hellblazer's lifespan. Some of these - The Horrorist, All His Engines, Pandemonium, City of Demons, are just as great or worth checking out as what was put out in the main series. For my money, probably would make for a better follow-up read than the New 52 and Rebirth Constantine books!

 

and neil gaiman's books of magic.

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This, IMO. Dangerous Habits always felt like the definitive Constantine story to me. Kind of has it all.

 

A massive re-read of the good stuff is in order, to remind me why I loved this character to begin with. Then I am chucking the floppies in favor of the trades. Simply no room at the inn.

 

[edit] oh, and welcome.

 

It manages to capture the good and the sad aspects of the character quite well.

 

Thanks! I hear you, 300 issues is a bit much to keep around.

 

 

Great user name. :biggrin:

 

Thanks, old son.

 

 

 

To echo the rest: welcome aboard. As for post-Carey being "anything too bad", I think I have a differing opinion than most around here, that the series never dipped into "awful" territory until the very end. Immediately post-Carey, the run by Denise Mina, is the lowest point of the series IMO. Even with a lot of his ill-conceived ideas concerning women and trauma (and a rather brutal and infuriating character assassination), I quite liked Milligan's run. It just wasn't how I wanted the series to end. STILL! Diggle is perfectly decent and you have the rather excellent issue # 250 to look forward to!

 

Care to tell me what you thought of Azzarello's run?

 

That's a shame. I was actually excited for Mina's set of issues; curious how a novelist wrote the series.

 

This issue #250 is intriguing already.

 

 

i agree with you so far, as to say that it's really mostly only sub-par compared to the rest of the series. there is a lot of worse shit out there than anything in hellblazer. a big problem is propably that the writers mostly were the cream of the crop and some of them especially azz and milligan, performed a lot worse than they did elsewhere, whereas others (including guestwriters) produced straight up art in some issues.

 

 

Hellblazer is one of those series where the worst is still considerably better than other things out there.

 

You're spot on about the guest writers. Some of those issues were really great.

 

 

As the others have said, welcome to Hellblazer!

 

As you make your way through the 300 original issues or after you finish them, I'd recommend reading some of the standalone mini-series and graphic novels that were put out along the course of Hellblazer's lifespan. Some of these - The Horrorist, All His Engines, Pandemonium, City of Demons, are just as great or worth checking out as what was put out in the main series. For my money, probably would make for a better follow-up read than the New 52 and Rebirth Constantine books!

 

Thanks for the suggestions. I actually just found out about Winter's Edge too, so I'm tucking those away for a few weeks (I'm interested to see what a Constantine Christmas is like).

 

 

and neil gaiman's books of magic.

 

Thanks!

 

 

-----

 

On a side note, I just got through "Staring at the Wall" and moved onto the amnesia arc. The former was pretty good overall. I find Carey's run to be more exciting, tying in characters like Swamp Thing; the world itself seems a bit large with cameos from Lucifer as well.

That said, I'm still a bit...I don't want to say upset, but maybe confused at the more man-of-action Constantine. Carey does really well with the characterization, but it no longer feels as though he's a regular guy. He's spouting spells, and hooking up with other magicians. The most Constantine thing he did was the meditation while letting his hand boil. The more magic-focus doesn't take away from the stories too much, but I guess I just wouldn't be surprised if fire-balls start coming from his hands.

Additionally, and this might be a product of not yet finishing the run, but I can't quite put my finger on Carey's central focus (comparable to Delano's counter-culture or Ennis's "end of the line" writing of Constantine's life). It seems to be more broad, dealing with the working of the world as a whole and the order of events that come from things, but I could be wrong...?

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Care to tell me what you thought of Azzarello's run?

 

That's a shame. I was actually excited for Mina's set of issues; curious how a novelist wrote the series.

 

This issue #250 is intriguing already.

