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Hellblazer #200

What did you think of Hellblazer #200 ?  

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  1. 1. What did you think of Hellblazer #200 ?

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    • 5 (middle of the synchronicity highway)
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First Look: Past and Present “Hellblazer” Artists Come Together to Celebrate the Bloody Bastard’s 200th Issue

 

By Sean Fahey

 

You’d be hard pressed to find a more enigmatic character than John Constantine. He’s not quite good, although in many ways he’s the only thing that’s protecting us from hell on earth. But he’s not quite evil either, although he’s left a string of people in his wake that would beg to differ…if they could. To call him an antihero though is just an insult to the complexity of this character. John Constantine is…well, he’s John Constantine. Equal parts con man and warlock. Chain smoker. Heavy drinker. Bend of backwards for a friend. Charming. Revolting. A bad man going after the worst kind of people. A hero. Complex. John Constantine is many things, and this week a couple of Hellblazer alumni get together to congratulate the bastard on his 200th issue.

 

One of the things I’ve always loved about John Constantine is that he shows no fear. He smiles – nay laughs – in the face of certain death. He’s gone up against the worst kind of people, and naturally this means that when his enemies come for him they’re going to come correct, as they do in Hellblazer # 200. The issue is a bit inaccessible at first, but it soon becomes clear that Constantine is being manipulated in the worst possible way, as he “lives” through a succession of fabricated “lives” designed by his enemies for a very specific purpose. It’s a mind job if there ever was one (for both John and the reader), and the ramifications for this character and this series promise to be long running.

 

It’s interesting to see series writer Mike Carey put Constantine through the motions here, and to be honest a little offsetting to see my favorite cocky bastard so weak, indecisive and afraid while being put through the fantasy “lives.” But eventually John figures out which end is up, and it’s great to see the ship righted by the last page. That said, the highlight of this issue is the artwork and the sheer delight of seeing three interpretations of this character – that of legendary Hellblazer artists Steve Dillion and Marcelo Frusin, and current artist Leonardo Manco – in the same book, with each artist drawing one of the constructed “lives” Constantine is put through. It’s solid work all around, but seeing all three side-by-side it’s safe to say that Frusin is the Hellblazer artist of record. His dark, moody and haunting visuals absolutely capture the moral complexity of this character.

 

This book’s a bit of a celebration for longtime Hellblazer readers, not really an ideal jumping on point for new readers – although I suspect that will come with the next issue. Recommended.

 

 

three out of five Vikings

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24 hours real time have passed.

 

None of the fatalities that took place during John's three different lives actually happened in the real world.  So neither Abby nor Gemma are dead.  These realities were magically induced and now exist only as memories in John Constantine's mind.

 

For whatever reason, Rose was able to spit out three Constantine sired sprogs who in-turn all aged to their mid twenties within the space of 24 hours.

 

 

Anyway, I liked the issue, I was looking forward to seeing these "images of days yet to come", but like Mark was slightly confused by how the time scale fits into the present-day John.

 

But I took it to mean that Rosacarnis took 24 hours from John's life (as agreed), but it was 24 hours from 3 possible futures for John. How does that sound? Not quite sure how that will end up with his kids coming back x-number of years to plague John in the present, but I'm sure there'll be an explanation for that someway along the line.

 

 

The ageing fits in sequence near enough.

Let's give them 8 hours each - Adam is young then same age by the end.

Maria is fifteen (?)

 

Best of all, John's memories - his real ones - are clouded by the other three !

Top evil twist from Rosacarnis I feel.

 

Do you guys have a different version of #200 to me because in mine the kids haven't aged to their mid-twenties at the end. Page 44 in panels 2 and 3 you see Angie/Rosa turn up with the two boys and Adam is still a small 5-year old. We don't see Adam again. Page 46 you see Saul and Maria together (possible incest there as they are siblings). All in all the three kids seem to be the same age that they were in each of their own vignettes.

 

I don't think we are seeing possible futures here as the three scenarios are all constructed to the whim of Rosacarnis with her playing the role of the wife and mother in all three instances albeit disguised as women from John's past.

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Loved the issue; I've been having a blast with this comic ever since Staring at the Wall and I'm still enjoying every moment. Loved the transitions from one "lifetime" to the next. Very cinematic. Also enjoyed the reappearance of the "U.S. Tourist Missing" headline in the Manco storyline. Wish there'd been a few more of those...

