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Adventures In America

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Guest RV

Hey, I've been reading through the whole Hellblazer series so far, ever since I watched the film. They are awesome, much better than the film (though the film was good in its own ways.) I love Constantine - I live five miles away from Liverpool, and he is the greatest scouser ever! :biggrin:

I've recently finished the rather large story arc involving John's incarceration for Lucky's suicide, and I found the whole atmosphere immensely satisfying.

However, I'm somewhat left in the dark as to quite what happened over the whole story. It would seem to me that John has turned into quite an evil man, whereas before he was markedly gray and apathetic to everything.

I've read the synopses at Straight To Hell, but they aren't much clearer than the comics...

Therefore, I'm here to ask you experts the questions (and there are quite a few), and if possible, could you please help me out with them. Thanks!

BTW - I'm sorry if some of them sound stupid, but I'm trying to make sure what I think is right as well. Thanks again!

 

1. In Hard Time Part One, (#146), John drives a few would-be rapists insane. It's something to do with the cigarettes - but what is it?

 

2. In Hard Time Part Four (#149), John starts causing all kinds of crazy shit in the prison. Everywhere something goes mad, you can see a black fingerprint on the wall? What is the relevance?

Also, all the prisoners rush to offer him a cigarette? Is this the result of hypnotic suggestion? Or some weird kind of psychic energy sent out because of John's nicotine withdrawl?

 

3. What was the point of Good Intentions Part One (#151)? It seemed to have no relevance to that story arc... and why was John so obsessed with the damn roadkill? Is it some kind of metaphor for the car left at the side of the road?

 

4. In Good Intentions Part Two (#152), why does John not free the girl? I know now that she is chained up, and presumably on a webcam, to make money for the town. But he didn't know that.

 

5. What is the deal with the Razorback wannabe in the Good Intentions story arc? Dickie makes a comment that suggests it is his fault the creature exists... but it is never explained. And why is it all demonic?

 

6. What was the deal in ...And Buried? (#157). It didn't explain how that guy was still alive... or even if it was the same fellow. Anyone got any theories? Only thing I can think of is that it relates closely to the White Supremecists later on.

 

7. In the Freezes Over story arc, someone saves the little girl at the end... is Pete, the guy that Constantine went for a walk with? Did Constantine use hypnotic suggestion to make him believe he is the Iceman? And if he did, how did he know that it would serve that purpose?

 

8. Again, for the Freezes Over story arc, why did that guy in the car outside top himself?

 

9. At the end of the Lapdogs and Englishmen Two Parter, who is the strange guy talking to Angie? It can't be the First Of The Fallen, because he was never aware of what Constantine would get up to. If it's something you find out about later, please don't tell me! I've stopped reading them for now.

 

10. In Highwater Part Three (#166), why does John assist Gage in clearing away the dead body of Wolfman? So he can use it as a golem? Incidentally, I thought it was a nice touch that John use a golem (the word golem being derived from Jewish mystique) to dispense of the Neo Nazis.

 

11. At the end of Highwater Part Three, why does John bother suggesting the Neo-Nazi's take revenge on Gage... if he knows that the Golem is going to kill them?

 

12. At the end of Highwater Part Four, does John burn down the house because he knows it was bought with the money gained by Lucky's suicide?

 

13. Turro isn't married... and he doesn't have a girlfriend (I don't think, that's what he says later on). So why is he so guilty about spit roasting the prostitute with John?

 

14. In Chasing Demons (#169), what does John mean when he says that he knows the man sitting next to him? Is he saying that there is someone just like him in every pub and bar, or is it something more?

 

15. It isn't completely explained in the Ashes + Dust storyline what happens in the club... I know that Richie turns up, with the vial of fluid from Hell. Does John hypnotise Richie into pouring it over himself... or does he hypnotise everyone into believing that it is poured over himself, when in fact it isn't?

 

Well, that's the last of my questions. :biggrin: A very big thanks to anyone who can answer just ONE of them. I'm going to read through them again soon, and see what else I can glean from it... but you input will be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot!

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Welcome to the forum man. Coincidentally, I reread the first two issues of Hard Time last night and have a question of my own - how blind were the other prisoners in the second part that they couldn't spot John standing two feet in front of them?!?

