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Patsboy101

At Last I've Discovered The Holy Grail

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Finally! I found a forum site to discuss all things Hellblazer. Yeah, if this reaction didn't give it away, I was absolutely dying to talk about Hellblazer. I've been a Hellblazer fan for a few months and in those few months, I've read up to Milligan's run just before John gets married and stopped there due to not enjoying what I was reading.  

This is a character I found so interesting and he's so three-dimensional. It's why I find it really depressing that Johnny boy doesn't get the attention he deserves. It's oddly fitting considering how normal and insignificant John is, but that's why his story is so compelling. Putting him in a world of capes takes away the sense of realism which is funny of me to say because Conjob interacts with mythology and uses magic, but he deals with some very real life issues that he can't always magic or con away. It also means the man can never age again being part of the world of capes, and I find that part really relatable. As John aged and changed, I age and change. Maybe some people want try to escape the fact that they are aging and going to die, and they go to superheroes because they are never changing in a sense. Maybe I'm just fine with the fact that I am going to get old and die eventually. Perhaps that's why I drift towards a character like Vertigo John. I want to see characters develop, get older ,and die and stay dead because real life is just that. There isn't a Lazarus Pit to resurrect your loved ones, becoming part of the Speed Force, or a Kryptonian Regeneration Matrix to make everything all better. Don't get me wrong, I love superheroes, but I'm finding that I'm starting to prefer stories about the everyday joe. Even a godly being such as Morpheus I find more interesting than most capes.

I've been reading some of the posts around here about Diggle's run and I am starting to understand why making John's guilt manifest into a baby that he could kill off or attributing all of the bad ordeals John went through to the Golden Boy by the power of coincidence are hurtful to John's development. And I do like the interpretation of the end of Delano's run that it was the last story of DCU John and everything after that was an alternate universe story. There are some really thoughtful people around here. 

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Welcome to the forum!

How did you first cross Constantine's path ?

I quite like seeing John interact with various members of the superhuman community but in that context I think he works better as a guest star, the narky outsider there to poke fun and more seriously represent the every man in those catastrophic conflicts between God-like beings.

 

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Personally. I find it more depressing that Spider Man and Batman are going to continue long after I'm dead (well, unless I live to see the collapse of civilization). I'm sure still doing the exact same things as I was reading about them doing, over and over again.

It doesn't seem right that these characters we grew up reading about will outlive us, and they'll never see an ending, while all of us will have an ending.

It's not that our having an ending is a bad thing, but that all these things will outlast us. I guess that was part of Grant Morrison's point about escaping in to his own fiction during the end times, so that he can live forever too.

Anyway, yeah. The idea that John Constantine would have an ending, and not be stuck in the same loop of "eternal return" of the corporate-owned superhero properties was some aspect of the appeal of his character. He was going to have an ending, just like all of us. Now, he'll forever be dredged up when the editors at DC decide that it's time for yet another relaunch. He'll still be doing the same shit over and over again after this Forum, and everyone on it, is dead and gone.

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9 hours ago, Patsboy101 said:

I've read up to Milligan's run just before John gets married and stopped there due to not enjoying what I was reading.  

 

Welcome!

Yeah, I dropped off right around there as well, and have yet to look at anything Hellblazer related since. I was a big advocate of him coming into the DCU proper, as that is where he really came from, but by the sounds of it they've kind of overdone it or not quite done it right. Mix it up with Etrigan, Deadman and Zatanna? OK. The Bat? Not so much.

Anyways, I am currently going through Azzarello's run. It is a lot better than I recall it being but it has it's bad moments too. Of course, I am not at Ashes and Dust yet.

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I wouldn't say it is due to his interactions with the DCU which have been the major problem with JC after the character leaving Vertigo. John's interactions with the rest of the DCU have actually been kept relatively minimal within his own books.

It's just been a very watered down version of John, with shallow plots, that have really been the problem with the "New 52", "Convergence", and "Rebirth" iterations of HB.

It's like John is still doing the same things as he was doing, over and over again, except without any substance underneath any of it.

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3 hours ago, Lou K said:

Anyways, I am currently going through Azzarello's run. It is a lot better than I recall it being but it has it's bad moments too. Of course, I am not at Ashes and Dust yet.

The Azzarello run although weird, I interpreted his run like John wrote a really bad fanfiction about himself. John while writing, "So, I went to prison, escaped, went on a journey across America, I might had or not had sex with a dog, killed all the skinheads, and got into some really kinky stuff with SW Manor." The stories I enjoyed the most out of the Azzarello era were Freezes Over along with Lapdogs and Englishmen. After Ashes and Dust, I really needed Mike Carey's High on Life where Cheryl gives John the smackdown about giving everyone the scare about being officially dead on paper.

 

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I thought Hard Time was good, but man Corben's art was pretty off. And I say that as a big fan of his work since I was a kid. Had some bad perspective in some of those scenes.

 

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13 hours ago, JohnMcMahon said:

How did you first cross Constantine's path?