 

Dillon's art was workmanlike but he's been lacking ever since his early Preacher days. Frusin's art was better than it's been in a while but still lacking in places. Check out the establishing shot of John and Zed's house... Manco's art was great as always, but I have to wonder if he's got a demand to illustrate gouged eyeballs written into his contract.

 

I only have one petty quibble with the writing: Saul's old enough to drive (so he's at least 17), but even if John had got Zed up the duff when he met her, the lad could only be... what, 15-16 at the oldest? Maybe he puts a little magical whammy on the traffic cops. And Zed seemed far too much like a conventional housewife, but as Ade said, she probably doesn't quite "get" women.

 

Still, a corking issue. Even though the central mystery was ruined by the solicits for 202 and 203 I was still entertained and surprised. Here's to the future.

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Hmmm, I thought it was cool but it's my least favourite issue of Mike's run so far.

 

I think the main problem with the book, pretty much since Ennis was writing it is that once John has beaten the "devil" there's very little else he can do that'll live up to it. Therefore the challenges that get thrown his way become increasingly implausible (demon Constantine, John's bastard offspring).

I'll be honest, as much as Azz's run has been maligned by the book's fans, I liked that he scaled back the supernatural aspects of the book. Not so much because I don't like that side of the book, I do, but because putting John through the old "mystical motions" doesn't quite ring the same when he's beaten the devil as many times as he has.

I think Mike did a great job of avoiding that pit-fall and providing us with our occult jollies in the first year or so of his run but I have to say that this plot-line sounds like it'll leave me as cold as all that demon Constantine bollocks.

However, I'm here for the duration and Mike is more than talented enough to confound my expectations.

 

I've always found aniversary issues to be an anticlimax any way.

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Do you guys have a different version of #200 to me because in mine the kids haven't aged to their mid-twenties at the end. Page 44 in panels 2 and 3 you see Angie/Rosa turn up with the two boys and Adam is still a small 5-year old. We don't see Adam again. Page 46 you see Saul and Maria together (possible incest there as they are siblings). All in all the three kids seem to be the same age that they were in each of their own vignettes.

 

I don't think we are seeing possible futures here as the three scenarios are all constructed to the whim of Rosacarnis with her playing the role of the wife and mother in all three instances albeit disguised as women from John's past.

 

 

We have the mass hysteria variant edition,

don't you ?

 

But I see that in the text you quote I say that Adam is the same age at the end.

What I was referring to about "ageing" was the ages of the children throughout the day, me assuming that Maria is older than Saul.

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Do you know, James, it didn't occur to me that the kid's ages were anything to do with how long ago his relationships were.

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Really? Good grief, it's nice to be ahead of you for a change.

 

But it would require Adam to be about ten ...

And although Angie/John is a future shock and looks like Maria would be around 15, Zed was about fifteen years ago.

Nice idea though.

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John and Kit have been together for ten years. It doesn't follow that they had Adam straightaway.

 

In fact they've been married for five years, which suggests that they tied the knot quickly after Kit discovered that she'd got a sprog on the way.

 

If John got Zed up the duff straightaway then Saul would be just approaching 17, so it's possible that his mum - still having a bit of the old anarchist in her - encouraged him to learn to drive from an early age. Or maybe it's set about 1 year in the future....

 

Anyone notice the messed up lettering? "Thunder rumbles on the horizon, endlessly threatening, but the storm never..." Unless that's just clever self-aware writing.

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I stand by my "it all happened in Hell' theory, so while John was only away from his 'real' life on Earth for 24 hours (thus keeping to the 'one day' agreement, albeit somewhat sneakily - but what did we expect?), he actually 'lived' each of the lifetimes we see in the 3 stories. That's why, at the end, he can remember all three of them (hence the confusion, because they're fairly mutually exclusive sets of memories), with his 'actual' memories buried somewhere behind them all. From what Rosa says at the end of the issue, he should have got it all figured out by next issue, though. :)

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I have to agree with Mark here...

The 'children' know Contantine, since he has been a 'father' to them.

It was so, like Rosa says, they know what he is like and how he thinks.

 

By the way, what else has Manco done, although I've heard of him, I've never picked up any of previous work...

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He was "reinfected" when he had sex with Ellie.