 

4. In Good Intentions Part Two (#152), why does John not free the girl? I know now that she is chained up, and presumably on a webcam, to make money for the town. But he didn't know that.

 

I'm sure someone will touch on your other questions but I'll field a couple, starting with this one - there's no logical reason for John's actions in that particular arc. The whole thing is based on a nonsense premise (supporting a whole town on an adult website whose sole attraction appears to be "naked woman chained up in woods").

 

9. At the end of the Lapdogs and Englishmen Two Parter, who is the strange guy talking to Angie?

 

The most asked question in the history of the comic I reckon. The answer is - no-one knows. It was never touched on again.

 

11. At the end of Highwater Part Three, why does John bother suggesting the Neo-Nazi's take revenge on Gage... if he knows that the Golem is going to kill them?

 

Good question! My own take ? Azzarello is rubbish at ending his arcs.

 

13. Turro isn't married... and he doesn't have a girlfriend (I don't think, that's what he says later on). So why is he so guilty about spit roasting the prostitute with John?

 

He's in love with his own sister, John goads him quite a bit on that subject and puts him off the whore.

 

14. In Chasing Demons (#169), what does John mean when he says that he knows the man sitting next to him? Is he saying that there is someone just like him in every pub and bar, or is it something more?

 

Yeah, Brian's attempt at a little Garth Ennis style writing.

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1. In Hard Time Part One, (#146), John drives a few would-be rapists insane. It's something to do with the cigarettes - but what is it?

 

It doesn't say specifically, but its a bit of sympathetic magic. Because the cigarettes belonged to the prisoners, they provide a material link to the prisoners. So, magically speaking, the cigs represent the prisoners. Now, how he gets the cigs to burn, I don't know, but by destroying the cigs, he destroys the prisoners.

 

2. In Hard Time Part Four (#149), John starts causing all kinds of crazy shit in the prison. Everywhere something goes mad, you can see a black fingerprint on the wall? What is the relevance?

Also, all the prisoners rush to offer him a cigarette? Is this the result of hypnotic suggestion? Or some weird kind of psychic energy sent out because of John's nicotine withdrawl?

I thought the fingerprint was a kind of sympathetic magic, too. The prints represent John, so his presence is in every cell. He can effect everyone because he is in the room with everyone.

I like the nicotine withdrawal angle. I never thought of that. I thought he just became the Alpha of the pack. In an earlier issue, John tells God that he knows he's going to hell, but given enough time, he would rule hell. This story arc is a model of what he would do, methinks.

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The simple answer to all your questions is: a lot of the John-in-America stuff doesn't make a whole lot of sense in the context of the series as a whole. It's all a little bit out of character, really. Well, a lot of it is, anyway - not all of it.

 

My solution to the problem was quite simply to read it once and then sort of try to ignore most of it, except for the most central bits which were kept around by Mike Carey, the next writer after Azzarello. I never tried too hard to make sense of it.

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The simple answer to all your questions is: a lot of the John-in-America stuff doesn't make a whole lot of sense in the context of the series as a whole. It's all a little bit out of character, really. Well, a lot of it is, anyway - not all of it.

 

My solution to the problem was quite simply to read it once and then sort of try to ignore most of it, except for the most central bits which were kept around by Mike Carey, the next writer after Azzarello. I never tried too hard to make sense of it.

 

Yeah...what she said!

 

RV, you'll find that a lot of people on this board hate the Azzy stuff. I liked it, myself, but it really wasn't Constantine. Although it was a bit closer than the movie version!

 

Anyway, I think Azzarello had a lot of great ideas and no grasp on the character.

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Hello, RV - welcome to the boards!

 

It's been a while since I read Azzarello's run, but I can probably answer at least a few of your questions...

 

I've recently finished the rather large story arc involving John's incarceration for Lucky's suicide, and I found the whole atmosphere immensely satisfying.

However, I'm somewhat left in the dark as to quite what happened over the whole story. It would seem to me that John has turned into quite an evil man, whereas before he was markedly gray and apathetic to everything.

