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Hellblazer #259

  

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  1. 1. Your marks out of 10 for Hellblazer #259, please...

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HELLBLAZER #259

Written by Peter Milligan

Art and cover by Simon Bisley

 

hb259.jpg

 

Too wild to be contained on the cover, fan-favorite artist Simon Bisley has worked his way to the insides of two issues of HELLBLAZER! First up, John Constantine is on the run, lying low and short on friends. Luckily the wife of his oldest mate Chas inherited a quiet summer cottage where Constantine can hide out until things blow over. At least he thought it was luck…

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I'm speechless after finishing the issue, but feel compelled to share nonetheless.

The art is glorious, Bisley rediscovered himself as an artist he used to be or he is possessed by Michaelangelo, either way he delivers the most gorgeous looking book i have seen from him in at least 15 years. I am an artist myself and reading this issue, even though we get glimpses of hell, i felt i was touched by something divine.

I enjoyed the story as well, great characterization of Constantine as always and this time it felt like we got a little closer to him, experiencing his distorted memories. The creature on the cover makes sense too, hellish Phoebe mutated with tools of he profession. I'm giving it a 10 because this book just felt very special and i love Bisley's art when he's at his top form, he really adapted his style to the tone of the story and Constantine doesn't look too much like Conan this time.

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Good. Nothing to get excited about, but far better than what Milligan's been turning out. I realize this story wouldn't work without the preceding chapters, but once again, a "stand-alone" story works. OK, it's loaded with continuity and a layman reader wouldn't make any sense of it all. The reason it works is that it's just a simple story, about character rather than goddesses killing girlfriends.

I found the characterization of John perfect.

Phoebe....she was supposed to be drunk in the flashback, right? Otherwise, there's some shoddy characterization on her part.

I'm giving Milligan the benefit of the doubt here, that there's more to Phoebe than what we've seen. I think Milligan is building to something with her, that she's not what she seemed.

Chas is also being written funny. I hope we're not going to another "Chas breaks up with Johnny" story.

I hope Milligan has a direction in mind and isn't just going to regurgitate all the old cliched Hellblazer stories we've seen done time and time again since Jenkins.

Anyway, I enjoyed this well enough. I'll give it a 7.

 

I agree with Martimus on the art. If I graded on art, the rating woould be higher, but I don't figure in artwork, unless it absolutely ruins the story.

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Phoebe....she was supposed to be drunk in the flashback, right? Otherwise, there's some shoddy characterization on her part.

 

 

Was that a flashback at all or more like a hallucination? - i thought they didn't have sex until two issues ago, but it's not clear i guess. Also her turning into that green monster can't be a flashback, so how much of it really is a memory? If the toilet scene really happened than John shouldn't have been all that surprised she slept with him without drinking the potion.

 

Also liked Chas, the interlude with him and Rene eating breakfast while Constantine demolishes their cottage was pretty funny.

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I took it as a flashback that morphed into something more 'real'. The bar scene was what i believe to be the beginning of John and Phoebe's relationship. As far as the art is concerned, i thought the first half was gorgeous but once the demon appears there is something off about it. Maybe it's just that i didn't care for the design on the nasty green mecha demon.

 

As far as the story goes, it was quite good IMO.

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It was OK, butI didn't care for the muscular JC. The last image of him walking away from Renee's burning chalet makes him look like Apollo (Authority) with short hair. Liked the story a little more than the art though. As far as a crossover to another story arc goes, it accomplished its task.

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I'm not a fan of the art. A lot of it is better than the pages that were offered as preview, but it still seemed fussy and ugly. And in many places, it sure looks like crap draughtsmanship.

 

Story-wise, solid enough - I don't think it's Milligan's strongest work, but good stuff.

 

One aspect I'm surprised no one's commented on - Milligan's hinted that he'll be featuring a character he wrote some while ago. We saw one or two people here from a certain long-running title, and I guess a return of the eponymous character might not be too far away.

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I assume you're talking about Shade. I never read that mag, so who was it we saw?

Indeed. Kathy George was a main character throughout Milligan's 70-issue run, and Troy [Grenzer] was the man who kicked off the story by killing her parents. See the 'American Scream' collection for more - Vertigo are handily re-releasing it in November, along with a following collection that includes more fun with Grenzer (who, without spoiling things too much, is killed in the very first issue).

 

Interesting that Constantine recognises Kathy in this issue - I guess Milligan remembered that he did feature JC in Shade. I really should go and re-read the whole thing.

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Ha! This was fun.

 

That art is better than the previews - not to everyone's tastes but does what Camuncoli has persistently failed to do.

 

Was it Mark who mentioned flashbacks in recent discussions about the whole Phoebe Thing?

There you go then.

Not going to rescue recent issues but certainly adding charm to the whole arc.