Well, I was in a pub, drinking a stout at the bar and I noticed this old bloke in his mid 60’s from the corner of my eye in a trench coat sitting in the corner alone just drinking and chain-smoking from a pack of Silk Cuts. He had a very distinctive scar over his left eye. There was this look in his eyes that told me that I should avoid him at all cost, but there was undeniably some deep pain he was carrying around in those eyes. I believed he noticed me looking at him and I looked in a different direction, pretending like I never saw the man. He got up from his seat and started walking towards the entrance. But he stopped where I was sitting and put his right hand on my left shoulder. There was something about his touch. It was like the Devil had touched me and I couldn’t move until he allowed it. The words that came out of his mouth were, “Don’t you worry, old son. I don’t bite.” He had this grin on his face. He removed his hand from my shoulder and left the pub. I didn’t move until the door had closed and I got out of my seat when it had. I opened the door and I was looking in every direction for the man himself, but he had disappeared. I carefully walked back into the pub and sat back down to enjoy the stout I was previously drinking. I asked the barkeep, “Do you know who that man was?” He said to me, “Oh, that would be John Constantine. My advice: best keep your distance from him.”

Well in actual reality, I first met John in the pages of Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 by Alan Moore. I found John intriguing because he was this mystery man who messed around with Swamp Thing as a way to train his powers in the Green. I loved Moore’s Swamp Thing and his Constantine so much that I had to check out Jamie Delano’s Hellblazer. I really started loving John’s character during the Family Man storyline and the aftermath of that event.

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Now there's a post that's full of win and then some.

Welcome aboard. It's always nice to see somebody new in here, particularly when they're doing that with their third post.

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Azz's run was a lot better than I remember (even Ashes and Dust). Maybe the second time's the charm. It has it's faults, but I like that he was dedicated to the long game right from the get go, as opposed to writing a smashing introductory first arc then spinning wheels til they fall off.

Warren Ellis's run was, well, short and pretty much not worth remembering or even reading a second time.

I think from here I will go backwards and read Paul Jenkins run, which I've often thought to be boring. Maybe the second time will be better.

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I think you might end up changing your mind on Jenkins, especially being older when you read it.

I remember being really bored by Jenkins' run when I initially read it too, while also thinking it was completely out of place in Hellblazer. Now, it's easily my second favourite run, after Delano, and really his and Delano's are the only Hellblazer writers I have any interest in re-reading at this point.

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I started with Jenkins so that may cloud my judgement somewhat but I'm very fond of his run, Critical Mass remains probably my favourite ever Hellblazer story.  Interested in hearing how that goes for you Lou - and you impressions of Azzarello's stint from a reread have me tempted to go back and maybe check it out again.  Memories of Dog Fucking and Joker Analogs still weigh heavy though!

 

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I like Patsboy take on the Azzarello run. It really does seem completely plausible now....although, sort of sad that John wasn't a better horror/noir writer.

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2 hours ago, JohnMcMahon said:

Critical Mass remains probably my favourite ever Hellblazer story. 
 

Critical Mass is an absolutely essential hellblazer tale. If I’m looking for definitive works on the character I’m looking at that arc and also Dangerous Habits and probably the first two issues of Delano’s run with the hunger demon. And probably family man. 

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I's go with the "Dead Boy's Heart" story from Delano, as a story that shows what defines John as a person. "Dangerous Habits" for that "Dark Phoenix Saga"/"Days of Future Past" story-arc that everyone who is a fan of said character(s) must read. Then, "Critical Mass", definitely. I'd say those are the three quintessential Hellblazer tales, if you are solely going to recommend three stories to spotlight what the Hellblazer comic is about.

I'm not a fan of the "Hunger Demon" two-parter, to be honest, even though it is Delano. I've always thought it was one of Delano's weaker stories. I never found it a good introduction to the character, as a first issue is supposed to work. It's not bad, but Delano's run would just become so much better.

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Oh I thought it did a great job of letting you know just what kind of man John is, pretty much the template followed by everyone thereafter.  

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I mean, I guess there was some of that....especially in that he was willing to sacrifice his friends for the greater good. I just wasn't really grabbed by the plot. It involved John as more of this globe-trotting type character, more similar to how he was portrayed in Moore's Swamp Thing. I felt that Delano moved very far away from that sort of direction very quickly after his run took off.

I don't know. I've always felt that if I picked up Hellblazer #1 and #2 as my first taste of JC, that I don't know if I would have been grabbed enough to continue reading the book.

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So now I am in Carey's run, sort of by accident, because I wanted to see

On 7/19/2019 at 12:47 PM, Patsboy101 said:

Mike Carey's High on Life where Cheryl gives John the smackdown about giving everyone the scare about being officially dead on paper

which led to Red Sepulcher and a Game of Cat and Mouse so I may as well finish this run out before I get too forgetful.

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As well as the usual suspects for Carey, I've always really liked the two parter with Gemma and Gant on Gruinard and Out Of Season as well.

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Does anyone remember what happened in 186?

That's one issue before the Gruinard Island 2 parter.

I've been going through Carey's run and could not find that one so I said 'fuck it' and decided to move on without it.

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Is that part of one of the shadow dog story? I think the Gruinard story is an interlude in the middle of that, isn't it?

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Oh yeah, I remember it had something to do with the genocide against the inhabitants of Tasmania.

I was going to say that we had our thoughts and reviews for all those issues of Hellblazer on this web-site somewhere (Adrian set up an archive*), so you could've looked for what we were saying about that issue when it was initially released.

*Well, it looks like the archives only start with the 200s though.

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