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Just Got into Hellblazer...

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1 hour ago, Christian said:

Ennis certainly had an axe to grind, as a lapsed Catholic. I can't blame Ennis for deciding to put himself in to the character of John Constantine, as that has often been a recurring motif for different writers on the original Hellblazer series. Just as Delano made John a socially-aware, Existentially despairing, Socialist because those are the concerns that Jamie Delano has as a person.

Most of the Western esoteric tradition was based on Christianity too. From the Church turning competing deities in to the demons of Hell, the usage of the angelic powers, or the invocations of the countless demons who were dreamed up to try to explain how things in Nature worked to a fearful populace during the Middle Ages.

The idea of earlier multi-ethnic (as opposed to Hellenism) pagan ideas or Eastern concepts being incorporated in to the Western esoteric tradition didn't come along until later.

Of course, Delano is the far better writer and a much more cerebral person, but what better character for Ennis to work out his own frustrations and questions about his own organized religion with than a character like John Constantine?

Not that this makes me enjoy the Ennis run anymoreso. It's a pale reflection of what Delano and Jenkins brought to the title.

There were also moments of pretty intense genuine horror, like the Ghosts from Vietnam story.

Or this

f459fb6f0c636ae3106944508ad23a3d.jpg

Ennis will just have a huge cock monste rape you until your eyes explode.

Honestly the Fear Machine is far more engaging than anything Ennis ever did on the title, and I completely forgot about it. Almost have a hankering to go re-read it.

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I dunno, Ennis could bring the horror when he wanted to, like "The Diary of Danny Drake".  That one is still pretty chilling, especially with David Lloyd's artwork on that final page.

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1 minute ago, Ixnay by Night said:

I dunno, Ennis could bring the horror when he wanted to, like "The Diary of Danny Drake".  That one is still pretty chilling, especially with David Lloyd's artwork on that final page.

Is that the one where the dude sacrifices infants ?

Cause if so that was rather meh from what I remember.

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Christian    734

I think it depends on your brand of horror. I would say that Ennis was pretty effective with writing horror fiction, if you look at the type of horror in mainstream modern horror movies. It's not what I enjoy, but it's a populist version of horror fiction.

Ennis' brand of horror is closer to something like Stephen King's sense of horror.

Jamie Delano's type of horror was much more cerebral. Delano was influenced by horror writers like Ramsey Campbell, whose idea of horror is far more psychological.

Ennis had his "splatterpunk" moments. Say what you will about that sub-genre of horror (and I will probably agree with your sentiments, because it's not my thing either), but that was the type of horror fiction which was so popular in the early-1990s, and that was when Ennis was writing HB, so he was with the zeitgeist.

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I'd actually place Ennis closer to Clive Barker, in that they always show the monster/gore/horror instead of letting it be more implied.  I'm one of those "it's scarier if you don't see it" types of horror fans myself, but Christian is absolutely right that the splatterpunk type of horror is definitely what was hitting big in the early 1990s.  Delano was more unsettling, Ennis was throwing buckets of blood at you and slicing up people's faces with box cutters.  Neither is wrong, both can be considered horror, it's all in where your preference falls.  

And I like "Diary of Danny Drake", I've always felt it was one of the better self-contained stories that Ennis did (though again, how much of that is down to Lloyd's artwork is certainly a consideration). 

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dogpoet    442

I wouldn't bracket Ennis with Barker myself: quite apart from the fact that Barker's horror fiction shows an interest in gender issues (rather than treating those purely as a source of comedy the way Ennis does), Barker has an obvious sympathy for the other and shows it (in both the Books of Blood and Nightbreed, and to a lesser extent The Damnation Game) as something that's strange and beautiful as well as frightening. Ennis, on the other hand, thinks that anything strange is inherently icky looking at his work on Hellblazer. The splatterpunk stuff that seems more germane to Ennis is, as you say, the more messy and less thoughtful side of things: Rex Miller, Skipp and Spector, Schow and the like. Barker had pretty much stopped writing horror completely by the time Ennis took over writing Hellblazer, after all.

