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Hellblazer #212

Your marks out of 10 for Hellblazer #212  

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  1. 1. Your marks out of 10 for Hellblazer #212

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Hellblazer #212

 

fhb212.jpg

 

(W) Mike Carey

(A) Leonardo Manco

(Cover) Tim Bradstreet

 

The horrifying conclusion of the 6-part "Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go." Once again, Constantine finds himself making deals in hell. But when one of his trademark schemes backfires with the First of the Fallen, John may inadvertently doom the soul of one of his closest and dearest friends.

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Well after several issue of not much happening, here almost too much happened. Without getting into details, the Hellblazer universe is now short a few characters. As with the conclusions of many Constantine tales throughout the years, the reliance on magic-babble wrapped things up a little too neat. I hoping the next few issues tie up things up for John and his family and then any writer from Mina on can be a little more flexable with the situations Constantine can be in. I like the idea of having some more self-contained Constantine stories from now on. Not so much the linear timeline that has each new writer picking up where the last one left off. With the upcoming novels and the short Mina tenure, I'd that such an outlook might stay off the sense of re-treading on old stories that has reared its head somewhat in Carey's run.

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Solid 9.

 

This is more like it!

John has been way too invincible lately. He always seems to screw up, but yet, at the same time, he seems to bounce back totally unharmed, with little change.

This time is different. John really screwed up this time, but of course, in the end, he "won", just like used to "win" in the old days.

This is good stuff!

Not only did John "win"*, but the First came across as a strong villain again.

 

I'm not going to say this issue was perfect, and without the rest of Carey's run being very character-driven, it will be a very out-of-place story, but I think Carey's going to succeed with the end of his run.

 

Biggest complaint:After things fall apart, John calls the First a "[over-used word]bubble". Now, I'm not sure if this is some horrible name in England, but to me, it sounded like something a 13 year old would come up with to call someone on the playground.

 

*I'm saying "win" like this to avoid any spoilers. After you read the issue, you'll understand what I mean.

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I could swear Mike's used it more than once already during his run, although I can't for the life of me remember when...

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A nine for me as well.

 

Wow, that was a powerful, Delano-esque ending. And yes, Christian was right, the First became a competent villain again.

 

Overall, it was a fast-paced, no-time-for-stopping issue. And I liked it that way. And I loved the First's subtle little jab at the movie Constantine. That got a laugh from me.

 

One question:

 

Did Nergal die? I know the First ripped Cheryl's soul out of him, but we never got any word on if he was dead or not.

 

So yeah, I'm definitely looking forward to these final three issues.

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Hol-ee socks. I did not see that ending wallop coming! Definite 9 here, even though I was getting a little restless with First of the Fallen's

deux ex machina-like appearance toward the climax--bim bam boom, lemee help you out here John--and just like that, the family from hell are shark chum.

 

More than agree with others though, that this conclusion is "the good old stuff." Will haunt me for days. Great job, Mike/Leo.

 

P.S.

Also unclear as to Nergal's fate, Grinning Fellow. On the last page, we hear John musing to himself, "I went to hell and I came back. In one piece. More or less. While my enemies burned black and crispy."

Ambiguous as to whether this includes Ratso or not.

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Guest spiderlegs

The surprise ending gets high marks from me, too. Not a happy ending at all.

 

I am going to reread the entire arc in one sitting and see how it stacks up.

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Alrighty then. This is the good ol' stuff.

 

No spoilers here, but I just gotta say that even though Carey's run is still not in my opinion the "best ever", it stacks up there quite nicely. Constantine's victories should be pyrrhic. They should hurt. John and those around him.

 

(Of course he should also be a blonde brit from Liverpool/London, but let's not re-open old wounds..heh)

 

Just saw that Mssr Bradstreet will be leaving us come issue 215. To be honest, I don't think it's quite settled in yet. I'm not sure what my reaction will be when I see the cover of #216 in my decrepit little monkey-hands. Unless Vertigo finds someone extremely talented, I may just cry....

 

Thanks for the amazing ride, Tim. May you be back sooner than you could say "[over-used word]bubble".

 

.....oh...and I missed the bit about the novels as well. When are they due out, and who's slated to pen them?

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Hol-ee socks. I did not see that ending wallop coming! Definite 9 here, even though I was getting a little restless with First of the Fallen's

deux ex machina-like appearance toward the climax--bim bam boom, lemee help you out here John--and just like that, the family from hell are shark chum.

 

Well, it can't be (here's that much misused attempt at criticism again) "deus ex machina", as The First has been there through most of this arc, saying he'll just stand by and wait and see how it ends out as long as he isn't going to be cheated of his eventual triumph over Constantine.

 

I like the way we were so preoccupied with predicting John's mode of victory and/or Nergal's potential slips that we missed The First sees John's in the shit and rubs his face in it.

 

A smashing climax to the arc.

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Actually, I was thinking about this today, so I'm going to offer a counterpoint to Christian's thoughts that John's been invincible lately.