 

Basically, Brian Azzarello's take on the character is pretty different from that adopted by most other writers to work on the title. It more or less works, I'd say, but his version of John is certainly a lot colder, and harsher, than he has been in the past. If you really want to reconcile it with the wider continuity of the title, think of it as being Constantine's mid-life crisis...

 

1. In Hard Time Part One, (#146), John drives a few would-be rapists insane. It's something to do with the cigarettes - but what is it?

 

Magic. That's all we know - the details are deliberately vague. Presumably, by giving John the cigarettes, the inmates unwittingly gave him some sort of power over them - he made a point of taking one cigarette from everyone at the table earlier in that particular issue, so presumably he was aware of the potential danger, and wanted to sort out some form of magical insurance. This is a recurring theme in Azzarello's Hellblazer - Constantine actually performs a good deal of magic, but we rarely find out precisely how it works. The point, as Azz explained in an interview at the time, was to take the reader outside the con - we're used to having John's narration explaining what he's doing whenever he pulls the wool over someone's eyes, or screws them over - here, we're as much in the dark as his victims, which makes him a more mysterious, enigmatic character. As a narrative device it doesn't always work, but when it does, it's rather effective.

EDIT: Jaynova's explanation of 'sympathetic magic' covers this rather better than I did.

 

2. In Hard Time Part Four (#149), John starts causing all kinds of crazy shit in the prison. Everywhere something goes mad, you can see a black fingerprint on the wall? What is the relevance? Also, all the prisoners rush to offer him a cigarette? Is this the result of hypnotic suggestion? Or some weird kind of psychic energy sent out because of John's nicotine withdrawl?

 

 

As Lucky states when he confronts John in his solitary confinement, "you're losing control". John replies "You might be right. An' if I am...I won't be doing it alone". The implication is essentially a combination of your last two ideas - John essentially used his psychic/magical influence to bring about the riot, in order to get himself some cigarettes. The thumbprints (we see John making one of them himself, presumably using some form of psychic projection) signify that Constantine was indeed behind each of the disturbances - nothing more complicated than that (EDIT: again, the 'sympathetic magic' idea also serves as rather a good explanation for this). It's more than a little out of character for Constantine, I'd say, but the "you're losing control" would suggest that this was deliberately the case - the stress of his situation, coupled with his nicotine cravings, has caused John's (apparently) immense power to assert itself without the control he is normally able to wield over it. Given that Constantine has occasionally been established as a far more powerful magus than he tends to let on, this was an interesting idea, which I haven't seen used in Hellblazer before, and would actually quite like to see explored in greater depth.

 

3. What was the point of Good Intentions Part One (#151)? It seemed to have no relevance to that story arc... and why was John so obsessed with the damn roadkill? Is it some kind of metaphor for the car left at the side of the road?

 

Just a metaphor, yes - but a slightly wider one than that. Essentially, the whole town of Doglick, and it's inhabitants (and, in fact, most of the people John encounters during his American odyssey), are roadkill - insignificant victims left by the side of the highway of modern America - . That's pretty much how I read it, anyway. In a way, this issue was a central one to Azzarello's Hellblazer - it establishes, albeit vaguely, the main themes of his run on the title.

 

4. In Good Intentions Part Two (#152), why does John not free the girl? I know now that she is chained up, and presumably on a webcam, to make money for the town. But he didn't know that.

 

Presumably John wanted to find out what was going on, and exact his revenge on those responsible, and in order to do that, he had to pretend he was unaware of what (he thought) was going on. Slightly dubious characterisation, but there you go.

 

5. What is the deal with the Razorback wannabe in the Good Intentions story arc? Dickie makes a comment that suggests it is his fault the creature exists... but it is never explained. And why is it all demonic?

 

I don't remember the comment you mention, but some of the townspeople believe that the beast is punishment, for the porn business Dickie set up to save the town - that may be what he's referring to. Alternatively, it's mentioned that the beast had been seen before, and had eaten various bodies from the graveyard, but when Dickie and Richie went out to hunt for it, it got away. He could be blaming himself for not continuing the hunt until the beast was caught. As to why it's all demonic - well, it isn't, really. Just fucking huge, as I recall.

 

6. What was the deal in ...And Buried? (#157). It didn't explain how that guy was still alive... or even if it was the same fellow. Anyone got any theories? Only thing I can think of is that it relates closely to the White Supremecists later on.