Didn't Ennis criticise splatterpunk fiction for its self conscious extremity and dismiss it as an influence in a Preacher lettercol at one point? That was a good five or six years after Royal Blood of course...

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He may not share the necessary characteristics to be considered as such in a literary sense, but I've always found Delano to be very comparable to Lovecraft; less-excessive or overt threats.  Conversely there's Ennis who's a ton more explicit with everything.  I think this carries over into the stories as well.  Delano usually took the Lovecraft approach with the "antagonist" or evil being the primary focus as it usually revealed something about humanity, nature, society, etc., or allowed John to come to a conclusion.  Ennis, on the other hand, and to my memory, never really used what Constantine was facing as a metaphor or a window.  Most of the stories within his era used the situations as a backdrop to the more character focused story.  Where Delano would have an issue commentinh on the legality of literature leading to Winnie the Pooh pulling someone down "funny" stairs (which may not necessarily be horrific, but is, in some ways, unnerving), Ennis has an issue devoted solely to Kit leaving John and the aftermath or one dealing with Kit's side; no supernatural.

In a way, I feel like the extremes Ennis went to were a reflection of how little he thought the supernatural elements (as well as complex metaphors and symbolism) meant to Hellblazer.  At the end of the day, he threw the most gruesome stuff out there because doing it in any other way would take away from what he wrote in as the central idea.

 

---

Finished up Carey's run yesterday.  I'll admit I had a bit of a flip-floppy opinion of his era.  Originally it was "alright", then I thought he was comparable to Jenkins, before going against that a bit later.  However, from "Down in the Ground" to "The Gift" to "RSVP"... Carey might have had the best ending run, beating out "Rake at the Gates of Hell" for me.  Those last three arcs encapsulated all the great things about Hellblazer.  "Down in the Ground" was a tense supernatural story with actual weight to the outcome (I was getting a bit tired of the fake-out deaths that were happening every few issues), "The Gift" was a crude little side story in all the best ways with a great look at John as a character, and "RSVP" was just a perfect introspection piece rivaling what I loved so much about Ennis's run.  Above all, these last three arcs pulled back on the random magic use.  It actually felt like John was human again and had to deal with the emotional consequences of being a con man rather than a magician.

Overall the run is mid-tier, but those three are definitely among my favorites.

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dogpoet    442

I'm definitely with you on those last three stories of Carey's, and I think you're right about the social element as Delano contrasts to Ennis as well.

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I've said before that Carey's finale is probably my favorite ending to any Hellblazer run, in spite of the occasionally bumpy road leading up to it. "R.S.V.P." has a sense of finality to it, and I feel that in retrospect, if there was a place to satisfactorily end Hellblazer during its original run - this would be it.

Looking forward to seeing what you make of the final three original Hellblazer runs.

 

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dogpoet    442

Absolutely. At least part of the problem with Mina's run is down to her having to fudge around the fact that he's still involving himself in occult shennanigans after walking away from the whole thing at the end of RSVP, isn't it?

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I have to agree, Carey had the best finale.  While Jenkins had my favorite run in total, I always felt his ending fell flat, if an appropriate and necessary difference from the scorched earth of Ennis' final arc.  I've always had a soft spot for Delano's ending, too, with John essentially just disappearing into a cave and leaving his supporting cast wondering what the fuck just happened.

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dogpoet    442

Of course, the original John never did come out of that cave: the rest of Hellblazer's run was about the post-Crisis version, who was a different guy entirely and unlike the original had spent a lot of time in Ireland.

:wink2:

But yeah, RSVP is a stunning story, and it's a tribute to just how good Carey's other high points are that it isn't the best couple of issues of his run, isn't it?

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Christian    734

Oh yeah, Dog is so right about Hellblazer! The series ended with Delano's run, and the rest of it was an alternate universe story.