 

Now, I agree with this. It seems that, barring these past six or seven issues, he hasn't really suffered a costly victory since Good Intentions. However, when you look at like that, we realize that, when he finally takes a beating in his win, it's going to affect him a lot more.

 

Maybe even John himself realizes this, and he's going to be utterly crushed by this burden in the next three issues.

 

It's a thought to ponder.

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I had a nice expository reply, but there's a bad storm here, and the power went out for a minute.

So, I'll just say, "Good point, Grinning".

We all get some victories in our life every so often, and after we've gotten those victories and we get dealt a major loss it always make it so much worse.

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I like that the cover is a bit of a departure from Tim's usual style.

 

Great issue, an 8 from me. I could see Tony's fate playing out but not Cheryl's. I'm suprised she went that route. I woulda told Tony to fuck off.

 

Cheers to Mike for making the 1st cool again.

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Thank fuck that's over with, finale was on a par with the rest of the arc for me, just not feeling it at all.

 

 

Damn right.

 

Too rushed.

Everyone was too quickly dispatched, when they still where narratively fertile.

Even if thats the point, it made for shit comic reading personally.

Wrapped up for the sake of being wrapped up really.

 

Great delano esque pyric victory, but i want to explore the emotional ramifications now dammnit!

Heres hoping the last three do that.

But hey I gave it a 6 , so it was far better than i thought it would be.

 

The First rocks, i say this for the first time ever.

 

Would everyone please stop reminding me that Brad is leaving, it hurts deep inside.

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10/10. Oh yes.

 

A tremendous end to the arc - it's a bit out of character for The First to be that smart but fuck it, at least he's a genuinely menacing bad guy now. I'd like to see more of Mike's take on the First, so it is a bit of a shame that he'll be going soon. I'd be more than happy to see Mike come back to write a great FotF story, though.

 

I really don't get these accusations of it being "rushed", though - Rosa and the kids have been around for a year and a half exactly and aside from Maria (who is still alive and can therefore be revisited by future writers), they've all been fairly simple characters. I don't think much more could be, or needs to be, done with them. It all came together in a satisfying climax, like the best stories, and no doubt Mike'll be sorting out the aftermath in the next three issues.

 

The only bits I didn't like were John "winning" because of the actions of someone else rather than his own plotting, and the "[over-used word]bubble" line which just sounds really forced ("you fucking [over-used word]" would have had more impact and been more realistic, too). Oh, and some more continuity-fucking with the "Nergal's father" comment but I'm beyond caring about that by this point.

 

I could swear Mike's used ([over-used word]) more than once already during his run, although I can't for the life of me remember when...

 

"You doss [over-used word]", from the strip club owner in Reasons to be Cheerful #1. Ennis used it in Son of Man as well.

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8/10. great art, and a very good wrapup to a storyline that was way too long, but still very interesting. I think this will read much better in a trade. Great way to end it. really curious what the last few Carey issues will be like...

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7/10 - a pretty well-executed end to a badly-paced, overlong story arc which just didn't work for me. The "[over-used word]bubble" line was lousy, but that's hardly a deal-breaker - and the First may have been "out of character", but given how shit that character has traditionally been, that could only have been an improvement - which it was. Genuinely nasty, smart and cruel - a decent villain for possibly the first time ever, and it's a shame he's only appeared in about 3 issues of Mike's run.

 

The actual end of the arc, and the pyhrric nature of John's "victory" worked really well, and was about as close to classic Hellblazer as we've seen since 'Ward 24/Out Of Season' (the last Carey arc which I unequivocally enjoyed) - but the story surrounding it did nothing for me, and this finale did nothing to change that. Still, now that it's over I'm really looking forward to the next three issues - however much I've complained about the route he's taken to get here, Mike's worked John into a genuinely interesting place, and I'm curious to see where he's going to go from here.

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9 - I just love the way Manco draws the First and while I agree he seems to have gained a few brain cells in this run, I think it's fair enough.... after all if you can't improve yourself over eternity you're just not trying!

 

The story played out well for me, and I loved some of the background dialogue especially the "conkers" line and "The best part of you ran down your Mother's leg" heh. Loved most of the artwork, just a couple of bits may have seemed a bit rushed, but the frame with Tony raising the knife with Gemma's reflection in it, is absolutely top draw - I would have been quite happy with that being a full page.

 

One slight niggle, and this is just me I'm sure, is when

the First offers to share Tony's torments with Cheryl by sharing them equally between them... well to my mind it doesn't matter if he halves the torments or divides them by a hundred, they are going to continue forever, so even if you only get 5 a day instead of 10, it's still gonna be 5 a day forever - so what the fuck does Cheryl really save him from? If everyone else has read it as the intensity of the torment rather than the quantity, then apologies as that makes it a more understandable sacrifice. Silly inconsequential point but I don't like to see a good woman throwing themselves after bad :biggrin:

 

Raise a toast to poor auld Nergal.... mostly dead I would guess.

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Mark, I agree with that.

