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Hellblazer #250

  

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Hellblazer #250

 

Written by Brian Azzarello, Jamie Delano, Dave Gibbons, China Miéville and Peter Milligan

Art by Eddie Campbell, Rafael Grampá, David Lloyd, Giuseppe Camuncoli and others

Cover by Lee Bermejo

 

hb250.jpg

 

Happy Christmas and happy 250th issue! An all-star creative cast leaves five new holiday tales under the tree in this oversized holiday special. See what the season has in store for the always-naughty, never-nice John Constantine. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Right?

 

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1.)Dave Gibbons writes John Constantine, action hero. Eh, that's two for two that I don't care for Gibbons' take on Constantine, still the internal monologue was pretty well spot on. John trying to play the tough, callous bastard while he's "doing the right thing". (4/10)

2.)Jamie Delano's plot was from an episode of the Twilight Zone, I do believe. The writing reminded me of a Will Eisner story actually, but I can't say I was actually too pleased by the "mandatory happy ending" about the "spirit of Christmas". That's trite. (5/10)

3.)Brian Azzarello's "story" (really a poem) gets points for being something different. I expected Azzarello to pull out the humour card, and if it's humour, I'm just glad it's better than Ennis' idea of "humour" in "Son of Man". (6/10)

4.)Peter Milligan's story contradicts continuity. The previous stories made Christmas a joyous affair, even for Constantine, yet in this one, Christmas is seen as a curse by John. Explain that one away, ye editor. It was a very short story. I liked it better than the previous three at this point. I liked this plot better when Paul Jenkins used it for his Christmas story. Now there was a Hellblazer Christmas story of pure gold. Ennis' "All Those Little Boys and Girls" also. (7/10)

5.)China Mieville becomes the new Jamie Delano. John Constantine versus an evil multi-national corporation. Ah, that takes me back. I did like this story, although I didn't love it. Playing word games with the concept of "making snow angels". Others will perhaps not give it my biased leniency. There's one truly funny scene. (7/10)

How to grade this issue, as it's 5 separate stories? None of them really stood out. None of them were can't miss John Constantine stories. They really reminded me of the type of story when Carey wrote the Hellblazer story for the 9/11/01 special. I'm not even sure what my favourite of the lot was....but I really didn't like the first two very much (sorry Jamie!). It was "OK", and "OK" gets a 6, I guess. Maybe I just put too much expectation into this when hearing about Delano, Mieville, and Milligan writing stories for the book, but I really don't think so....especially when Delano's story was horribly cliched and Milligan's wasn't exactly original ground for Hellblazer. It was a let down.

I want to add something constructive like "the format of 5 short stories might have taken away", but seeing that I give sterling praise to two stories using this same type of format, I can't.

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Nice little Christmas present that, wouldn't mind seeing a couple of these a year if they can find the creative types to justify it.

 

"Happy New Fucking Year". Internal monologue. Sean Phillips on art. Right out the gate with that lot and you're going to have to work hard not to hit my sweet spot. Yeah, Constantine was a bit too much the action hero but the humour (in particular those awesomely terrible puns) countered those scenes quite nicely.

 

"Christmas Cards". Closing caption alone was worth the price of entry, throw in a dark little story with something of a happy ending and that'll do for me.

If you were particularly cynical, you might think Constantine used a little mojo to push Barry the right way, in order to get himself unbarred.

 

"All I Goat For Christmas". Something a little different, not sure why but I got a smirk out of 'John "Hellblazer" Constantine'. Wasn't too clear about what happened at the end there,

did the other patrons attack and eat the demon ?

 

"The Curse Of Christmas". John has a bit of a grumble, with a nice little bit of magic thrown in for good measure. Perfectly enjoyable.

 

"Snow Had Fallen". Ahem. Yes. Well. Runt Of The Litter, but still alright. Probably would've made a better Angel story.

 

 

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I really enjoyed that. Helped make up for Diggle's rushed, midly disappointing final story at any rate.

 

Happy New Fucking Year - Your typical Hellblazer fare, but no less fun for that. There's something appealing about John being the action man occasionally (just as long as it's occasionally). Some nice humour in there. Phillips' art is great as always.

 

Christmas Cards - David Lloyd's art makes this. Apart from that it's a good, heart-warming story, although Delano waffles on a bit like he tends to do.

 

All I Goat For Christmas - Er... right. I liked the faintly grotesque art, but it did little else for me otherwise. I'm sure I wasn't the only one expecting a Good Intentions replay with that goat.

 

The Curse of Christmas - Excellent. The way the death curse was used was fucking genius. I hope to see more of this kind of thing when Milligan's run kicks off, which I'm now looking forward to even more.

 

Snow Had Fallen - Mieville's one of my favourite writers, and his stab at my favourite comic didn't disappoint. Lots of great ideas and a nice twist in the tale.

 

Overall, an 8/10. Merry Christmas!

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I'm not entirely sure why, but I'm probably looking forward to reading Azzarello's story more than any of the others.

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I really enojoyed Sean Phillips' art. I really enjoyed David Lloyd's art.

 

That is all.

 

This was a piss poor way for them to celebrate the 250 issue.

 

In the spirit of the season I will be generous and give it a 3 out of 10.

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Pretty good stuff.

 

Loved Christmas Cards.

 

Not sure what Azz's story had to do with Christmas or New Year's. Baseball's a summer sport that ends in October. I still thought it was pretty neat. Wonder if that means the Cubs will win the World Series next year?

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yeah, that cubs thing was way out of place. it kind of sucked, too. the whole thing read like a winter's edge starring constantine in each one.

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This was a piss poor way for them to celebrate the 250 issue.

 

In the spirit of the season I will be generous and give it a 3 out of 10.

 

Harsh!