Delano's ending will always be my favourite, but Carey's ending is an easy second place. I wasn't as big a fan of Carey's run as many, and I definitely love the Paul Jenkins run more than Carey's run, but Jenkins' ending wasn't that great, and can't compare to Carey's ending.

Dog is, unfortunately, wrong about RSVP not being the high-light of Carey's run. I'm not sure what else can top Carey's ending, although his first story on the book was really excellent as well. Not at the same height as RSVP for mine, but also quite good. Nothing else in Carey's run even comes close to that, in my opinion.

I really lost interest in HB during the Carey run. I just kept reading the book by habit at that point. Yes, Azzarello's run was much worse than Carey's, and I can look back to Azzarello's run as the moment that my love for Hellblazer came to an end, but at the same time, I was just always full of hope that Azzarello's run was going to improve, and that the old HB would return. By the time we got in to Carey's run, I realized that the HB I had fallen in love with was gone.

I was proven right by what followed, which I didn't care for in the least.

I still had a major soft spot for Ennis' run at that point too, but then when I went back over the history of HB, I discovered that the Ennis run wasn't as grand as I remembered it to be. I started reading HB during the Ennis run, so it made sense that I would have a positive opinion of Ennis' run (even though I knew it didn't compare to Delano's run). Looking back, though, I realized I love John Constantine due to the Jamie Delano and Paul Jenkins' eras.....everything else, I don't really care for (Ellis is ok, but he didn't do that much on the book, and I don't have that much of an opinion on his run one way or another. It was no Delano or Jenkins though, that's for sure).

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22 hours ago, GottaGetAGrip said:

I've said before that Carey's finale is probably my favorite ending to any Hellblazer run, in spite of the occasionally bumpy road leading up to it. "R.S.V.P." has a sense of finality to it, and I feel that in retrospect, if there was a place to satisfactorily end Hellblazer during its original run - this would be it.

Looking forward to seeing what you make of the final three original Hellblazer runs.

 

"R.S.V.P." is great for exactly the reason you stated; the finality.  However, it does make continuing a bit jarring as whole.  Starting off Mina's run, I felt like everything was a bit of a side story.  Carey's end even hearkened back to Delano's beginning with John once again seeing the ghosts of his past within reality; it's a chilling full circle.

As for Mina's run, I'm almost through "Red Right Hand" at the moment.  It's been an interesting ride.  Something is a bit off about it as a whole though.  Nothing is particularly terrible, but it's all just muddled.  Something that's irking me is the constant call-backs that were placed within "Empathy is the Enemy;" Kit, for example, or using almost the exact same image as the end of "R.S.V.P." (with the ghosts around John, although here it isn't of the past).  It doesn't take away anything, but the greatest thing about "Dangerous Habits" or "High on Life" is while they may have been a continuation of a series, they were unique and brought about the start of a distinct era.  "Empathy" seemed almost too tied to Hellblazer's past.  Don't get me wrong, I love when John or the series itself reflects on what's happened, but for the start of a run...it almost seems like fan-fiction rather than a new chapter.  Even the outcome is very reminiscent to the end of the Shadow Dog arc in Carey's run.  I didn't really get a sense of what's to follow nor did I see Mina's unique interpretation.

The rest of "Empathy" isn't all too bad, and I like the overall literary flow.  It's just that it all seems a bit heartless.  There's really nothing so far that isn't incredibly overt and the stories themselves try and be personal, but rarely feel impactful.  I'm hoping "Red Right Hand" has a satisfying conclusion (one with, at the very least, personal reflection).

 

14 hours ago, dogpoet said:

Absolutely. At least part of the problem with Mina's run is down to her having to fudge around the fact that he's still involving himself in occult shennanigans after walking away from the whole thing at the end of RSVP, isn't it?

Yeah, it's a bit jarring.  He's in it up to his knees, but kind of decides to just not use spells which is just inefficient.  I'm not really sure how taking part in the situation, but not using magic (until doing so in "Red Right Hand" without even stopping to comment on the fact that he wasn't supposed to by his own standards, I might add) equates to his intention at the end of RSVP, but I digress.