 

Deliberate ambiguity again. Nothing more complicated...it's pretty clear that he is the same fellow, back from the grave to seek revenge on the men who killed him - but as to how, I'm as much in the dark as you are. Which is precisely the way Azzarello intended it to be. Viewing magic from an outsider's perspective again... he's emphasising the mystery of the occult, rather than the 'how' and 'why' of the whole thing.

 

7. In the Freezes Over story arc, someone saves the little girl at the end... is Pete, the guy that Constantine went for a walk with? Did Constantine use hypnotic suggestion to make him believe he is the Iceman? And if he did, how did he know that it would serve that purpose?

 

Yes, it's Pete who saves the girl, and kills the fleeing murderer. As to how Constantine influenced him into doing so, well, it's not clear. Again. Given the talk about the power of myths and legends, though, it's pretty clear that Pete isn't the first Iceman, and he probably won't be the last.

 

8. Again, for the Freezes Over story arc, why did that guy in the car outside top himself?

 

We don't know. It doesn't really matter.

 

9. At the end of the Lapdogs and Englishmen Two Parter, who is the strange guy talking to Angie? It can't be the First Of The Fallen, because he was never aware of what Constantine would get up to. If it's something you find out about later, please don't tell me! I've stopped reading them for now.

 

That was a sub-plot which Azzarello was apparently going to continue later, but never got round to before leaving the title (earlier than originally planned). It remains unresolved, and presumably always will. Adrian Brown thinks it was Mike Carey. ;)

 

10. In Highwater Part Three (#166), why does John assist Gage in clearing away the dead body of Wolfman? So he can use it as a golem?

 

Presumably so, yes. That and to win Gage's trust, and establish himself as someone with whom One Does Not Fuck.

 

11. At the end of Highwater Part Three, why does John bother suggesting the Neo-Nazi's take revenge on Gage... if he knows that the Golem is going to kill them?

 

Dodgy plotting. Seriously, that's probably the weakest part of Azzarello's run - the rushed conclusion to Highwater was a real disappointment, given the nice work Azz had done with John carefully sowing the seeds of discontent among the neo-nazi rank and file...it really looked as though he was setting up some form of manipulative master-plan, and then got bored and just killed them all with a golem instead. Bad writing on Azzarello's part, sadly.

 

12. At the end of Highwater Part Four, does John burn down the house because he knows it was bought with the money gained by Lucky's suicide?

 

Apparently so, yes.

 

13. Turro isn't married... and he doesn't have a girlfriend (I don't think, that's what he says later on). So why is he so guilty about spit roasting the prostitute with John?

 

Because he fancies his own sister, the filthy degenerate. No, really.

 

14. In Chasing Demons (#169), what does John mean when he says that he knows the man sitting next to him? Is he saying that there is someone just like him in every pub and bar

 

Yes.

 

15. It isn't completely explained in the Ashes + Dust storyline what happens in the club... I know that Richie turns up, with the vial of fluid from Hell. Does John hypnotise Richie into pouring it over himself... or does he hypnotise everyone into believing that it is poured over himself, when in fact it isn't?

 

Could be one, could be the other, could be neither. It's the final ambiguity of many. My theory, for what it's worth, is that Richie did indeed pour the vial over John, but instead of killing Constantine, as he believed it would, it instead caused his own hatred and lust for vengeance to burn him up from the inside. It's never made clear what properties the Hell-soil actually possesses, after all.

 

 

Hope that helps a little. If anyone disagrees with me on any of these answers (and I may be wrong on a few of them...as I said, it's been a while since I read the issues), pipe up, please. The ambiguity of much of Azzarello's run means there are probably a few other possible answers to some of these questions which are at least as valid as mine, anyway.

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Guest RV

Wow... :biggrin: You're all so nice and friendly, I thought I was going to be ridiculed! Awesome!

To be honest, no matter how illogical it was, I really liked this story arc. I liked the fact that is was disturbing because humans are disturbing. It greatly differs from the Son Of Man story arc - Son Of Man was excellent, don't get me wrong, but it never disturbed me as such (apart from the gay fella who gets turfed out by the Demon... ouch), because it was all supernatural. The Saga in America, for me, was much more realistic.