 

I think the nature of his infection from Ellie was different than Negral's. With Negral it was a blood transfusion where he had actual demon blood in him. With Ellie I gathered it was more of a demon AIDS sort of thing which I think would be less potent. Which isn't to say it wouldn't also infect Angie when he injected his blood into her at the hospital. But wouldn't he also had infected Angie when they had sex in Australia? Plus wouldn't he also had infected Dani and SW Manor and that whore in LA as well as anyone else he's had sex with since Jenkins run? Do condoms protect against demon std's? Just wondering....

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I think the nature of his infection from Ellie was different than Negral's.  With Negral it was a blood transfusion where he had actual demon blood in him.  With Ellie I gathered it was more of a demon AIDS sort of thing which I think would be less potent.  Which isn't to say it wouldn't also infect Angie when he injected his blood into her at the hospital.  But wouldn't he also had infected Angie when they had sex in Australia?  Plus wouldn't he also had infected Dani and SW Manor and that whore in LA as well as anyone else he's had sex with since Jenkins run?  Do condoms protect against demon std's?  Just wondering....

 

A Wizard Did It. D'you hear? A wizard...

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Yeah well it happens sometimes.

 

Good point though. If John gets reinfected that way could he have passed it on in subsequent sexual encounters. Paraphrasing what Ade said in another thread it can be a bit of a bugger maintainign continuity in a 200 issue behemoth.

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I have to agree with Mark here...

The 'children' know Contantine, since he has been a 'father' to them.

It was so, like Rosa says, they know what he is like and how he thinks.

 

But I think this is a flaw in Rosa's plan, because she had use crippled Johns for each of her marriages. The first one especially was just a shadow of the real JC. Could the kids really get to know how he thinks from these mind-control jobs?

 

And I don't see what's hard to understand about Rosa's three family scenarios: The three did not exist for equal periods of hell-time. The marriage to Kit was only for 5 years, the one to Angie for 14 years, and the one to Zed for as long as it would take for Saul to grow into the level of British education where he could seek a distinction in an end-of-year project (is that secondary school or college level work?), and drive a car. He looked like a young adult to me, and clearly was older than 14 year old Maria, hence the terrible evil of them having their arms around each other (child molesting and incest in one union).

 

More so then that Star Trek episode, #200 reminded me of the episode of The Prisoner miniseries where #6 is brainwashed into believing he is another secret agent who is trying to imitate himself. He finally breaks through the brainwashing at the end. It also reminds me of The Prisoner in that he is easily worked over by the Village goons near the beginning of each episode but is always stronger later and beats their asses toward the end.

 

I don't think Rosa is the brightest bulb on the tree, and is used to relying on her powers to get over on humanity. When Constantine says, "This won't be over until you kill me. You must know that," Rosa clearly doesn't understand that John just told her it's either her or him. Just before he says this, he accuses her of stealing half his life. It's personal now, and I don't think she gets that either. She's ripped off John's "bodily fluids" and life to satisfy some abstract idea of familial revenge, and got some kinky thrills in the process, and since he's just another mortal, la de da.

 

She doesn't know it yet, but she will be receiving serious payback at John's hands. She seems not to take him seriously, but she'll learn. That's my prediction, anyway.

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None of the demons John has encountered have seemed terribly bright, not even The First of the Fallen half the time.

 

For a bunch of scheming bastards who've spent millenia trying to outdo one another to climb the ranks of hell they seem pretty ineffectual when pitted against the guile of Constantine.

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Demons are stupid like Bob Hoskins in Roger Rabbit.

 

"What, you mean I could have left Hell for Heaven ANY time ? Why didn't you tell me?"

"Because that wouldn't have been FUNNY"

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None of the demons John has encountered have seemed terribly bright, not even The First of the Fallen half the time.

 

An obvious pitfall when you consider the nature of the best Hellblazer stories, most (if not all) of which hinge on a sting that brings ruin to all but the grinning Scouser.

 

I bought into John's recent confrontation with the First - everything about their history would've had the big guy at his wariest, like the rat you teach not to eat cheese through the judicious use of electro-shock treatment. Likewise, Constantine's use of London's geography worked as a believable way for him to dispense of the Lukhavim.

 

In fact, now that I think about it, I don't think Carey's fallen into that trap himself yet.

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