I guess the whole "empathy" thing made him go forward with helping out.

 

10 hours ago, Ixnay by Night said:

I have to agree, Carey had the best finale.  While Jenkins had my favorite run in total, I always felt his ending fell flat, if an appropriate and necessary difference from the scorched earth of Ennis' final arc.  I've always had a soft spot for Delano's ending, too, with John essentially just disappearing into a cave and leaving his supporting cast wondering what the fuck just happened.

The actual ending of "How to Play with Fire" is what really made it.  Definitely some of the best lines in the series.

 

6 hours ago, Christian said:

Dog is, unfortunately, wrong about RSVP not being the high-light of Carey's run. I'm not sure what else can top Carey's ending, although his first story on the book was really excellent as well. Not at the same height as RSVP for mine, but also quite good. Nothing else in Carey's run even comes close to that, in my opinion.

I realized I love John Constantine due to the Jamie Delano and Paul Jenkins' eras.....everything else, I don't really care for (Ellis is ok, but he didn't do that much on the book, and I don't have that much of an opinion on his run one way or another. It was no Delano or Jenkins though, that's for sure).

I have to agree with you about Carey's run.  I liked it, don't get me wrong, but RSVP was definitely the best part (I'll admit, I shed a tear when John asked Swamp Thing to produce flowers and the subsequent panels showed the grave with almost a full garden).  Nothing else really stood out.

All things considered, Ennis's John is pretty unlikable as a whole (the whole "I'm too much of a man to cry" attitude was a bit off-putting).  For me, it's more so the situations, his reactions, what he was reacting to, and why he was reacting in such a way that really makes some of those issues the best.  In terms of Constantine, Jenkins and Carey's versions are definitely my favorites.  RSVP had John be at his most human.  Something that I really took away from that arc is that it fully reflects reality; it's not really exaggerated at all.  John doesn't do something extreme like cut himself off and live on the streets.  He still interacts with people, is still part of society, and that's where he twists the knife in; reflecting and wallowing when he's alone, but keeping face while around others (for the most part).

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I recently did a re-read of Hellblazer starting with Diggle's run, through to the end of Milligan's, and up through the DCU Constantine runs.  I'll be interested in your takes on Diggle and Milligan, because going back years later and reading them kind of changed my opinions on some of those stories (especially Milligan, whose run I hadn't read since it was first running).  I've said before that I think Mina's run is the weakest, mainly due to the absolute failure of how "Red Right Hand" ended, and how the pacing was so off throughout the run as a whole.  Plus, she turned in what was probably the worst issue of Hellblazer proper with that London terrorist/Map story.

Are you planning on reading through the DCU/New52 stuff as well?  

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dogpoet    442

Diggle just strikes me as a watered down version of Carey, to be honest. Kudos to him for picking the best run since Delano to try to do, but he can't do it even half as well as Carey did.

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Christian    734

I thought you said that he robbed from Carey's run, not Paul Jenkins run? Yet, then you said the "the best run since Delano", so you were obviously talking about Paul Jenkins!

I agree with you about Diggle. A watered down version of Carey, where he decides to spend most of his time digging up continuity which was already resolved. It felt very much like HB was being written in the vein of a mainstream superhero title. Diggle's first story-arc was pretty good though.

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10 hours ago, Ixnay by Night said:

I recently did a re-read of Hellblazer starting with Diggle's run, through to the end of Milligan's, and up through the DCU Constantine runs.  I'll be interested in your takes on Diggle and Milligan, because going back years later and reading them kind of changed my opinions on some of those stories (especially Milligan, whose run I hadn't read since it was first running).  I've said before that I think Mina's run is the weakest, mainly due to the absolute failure of how "Red Right Hand" ended, and how the pacing was so off throughout the run as a whole.  Plus, she turned in what was probably the worst issue of Hellblazer proper with that London terrorist/Map story.