 

Azzarello's run, to me anyway, was a real mixed bag. "Good Intentions" and "Ashes and Dust" are abominable outside of the Frusin artwork, probably two of my least favorite Hellblazer stories. But, then, Azz also has the really fucking excellent "Freezes Over" and "Lapdogs and Englishmen" in the middle of his run (even "Highwater" was pretty good, I thought).

 

On a side note, I just got through "Staring at the Wall" and moved onto the amnesia arc. The former was pretty good overall. I find Carey's run to be more exciting, tying in characters like Swamp Thing; the world itself seems a bit large with cameos from Lucifer as well.

That said, I'm still a bit...I don't want to say upset, but maybe confused at the more man-of-action Constantine. Carey does really well with the characterization, but it no longer feels as though he's a regular guy. He's spouting spells, and hooking up with other magicians. The most Constantine thing he did was the meditation while letting his hand boil. The more magic-focus doesn't take away from the stories too much, but I guess I just wouldn't be surprised if fire-balls start coming from his hands.

Additionally, and this might be a product of not yet finishing the run, but I can't quite put my finger on Carey's central focus (comparable to Delano's counter-culture or Ennis's "end of the line" writing of Constantine's life). It seems to be more broad, dealing with the working of the world as a whole and the order of events that come from things, but I could be wrong...?

 

I quite liked Carey's run on the book, but he was much more concerned with plots than with characterization. Everything had to tie back into his two mega-arcs (Shadow Dog and Rosacarnis) with very little room for side stuff. Compared to Delano, Ennis, or Jenkins, who all had the space to meander out into other areas of interest, Carey was all about Point A to Point B to Point C.

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seventhcircle    580

Azzarello's run, to me anyway, was a real mixed bag. "Good Intentions" and "Ashes and Dust" are abominable outside of the Frusin artwork, probably two of my least favorite Hellblazer stories. But, then, Azz also has the really fucking excellent "Freezes Over" and "Lapdogs and Englishmen" in the middle of his run (even "Highwater" was pretty good, I thought).

 

freezes over was excellent, the rest wasn't my thing.

 

I quite liked Carey's run on the book, but he was much more concerned with plots than with characterization. Everything had to tie back into his two mega-arcs (Shadow Dog and Rosacarnis) with very little room for side stuff. Compared to Delano, Ennis, or Jenkins, who all had the space to meander out into other areas of interest, Carey was all about Point A to Point B to Point C.

 

i think thats a really good analysis, of why it felt different and why some people might not warm up with it. the shadow dog felt too big a monstrosity for hellblazer, how it was built up and all, which gave it an uncharacteristic taste. that being said i don't dislike careys run, it just wasn't one of the high-points of the series.

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14 hours ago, Ixnay by Night said:

 

Azzarello's run, to me anyway, was a real mixed bag. "Good Intentions" and "Ashes and Dust" are abominable outside of the Frusin artwork, probably two of my least favorite Hellblazer stories. But, then, Azz also has the really fucking excellent "Freezes Over" and "Lapdogs and Englishmen" in the middle of his run (even "Highwater" was pretty good, I thought).

 

 

I quite liked Carey's run on the book, but he was much more concerned with plots than with characterization. Everything had to tie back into his two mega-arcs (Shadow Dog and Rosacarnis) with very little room for side stuff. Compared to Delano, Ennis, or Jenkins, who all had the space to meander out into other areas of interest, Carey was all about Point A to Point B to Point C.

When I'm done with Carey I'll go back and read the arcs you mentioned.  I'm curious to see Azz at his best.

I just started the second arc.  It's an interesting way of writing it, and I'm happy Carey tried something different.  Though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't upset that the more personal arcs were absent.

13 hours ago, seventhcircle said:

 

freezes over was excellent, the rest wasn't my thing.

 

 

i think thats a really good analysis, of why it felt different and why some people might not warm up with it. the shadow dog felt too big a monstrosity for hellblazer, how it was built up and all, which gave it an uncharacteristic taste. that being said i don't dislike careys run, it just wasn't one of the high-points of the series.

It's a good middle-ground, almost feels a like a well-done reboot in some ways.  Not the best, but just a cool experimental take on the series.  