Plus - that damned smile was just soooo cool. I wish I could grin like that!

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Argh, sorry about the double post... Turro likes his own sister!? Where does it say that? Thanks.

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wonderful post Mark. I was a bit miffed about a few of the Azzarello's run issues myself. The Freezes over story was just a throw away, sad.

On another note the death of the dog from doglick(john's short fling) put an extra burden on the town due to its central role in drawing vistors to their porn site.

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Wow...  :biggrin: You're all so nice and friendly, I thought I was going to be ridiculed! Awesome!

To be honest, no matter how illogical it was, I really liked this story arc. I liked the fact that is was disturbing because humans are disturbing. It greatly differs from the Son Of Man story arc - Son Of Man was excellent, don't get me wrong, but it never disturbed me as such (apart from the gay fella who gets turfed out by the Demon... ouch), because it was all supernatural. The Saga in America, for me, was much more realistic.

Plus - that damned smile was just soooo cool. I wish I could grin like that!

Hey RV, we ARE pretty nice, most of the time :D

Why not get yourself registered properly and come hang with us?

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Damn, Mark makes Azz's run seem a lot smarter and more interesting than it actually was.

 

15. It isn't completely explained in the Ashes + Dust storyline what happens in the club... I know that Richie turns up, with the vial of fluid from Hell. Does John hypnotise Richie into pouring it over himself... or does he hypnotise everyone into believing that it is poured over himself, when in fact it isn't?

 

Could be one, could be the other, could be neither. It's the final ambiguity of many. My theory, for what it's worth, is that Richie did indeed pour the vial over John, but instead of killing Constantine, as he believed it would, it instead caused his own hatred and lust for vengeance to burn him up from the inside. It's never made clear what properties the Hell-soil actually possesses, after all.

 

Haven't read any of Azz's stuff for ages, but from what I can remember, John hypnotises Ritchie into spilling the vial on himself ("it's becoming heavier" or something like that). Manor - the only one who really knows John - looks away because he can't bear to see John die, and everyone else in the room only gets glimpses of what's going on. Ritchie burns up and John slips away, but everyone in the room believes John is dead - which is why, when they tell their stories, they claim that they saw John die.

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Argh, sorry about the double post... Turro likes his own sister!? Where does it say that? Thanks.

 

It's alluded to throughout earlier appearances by Turro, in particular at the end of "Hard Time" and later on in "....and buried".

 

Turro made his first appearances outside of Hellblazer, in the Vertigo crime anthology series...ummmmmm.....bugger, I've forgotten the name of it.

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7. In the Freezes Over story arc, someone saves the little girl at the end... is Pete, the guy that Constantine went for a walk with? Did Constantine use hypnotic suggestion to make him believe he is the Iceman?

Pete was already the Iceman. He was influenced into becoming the Iceman by finding bodies of the men killed by the previous Iceman when he (Pete) was a just a boy.

 

John may have figured out that Pete was the Iceman at the moment that he said to Pete (approximately), "I thought you said you never saw a dead body before."

 

 

8. Again, for the Freezes Over story arc, why did that guy in the car outside top himself?

The guy was a serial killer, and John manipulated him into believing that killing himself would be even better than killing other people.

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Bradstreet did the interiors? Excellent! I might pick that up, then.

 

He did the front cover too....which was so fucked up that they decided to cover up half of it at the last minute! It's a shot inside a public bathroom with a dead mob type sitting on a toilet, he looks pretty fucked up so they stuck a little door on the stall to cover him up - you can flip it back to see his remains.

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7. In the Freezes Over story arc, someone saves the little girl at the end... is Pete, the guy that Constantine went for a walk with? Did Constantine use hypnotic suggestion to make him believe he is the Iceman?

Pete was already the Iceman. He was influenced into becoming the Iceman by finding bodies of the men killed by the previous Iceman when he (Pete) was a just a boy.

 

John may have figured out that Pete was the Iceman at the moment that he said to Pete (approximately), "I thought you said you never saw a dead body before."

 

 

8. Again, for the Freezes Over story arc, why did that guy in the car outside top himself?

The guy was a serial killer, and John manipulated him into believing that killing himself would be even better than killing other people.