Are you planning on reading through the DCU/New52 stuff as well?  

 

6 hours ago, dogpoet said:

Diggle just strikes me as a watered down version of Carey, to be honest. Kudos to him for picking the best run since Delano to try to do, but he can't do it even half as well as Carey did.

Figured I'd address both of these...

What gets me the most about Mina's run is that it had all the works to be incredibly satisfying, and poignant.  "Red Right Hand" amounted to absolutely nothing (though, I will say that Issue 225 has my favorite comic cover ever, of all time; why it's attached to that arc is beyond me).  Even with only 13 issues, I feel like there was more that could have come out of those stories.  Which leads me to my major gripe: it's starting to feel like Hellblazer has been sucked dry.  I don't want to say it started with Carey's run because that would diminish the good that came out it, but it definitely began with the more structured, long-running arcs.  In and of itself, I prefer the longer stories, but there seems to be an extreme focus on plot and that overshadowed the actual purpose.  Mina and Diggle's run, generally, (I just finished up "Roots of Coincidence"), have these large-scale events and complex workings that amount to nothing at all.  Just another demon to stop.  The reason Hellblazer was so great for me wasn't necessarily due to the writing, or the characters, or the art, but rather that it had something to say and unlike many (or most) other works it did so in a human, grounded way.  Magic aside, Constantine's life and situations were normal.  It could be felt.  All the magic's (pun intended) seems to have be taken from the series.  I haven't learned anything, nor have I decided to re-evaluate aspects of existence.  There's been a lot of lines that may get me to smile, but nothing that's gotten me to think or feel; not since "RSVP" (and, really, if I must be honest, before that it was "One Last Love Song" all the way back in the Ellis era).  It's all been exciting, but nothing particularly engaging (even arcs that I thought would go somewhere good, like John going back to Ravenscar ended in a plot-driven, ":entertaining way" - with absolutely no substance to it, nor anything to learn or gather...)

Now, all that said, we get to "Roots of Coincidence" (Part 2).  Like the rest of Diggle's run, the first part was a fun issue; nothing more.  I expected the second part to be the same, but then something miraculous happened: the antagonists were gone within the first few pages.  After that I get to witness John and Chas in a pub, for pages...and with that, the old spark came back just a bit.  It was good to see John as a person again, and it was even better to have an arc end (excluding the revelation he gets while talking) with a moment of humanity.

 

As for the DCU/New 52 series: I'll definitely check them out.  I love Hellblazer enough that I went to experience all of it.  That said, I want to read the side-arcs (i.e. "All His Engines") first.

6 hours ago, Christian said:

... digging up continuity which was already resolved. It felt very much like HB was being written in the vein of a mainstream superhero title. Diggle's first story-arc was pretty good though.

Not only was it resolved, but it had a point back when it was originally introduced.  Why Diggle decided to turn what happened at Ravenscar from a twisted situation to one involving magic that amounts to some creepy child-like demon baby being tossed from a bluff is beyond me.  Going back to Newcastle seemed like a good idea, but again it just comes down to dealing with a situation that had no business being brought back up nor did it bring any introspection or revelations; even thematically it was useless.

Diggle's constant usage of the past is the same problem I had with Mina's callbacks.  It feels like there's no uniqueness left to the title.  The writers are going backwards rather than moving forward like Ennis, Jenkins, and even Azz did; all of which brought a unique style and take with only minor pick-ups from those before them if the arc called for it.

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The Newcastle two-parter is one of the Hellblazer stories I'm not too fond of for the reasons you mention, probably the worst of the twenty or so issue stretch that made up the Diggle era, though it was actually written by Jason Aaron. Though I did like how Aaron just magically resurrected John's old landlady, last seen dismembered via Nergal in the Delano days! :tongue: (Carey also had a similar Unexplained Dead Character Resurrection though unlike Aaron he promptly returned said character to the dead)

My favorite issues of Diggle's run were his opening arc (I treat the mobster opener and Ravenscar Casino as one story) plus the "Mortification of the Flesh" two-parter - it was nice seeing John and Ellie working together to scam the Vatican. With Diggle's Hellblazer, it's quite clear that he was a fan of Constantine and his stories were all competent but as you've mentioned the many callbacks and reuses of Hellblazer's past didn't always work towards his run's favor.