As for the subject of the arcs, I felt similar.  The Shadow Dog had a bit much going on; like an extended crossover event.

3 hours ago, A. Heathen said:

Top insights, Jason, you'll have to aim lower to live up to your namesake though.

 

Have you noticed the links section?

http://hellblazer.ipbhost.com/index.php?/forum/14-the-book-of-hellblazer/

Hehe, I try (or I guess I wont).

No, I haven't.  Thanks!

 

---

Oddly enough I realized I never commented on Ellis's run and that shouldn't speak of it's quality.  It just slipped my mind for some reason.  I'm not really sure where to place it.  "Haunted," "The Crib," and "One Last Love Song" were exceptional.  In fact his writing overall was just...great. He understood Constantine.  He understood good drama.  It's a shame he had such a short time on the series.  He's definitely better than Carey.  On par with Jenkins I'd say.

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Ellis was such a missed opportunity.  I thought "Haunted" went on way too long with too much early-2000s padding for the trade, but stuff like "The Crib" and "Telling Tales" were quite good.  I wouldn't put him up with Jenkins, though, that cat was my favorite writer on the series.  Still, I'd love a glimpse at the alternate reality where "Shoot" was published as intended and Ellis had his 40-issue run on the book.

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dogpoet    442

I think it's a bit unfair to blame the whole "less rambling and more plot driven" thing on Carey alone: weren't DC editorial leaning on everybody to plot out story arcs with collecting them into trades rather than having individual issues function as readable in their own right at the time he was working on Hellblazer?

(I'd also question that he didn't still get plenty of character points into the stories: there's several stories where he digs pretty deep into Constantine, Gemma, Chas and Angie in particular and even the disposable villains get some backstory and something resembling an inner life. Hell, he even treats the FOTF as a character rather than a convenient plot device, doesn't he?)

And hello, Jason. It's always nice to see new posters in here.

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I will say, after Azzarello's run finished, having Carey on the book was a huge breath of fresh air.  I loved the majority of Carey's run, and perhaps the plot-driven aspect was simply an aspect of the comic medium at the time.  You're right, though, Carey DID have a lot of characterization for John and the cast throughout his run, he just didn't give us stories like "Forty" or "Undertow" during his run, and those are the types of stories I dig the most in Hellblazer.

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seventhcircle    580
3 hours ago, Ixnay by Night said:

Ellis was such a missed opportunity.  I thought "Haunted" went on way too long with too much early-2000s padding for the trade, but stuff like "The Crib" and "Telling Tales" were quite good.  I wouldn't put him up with Jenkins, though, that cat was my favorite writer on the series.  Still, I'd love a glimpse at the alternate reality where "Shoot" was published as intended and Ellis had his 40-issue run on the book.

totally. i really think he was right to go. as far as i understood it: he basically told a story about how badly society treats it's youth and how horribly it could go wrong. and then the shit happens close enough as he had described it in a fringe horror-book (and propably no other published wouldve greenlighted this anyway). he must've felt like a fucking prophet and then dc takes that away from him for reasons of decency. the guy must've been fucking pissed.

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10 minutes ago, seventhcircle said:

totally. i really think he was right to go. as far as i understood it: he basically told a story about how badly society treats it's youth and how horribly it could go wrong. and then the shit happens close enough as he had described it in a fringe horror-book (and propably no other published wouldve greenlighted this anyway). he must've felt like a fucking prophet and then dc takes that away from him for reasons of decency. the guy must've been fucking pissed.

I wonder, had DC agreed to pull the issue from the publication schedule with the promise that it would be printed at a later date, once the freshness of Columbine had faded, would Ellis have stayed on the book?  I mean, even he surely must have recognized the incredibly poor timing of the comic's release, through no fault of his own or the publishers of course.  If Paul Levitz hadn't stamped a D-Notice on it, publicly stating "Shoot" would never be published as long as he was running DC, maybe they wouldn't have lost such a high-profile creator at the start of a long-term series run.

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