 

Shit, you're right, aren't you? It really has been too long since I read this stuff - I should go through it again, because Freezes Over in particular is actually a rather good story.

 

Haven't read any of Azz's stuff for ages, but from what I can remember, John hypnotises Ritchie into spilling the vial on himself ("it's becoming heavier" or something like that). Manor - the only one who really knows John - looks away because he can't bear to see John die, and everyone else in the room only gets glimpses of what's going on. Ritchie burns up and John slips away, but everyone in the room believes John is dead - which is why, when they tell their stories, they claim that they saw John die.

 

You might be right, but I prefer my version. It's certainly true that everyone believes John died, although if I recall correctly, none of the witnesses actually saw the event directly - they were all otherwise distracted, so nobody was actually looking when Richie burned up, but they all assume it was John who died.

 

As to making Azzarello's run sound better than it was - well, I don't think I mentioned anything which isn't actually in the books. While I don't think it was a work of unrivaled genius, I certainly think a lot more highly of it than a lot of people around these parts - a few serious flaws aside (the pseudo-Batman gubbins really cocks up the final act, for a start, the end of Highwater is arse, and none of it is quite as clever as Azzarello seems to think it is), I honestly rate it as a pretty good piece of dark psychological noir/horror. It just wasn't particularly Hellblazeresque.

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As to making Azzarello's run sound better than it was - well, I don't think I mentioned anything which isn't actually in the books.

 

The point is that Azz had some fairly good ideas that were ruined in the execution.

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This reading makes it perfect today --- (I glossed over all this my first pass) but finally having gotten Highwater, Setting Sun and Freezes OVer - this tidies up some of the questions I have.

 

Let me add my thanks to all those who replied...

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hi everyone im new here and could use a bit of help and you guys all seem very helpful. could you tell me whether the TPB where JC goes to the USA is any good? Its by Garth Ennis. I liked his Son of Man and Dangerous Habits TPBs but many people tell me that the one set in America is not very good. Any comments?

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Well, I thought it (Damnation's Flame, which is the Ennis/Dillon "Constantine goes to America" trade you're talking about) was shithouse, but lots of people apparently disagree with me. But when people talk about not liking the America-set Hellblazer arc (as in this thread), I'd generally assume they're referring not to Damnation's Flame, but rather to Brian Azzarello's entire run on the title (as reprinted in the Hard Time, Good Intentions, Freezes Over, and Highwater trades), which is generally pretty unpopular with long-term fans.

 

If you enjoyed Dangerous Habits, you may well get a kick out of Damnation's Flame, but I'd recommend that you check out Fear & Loathing and Tainted Love first. They're also by Ennis, and follow on from the events of Dangerous Habits, in that order. Damnation's Flame comes after than, and Ennis' run finishes with Rake At The Gates Of Hell (Son Of Man was a one-off 'return' arc, written and published several years later).

 

Welcome to the boards!

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Well, I thought it (Damnation's Flame, which is the Ennis/Dillon "Constantine goes to America" trade you're talking about) was shithouse, but lots of people apparently disagree with me.

 

Welcome to the boards!

 

Thanks, Mark! the people on this board are so helpful!

 

Does 'shithouse' mean that its good? im guessing it does from what else you say. I've already read tainted love and i liked it a lot but i have not read Fear and loathing. I read one of the Azarello TPBs and did not like it much - I did not feel it was in character at all.

 

So thats one person saying its good. Any others??

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No, "shithouse" means "shit". Sorry...it's a quaint British slang term. But just because I didn't like it doesn't mean you won't - I'm not the biggest fan of Ennis' Hellblazer, personally. Lots of other people around here will doubtless say that I'm wrong.

 

Anyway, if you enjoyed Dangerous Habits and Tainted Love, you really should read it. Fear & Loathing is better, for my money (the title story isn't great, but the trade includes two stand-alone stories which are among the best HB material Ennis ever wrote), and comes before both Tainted Love and ...Flame, so that should probably be your next port of call.

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I actually think Mark meant that Damnation's Flame was not very good when he referred to it as shithouse. It's probably the weakest of the Ennis TPBs but still worth reading.

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