While I didn't mind the changes brought about in the Ravenscar Casino and the Demon Baby arc that much, I wasn't too fond of the big reveal at the end that the Golden Boy had secretly been manipulating John the whole time post-Delano. I found it more powerful/relatable when the downward moments of John's life were the result of his own fuck-ups, rather than his multiverse abortion twin trying to break his spirit. Diggle's run began with swagger but I always felt that it ended on a bit of an abrupt anticlimax.

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11 hours ago, GottaGetAGrip said:

The Newcastle two-parter is one of the Hellblazer stories I'm not too fond of for the reasons you mention, probably the worst of the twenty or so issue stretch that made up the Diggle era, though it was actually written by Jason Aaron. Though I did like how Aaron just magically resurrected John's old landlady, last seen dismembered via Nergal in the Delano days! :tongue: (Carey also had a similar Unexplained Dead Character Resurrection though unlike Aaron he promptly returned said character to the dead)

My favorite issues of Diggle's run were his opening arc (I treat the mobster opener and Ravenscar Casino as one story) plus the "Mortification of the Flesh" two-parter - it was nice seeing John and Ellie working together to scam the Vatican. With Diggle's Hellblazer, it's quite clear that he was a fan of Constantine and his stories were all competent but as you've mentioned the many callbacks and reuses of Hellblazer's past didn't always work towards his run's favor.

While I didn't mind the changes brought about in the Ravenscar Casino and the Demon Baby arc that much, I wasn't too fond of the big reveal at the end that the Golden Boy had secretly been manipulating John the whole time post-Delano. I found it more powerful/relatable when the downward moments of John's life were the result of his own fuck-ups, rather than his multiverse abortion twin trying to break his spirit. Diggle's run began with swagger but I always felt that it ended on a bit of an abrupt anticlimax.

Wait did Diggle not write his stories himself ? I'm a bit confused there.

And I'd assume that he may have just not known she got offed by Nergal. Honestly I wonder if any of these writers had any thorough knowledge of the Delano stories when taking over, seeing it was a bit of a competely different animal by then.

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12 hours ago, GottaGetAGrip said:

The Newcastle two-parter is one of the Hellblazer stories I'm not too fond of for the reasons you mention, probably the worst of the twenty or so issue stretch that made up the Diggle era, though it was actually written by Jason Aaron. Though I did like how Aaron just magically resurrected John's old landlady, last seen dismembered via Nergal in the Delano days! :tongue: (Carey also had a similar Unexplained Dead Character Resurrection though unlike Aaron he promptly returned said character to the dead)

My favorite issues of Diggle's run were his opening arc (I treat the mobster opener and Ravenscar Casino as one story) plus the "Mortification of the Flesh" two-parter - it was nice seeing John and Ellie working together to scam the Vatican. With Diggle's Hellblazer, it's quite clear that he was a fan of Constantine and his stories were all competent but as you've mentioned the many callbacks and reuses of Hellblazer's past didn't always work towards his run's favor.

While I didn't mind the changes brought about in the Ravenscar Casino and the Demon Baby arc that much, I wasn't too fond of the big reveal at the end that the Golden Boy had secretly been manipulating John the whole time post-Delano. I found it more powerful/relatable when the downward moments of John's life were the result of his own fuck-ups, rather than his multiverse abortion twin trying to break his spirit. Diggle's run began with swagger but I always felt that it ended on a bit of an abrupt anticlimax.

I should stop just looking at cover art and actually examine the names.  This isn't the first time I missed a guest writer!