 

Also more than a little unfair, I think - the art alone was worth far more than that, to me at least, a terrific selection of artists with no obvious weak link at all. Even if all the writing sucked - which it didn't - this was the best-looking issue of Hellblazer in years. There was even some attempt at a varied colour pallette.

 

I've only given it a very quick skim-read, really so I can't really speak to the quality of the stories yet (although most of them seemed decent enough, at the very least - a mixed bag, with varying degrees and types of weakness in each of them, but a satisfying variety of styles, some aspect of John's character was nailed well by each writer, and each story had at least one splendid moment), but my initial impressions are largely positive. Maybe a few nitpicks about flaws in the execution, but for the principle alone - simply bring in a bunch of excellent writers and artists to produce continuity-free stories with a range of differing perspectives on the character and title - I think this was a splendid way to celebrate #250, and more than makes up for my disappointment in the extremely-weak 20th anniversary issue.

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Just a question: How many of you UK types grasped the concept of Azz's story? Only reason I ask that is I don't think baseball's very well known over the pond there and the Goat Curse probably even less so. Not trying to be "oh look at me i'm American!" just curious as the story seems a bit out of place for a couple of reasons.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_the_Billy_Goat

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The Irish chap picked up the gist of it anyway.

 

There was a vaguley similar story in the UK there not too long ago, a Birmingham supporter who worked as a builder enshrining his team's shirt in the foundations of his local enemy's ground...or something like that.

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The Irish chap picked up the gist of it anyway.

 

There was a vaguley similar story in the UK there not too long ago, a Birmingham supporter who worked as a builder enshrining his team's shirt in the foundations of his local enemy's ground...or something like that.

 

edit - upon second reading it's pretty well summed up on the third page.

 

Funny that...there was a similar situation here. Red Sox fan and mason burried Red Sox shirt into tons of concrete poured into the rival Yankees new stadium. What's wierder is they went and broke all the concrete up and dug it out!

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Also more than a little unfair, I think - the art alone was worth far more than that, to me at least, a terrific selection of artists with no obvious weak link at all. Even if all the writing sucked - which it didn't - this was the best-looking issue of Hellblazer in years. There was even some attempt at a varied colour pallette.

 

Art collection was nice, and Camuncoli with inker is quite a revelation and I hope any incoming work he does is similarly improved.

The colouring range is striking and a damn relief from the usual.

 

For the stories I'd say my score is based on the whole being better than the sum of the parts.

The Gibbons one was similar to the sort of joke story that Denise Mina wrote, but restricted to the correct page count.

 

Quite liked the Azzarello & Milligan/Campbell stories. (Although Campbell should have been allowed B&W)

Milligan's bodes well for the future, not sure how the Constantine family could be said to have had joyous Xmases, Christian?

 

The Mieville one resonated with Delano for me too, but in a good way. (I am saving one comment for later.)

David Lloyd's art is just splendid and Delano's story delightful.

 

Tie for first place with these last two.

 

 

 

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The Irish chap picked up the gist of it anyway.

 

There was a vaguley similar story in the UK there not too long ago, a Birmingham supporter who worked as a builder enshrining his team's shirt in the foundations of his local enemy's ground...or something like that.

 

He laid some paving stones spelling out "BCFC" on the approach to Molineux.

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i meant to comment about the art, too. it was very nice. i enjoyed the variations. and the only stories i didn't like were the 'super john' story and the azz poem. but the art was good in his story.

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It certainly is!

 

I reread the Delano story, because it kept nagging at me that I was too harsh on the story.

As someone mentioned in this thread, "John's not spooky anymore because he was wrong". I completely missed that.

I only gave the issue a cursory read up until the Milligan story.

I didn't like the Gibbons story, and the Delano story disappointed me because I was so looking forward to seeing Delano on Hellblazer again. Reading the Delano story over again, it was much better than I first felt.

The Azzarello "story" dropped upon second reading. The first time, it was different and I enjoyed that, but reading it over, it's not anything I vaguely care about. That's my personal taste.

So, there are three stories that I found enjoyable. I do still think it was just "OK", but you can't really ask for more than above 50% in this sort of package. Plus, the other two stories had their pluses and weren't unreadable.

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I'd echo Mark and John's opinions on this one. A solid 8.

 

It did leave me yearning for some more substantial stories from some of the writers but I suppose that is a necessary byproduct of this kind of anthology format.

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Didn't find evidence of this being posted already:

 

http://www.newsarama.com/comics/120816-Hellblazer250.html

In which Giuseppe Camuncoli has more of an understanding of Constantine than Dave Gibbons (except in the below quotes).

 

NRAMA: If you had to, how would you spend a Christmas with John Constantine?

 

DL: With liters of Gordons and Glenmorangie. And a fan so that I could direct any drifting cigarette smoke into the dark corner where it belongs.

 

DG: Getting pissed and talking bollocks.

 

PM: I probably wouldn’t choose to, but if I were forced it’d be in a pub. One of those small, crowded, unthemed pubs. I’ll ply John with drinks and then slip away before he could screw up my entire life.

 

GC: That's easy! In a pub, one of those in which smoking is still allowed, drinking Guinness and smoking! Cheers, mates!

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yeah, that cubs thing was way out of place. it kind of sucked, too.

Ahem. Unless you are a Cubs fan you will never understand the annual ritual of elevated expectations, followed by dashed hopes and the refrain, "well, there is always NEXT year." That was a mighty fine Christmas present Azz wrapped up for me at least. Go Cubbies!

 

Not a bad issue, but my thinking closely follows Christians. And after the rather psychological magic of Diggle's run, seeing a giant demon seems out of place (as it did in The Knowledge, but even more so there).

 

I think this issue gets a 6 from me. Will need to think on it some more.

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