I was just so glad to get these horrid characters and stories wiped from the slate that it didn't matter how rushed or contrived it may have seemed.

Get the bad out of the way, get that great ending on, and we're off!

 

Lost-I think you answered your own question, in part. Also, I think it was some message about the "power of love" or something.

But, if you're familiar with the DCU you'll know that Hell is not eternal. You can redeem yourself and eventually work your way into Heaven or reincarnation or something better.

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I don't know if James remembers but I couldn't shut-up about the high hopes I had for the Carey/Manco run on Hellblazer at Bristol two years ago.

 

The second part of Out Of Season came out the day before the con and it was damn near perfect, a tense storyline topped off by a brilliant piece of Constantine misdirection. Granted the art wasn't by Manco but we'd just gotten two solid issues from him and he'd only recently been confirmed as the new ongoing artist.

 

Things haven't quite worked out as well as I'd hoped but at least there's a nice foundation there for Mike's last three issues - overall I'd have to say that the Demon Kids story hasn't played out well at all, leading to a year of pretty poor stuff overall. No offensive intended to Mike at all, Lucifer is still the fucking business but something went terribly wrong here.

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Guest spiderlegs

Cruel and harsh, ye's are! I don't think the pacing was too long, maybe by one issue. Ordinarily, I bow to the greater HELLBLAZER experts of this board, but not this time. WHile it wasn't perfect and there are things each of us might change, this arc was as entertaining as it was compelling. I've never been at the comic shop the Wednesday each issue was released for this many issues in a row (I think back to 200, I've gotten all of them on day 1-with maybe one exception).

 

What were you guys expecting or looking for that you didn't get from this arc or from the last year in the series? When you consider the film disaster, the state of comics in 2005, and how few great comics are out there, this is fucking gold. I'm not saying that everything else sucking lifts HELLBLAZER up at all, but in a world SO DEVOID of quality and imagination, HELLBLAZER is the solace I can find each month if nothing else stands out. Of course, I can barely remember what I did today, but that should have no bearing on the point at hand.

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I won't argue that H.B. is one of the top titles on the market at the moment, but that just shows how sad the comic market currently is, as even though Carey's H.B. was certainly well-written, it was hardly groundbreaking or original.

"Lucifer" is almost always head and shoulders leagues ahead of H.B., for me anymore. (this could conceivably change in the next few months, of course, if Carey focuses on John's emotions)

Of course, it's probably also very unfair to judge the newest issue of H.B. against Delano's run on the series or a series like "Lucifer".

 

The past year was disappointing because there was a lack of characterization. Everything was happening with little to no breaks in between to let us know how everything was affecting John.

John's kids were hardly a gripping story-line and adding in so much action and fantasy in lieu of characterization really ruined things for me.

I read H.B. for John Constantine, not a horror story or an action/adventure story or whatever. There's plenty of places I could go to read a really gripping horror story, if that's what I was after. It's John Constantine that makes H.B. unique.

 

The current story-arc disappointed me because it was John goes to Hell and is involved in some stories that would fit well in "Lucifer". I just didn't feel the tone or the premise of the current story-arc belonged in H.B. It left me disinterested until the ending of the newest issue, which effectively ended the story-arc, and put away most of the plots that I found faulty in the past year or so of H.B.

 

Would I rather read this than a comic based on the movie? Hell, yeah! But, that doesn't make me worship something because it's not as bad it could be.

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I don't know if James remembers but I couldn't shut-up about the high hopes I had for the Carey/Manco run on Hellblazer at Bristol two years ago.

...

No offensive intended to Mike at all, Lucifer is still the fucking business but something went terribly wrong here.

 

Yup I remember that and whilst very few storylines have hit the highs of Out of Season since, I'm nowhere near as disappointed as you are. Yes, Stations of the Cross was a little thin and I wasn't an enormous fan of Event Horizon but the only really bad storyline since then has been the woefully underperforming Reasons to be Cheerful, which (and this is probably far too harsh a thing to say, but...) really did feel like Mike really was writing for the trade.

 

But there have been some really cracking stories, too - Happy Families worked both as self-contained weirdness and a foundation for the kids storyline, Down in the Ground... has been consistently satisfying after that first issue (and isn't like Lucifer at all, setting aside) and Cross Purpose is one of the best single-issue Hellblazer stories of the book's 212-issue run.

 

Nothing's perfect - Manco's art has never hit the highs of his first two issues, although this issue has come awfully close to recapturing that magic, and Mike really has made some continuity clunkers as well as making the comic very unfriendly to new readers in the latter part of his run. But for the most part, I've found the stories to be consistently good stuff and usually at the top of my reading pile (although it's been getting stiff competition from Lucifer, Walking Dead and some of the Seven Soldiers books).

 

I do think that the comic could have done with a little break inbetween Happy Families and Reasons to be Cheerful, so John could actually stop and think about all the shit he's caused. But it looks like we'll be getting that over the next three months anyway.

 

And hey, speaking of which - what happened to all those false memories John was weighed down with after Happy Families?

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