I'm sure Aaron probably thought to include a rather obscure character as a gesture of fan service without ever actually going back to check whether said character was even alive.  But then, guess twenty years of continuity will cause things like this so I'll give him a pass.

Who was the character Carey brought back?

Oh! "Mortification of Flesh" was actually quite good.  Constantine playing all sides is always fun, and it actually had a nice bit of thematic relevance as well.  Definitely my favorite Diggle story.

I didn't like the Golden Boy reveal either, but I will say that I'm not sure if it was purely Diggle's fault.  It seems more like a product of it's time.  Going through these last few runs, I feel like Hellblazer stopped being what Delano started when thr Jenkins era ended.  The Ellis - Azz - Carey trilogy had some elements, but also took it to completely different places, ending with it being more "normal" with a push for longer arcs.  Then comes the Mina - Diggle - Milligan trio which almost seems to make it mainstream.  Very heavily plot based with much more action and large-scale situations.  While this began in the Carey run, it seemed to be the focus of every major arc in Mina and Milligan's eras; which is why I respect Diggle.  He tried to dial everything down, but still keep it to the style the series was heading towards.

It's just odd to see a series go from being about a guy who cons his way out of the supernatural, but is always hit hard when it comes to the natural to a man that's shooting lightning bolts and actively performing chants to battle over-sized Indian gods.

33 minutes ago, Bran the Blessed said:

Wait did Diggle not write his stories himself ? I'm a bit confused there.

And I'd assume that he may have just not known she got offed by Nergal. Honestly I wonder if any of these writers had any thorough knowledge of the Delano stories when taking over, seeing it was a bit of a competely different animal by then.

Aaron was a guest writer for the Newcastle two-parter.

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Christian    734

Yes, which shows that it can be hard to predict how well a writer will do writing a John Constantine story. Jason Aaron is a great writer, yet he wrote one of the worst Hellblazer stories.

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25 minutes ago, Christian said:

Yes, which shows that it can be hard to predict how well a writer will do writing a John Constantine story. Jason Aaron is a great writer, yet he wrote one of the worst Hellblazer stories.

Yeah.  In fact, I'd say all of the Hellblazer writers are good at their trade.  It's the series itself that isn't versatile (or rather not without sacrificing what makes it Hellblazer).

Makes me wonder who would have worked better than writers like Mina or Azz.  

Neil Gaiman is probably the only person I could think of.  Grant Morrison?

Like you said though, it's almost impossible to go by prior works of the writer to judge their ability to writer for the series.

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Jason, you summed up my thoughts on the Diggle run almost to the letter.  It wasn't so much the call backs and constant springboarding off of old continuity, it was that the humanity seemed to be leeched from the series.  There was that podcast that was released for Hellblazer's 25th anniversary that had a round table interview with Delano, Lloyd, Milligan, and Diggle, and listening to that really informed where Diggle was coming from as a writer on the book.  He was a Hellblazer fanboy, particularly of Delano, and he kept saying "Jamie, did you know I did this in my run?  I brought back the Golden Boy?  I had him drinking gin n' tonics again?"  Delano kind of brushed it all off, but you could tell that Diggle was very proud to have brought back all of that past stuff.  Unfortunately, I think all of those plot mechanics really sucked the life out of Constantine as a character.  Like you said, Jason, that bit at the end with John and Chas was a real breath of fresh air for the series, and I hated that Diggle couldn't have done more of THAT during his run.  Who knows, though, maybe Diggle had more in him than I'm giving him credit for, his run was chopped halway through and according to him had some really heavy editorial pushback.

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On 10/3/2017 at 11:15 AM, Ixnay by Night said:

Who knows, though, maybe Diggle had more in him than I'm giving him credit for, his run was chopped halway through and according to him had some really heavy editorial pushback.

That last point is really telling.  I guess what Hellblazer used to be associated with was no longer what was being looked for.  Which really ties into how there really hasn't been anything quite like it in recent years.  Plots have gotten more complex, and entertaining at the expence of seeing a bunch of guys talking about stuff in a pub.

------

I figured I'd wait to comment again until I finished Milligan's run.  

Firstly, as a whole, the run was a bit up and down.  I didn't like it as much as Diggle's, but stories like "Scab" were better than what Mina had.  Unfortunately, I cant really remember much past "Scab" being particularly interesting.  The rest wasn't necessarily bad they just weren't particularly great either.  As shoehorned in as it was I actually didnt mind the Finn storyline.  That arc was rather solid. Really, like a lot of the later runs, I wouldn't give a Milligan issue to anyone and say, "here read this, maybe you'll get something out of it" instead it's "here, read this, you'll be entertained for a few minutes."

Epiphany was alright, but the fact that her and John's relationship was built off some long-lasting unrequited love that came from absolutely nowhere made it hard to believe in.  Had Piffy been a child that was seen during the Delano run and made a re-appearence during Milligan's run at least it would have had some basis, but I digress.

The rest of the cast was hit or miss.  Julien was pretty good though; genuinely creepy at times.

Alright, now I feel the need to talk about two issues in particular: 275 and 300.

John's wedding was one of the most dissappointing issues I've read of a beloved series.  Nergal was a complete waste, I'm not sure why he was even there.  When did Hell become so petty that their sole goal was to make sure Constantine was not hurt, but just baseline unhappy?  Why did every new writer have to butcher what made the character of John so easy to relate to, making it so otherworldly forces are the real cause of his unhappiness rather than Constantine being himself?  Past that we have Gemma.  I'll accept that she was broken, I can slightly understand that (despite being fine in the Mina run).  What I don't get is what they chose to do with her.  The girl was raped, and as sad as it is to say it I could care less.  It was thrown out there for shock value with every subsequent scene she was in dealing with her acting in a way wherein everyone says, "Gemma you're being stupid."  All Milligan showed was her mistakes, and not in a way to showcase her as a human, but it almost seemed liked she was presented as a nuisance (which seems to be a trait of Milligan with Angie being reduced to a vessel for fat jokes - unless I'm seriously misinterpreting all this).  Gemma went from a character who showcased another side of Constantine's life and world, to one that was reduced to being the cliche irritating child.  And here I was thinking after the wedding their would be a split perspective showcasing the happiness in John's life and the overwhelming, struggle that Gemma's life is.  But like everything else with this run it boiled down to summoning demons and light-up hands.  Also, is it just me or was inviting all his old loves especially cruel of John? I'm not sure if that was the point, but it seemed more like Milligan just wanted old characters to show up.

As for Issue 300: Maybe it would have been best to just have the real joke be that Constantine was actually dead...?  What we got was a really strange, wishy-washy idea.  Finn comes back and is destroyed because he met John yet Ghost John tries to sort him out.  So what was the point?  John ruins things or fixes them?  As for the actually ending, it's ambiguous, but I'm choosing to take it that Gemma saying "Uncle" after shooting John is years later when she finds him in a pub which is why he looks so surprised.  In hindsight, I actually wouldn't have been upset with an It's a Wonderful Life situation; had John died and Issue 300 consisted of him and The First going around looking at his life.  There wouldn't even need to be a debate.  Just two characters who can go up against each other reflecting on how they've lived.  As it stands now, I see the end as unfinished.  When something ends, there's supposed to be an understanding; a resolution and relevation.  All this amounted to was the question of "What really happened?"  I didn't take anything away from the end of this 300 issue series.  I closed it, and immediately went to Rake at the Gates of Hell and RSVP to get a proper conclusion.  A conclusion that explores John's character and presents various ideas regarding him, the series, and the reader.

On a much lighter note, I read "All His Engines" and...wow.  That was exceptionally  done.  Creepy, interesting, character driven and thematic.  The way Hellblazer should be.

Anyway, I've droned on a bit too long.  Just figured I'd close with a thank you.  Nice to know this forum is still here to discuss things!

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