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... As far as the art is concerned, i thought the first half was gorgeous but once the demon appears there is something off about it. ...

Agreed. Up until the halfway mark it was stunning, some of the most engaging art I've seen in Hellblazer. It's hardly surprising Biz couldn't keep that up for an entire issue; several panels were so detailed and well-composed as to be works of art in their own right.

 

Some of the dialogue was a bit unconvincing, but the story cracked along, and we're finally getting into the stuff that's been left unsaid for the last few issues.

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Loved the art, though I still greatly prefer Bisley's work in ink, rather than the pencils + computer colouring bit that is on display here. I got the feeling Phoebe was definitely under some sort of spell in those flashbacks.

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Really good issue.

 

The art was gorgeous, not what I was expecting from Bisley at all. Don't get me wrong, I like his usual style but this was something a little different and made for a pleasant surprise. I take the point about his Constantine maybe being a little too built but he also has a tired, worn down, beat to shit air to him that seems so very John.

 

Story was the business, had a little bit of everything including a nice Chas scene. Liked the turn around in the first few pages as I was getting a little worried with the tone, so nice one there Mister Writer Man. Shame about the last line, didn't really work but everything else...yeah, kind of won me around a little more on the Phoebe thing but Dani accosted John in the Jacks years ago (albeit not for a shag, if memory serves)!

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any of Constantine's previous exes would have fit this story better (Kit's got a precedent here, but is holy unto the Ennisites - and also why ruin a decent, finished story?) Angie would have fit both the characterisation of Phoebe AND Constantine having developed a current fixation. And I could have explained it all away as a hangover from the empathy virus thing.

 

 

Using Angie would probably have improved things somewhat for me, for similar reasons. Failing that, it might even have been interesting had Milligan's run begun with John and Phoebe's relationship even further in media res, and got to her death even sooner - like, within the first two or three issues, max. That way, the fact that we as readers hadn't been given a chance to observe the relationship (and the fact that the relationship itself was of little narrative significance beyond setting up her death) could have become a strength, rather than a weakness - as it stands, we've been shown just enough of their relationship to be unconvinced by it.

 

Oh it was me, inspired by Mark's comments. Well done me.

If that flashback motif is to continue, then the "mystery" is a justifiable attempt at misdirecting the regular reader.

Not perfect for a long-term, monthly comic, but entertaining enough.

 

In other Phoebe news, just why IS she in Hell? Is it a trap?

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Best issue in a good while, this one, although I'd have liked it a lot more if the story had reached this point about half a dozen issues earlier. As it stands, it's got me feeling a lot more optimistic about upcoming issues, although it's a far more cautious optimism than would have been the case sans some of the padding and poor story-telling decisions displayed in the previous few issues.

 

My biggest criticism - and again, it's more a criticism of the story up to this point than of this issue in itself - is that we really don't know Phoebe well enough to be able to tell whether her actions here are out-of-character or not. She's been more plot device than character until now, and while this belated attempt to graft a personality onto her is welcome (although I'd note that she's still being defined solely by her sexual bond with the protagonist, which is essentially Lazy Misogynistic Cliche Trope #3-a, and a little disappointing from a writer of Milligan's calibre), it also serves to highlight how poorly fleshed-out she's been thus far.

 

Excellent art, with the minor caveats that Dave, Jason and Sethos have already mentioned. If nothing else, this was probably the best-looking issue of Hellblazer since...ooh, at least since Frazer Irving's guest issue back at the end of Carey's run, possibly even longer. And I say that as someone who's been enjoying Camuncoli's work a lot. I'm not sure I'd want the book to look like this every month, but it's excellent work nonetheless, and I'm glad that we've got at least one more Bisley issue to look forward to.

 

7/10 - as a standalone it would probably deserve higher, but there's still a little too much resting on where the story goes from here, and after recent disappointments, I'm wary about that.

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any of Constantine's previous exes would have fit this story better (Kit's got a precedent here, but is holy unto the Ennisites - and also why ruin a decent, finished story?) Angie would have fit both the characterisation of Phoebe AND Constantine having developed a current fixation. And I could have explained it all away as a hangover from the empathy virus thing.

 

 

Using Angie would probably have improved things somewhat for me, for similar reasons. Failing that, it might even have been interesting had Milligan's run begun with John and Phoebe's relationship even further in media res, and got to her death even sooner - like, within the first two or three issues, max. That way, the fact that we as readers hadn't been given a chance to observe the relationship (and the fact that the relationship itself was of little narrative significance beyond setting up her death) could have become a strength, rather than a weakness - as it stands, we've been shown just enough of their relationship to be unconvinced by it.

 

Oh it was me, inspired by Mark's comments. Well done me.

If that flashback motif is to continue, then the "mystery" is a justifiable attempt at misdirecting the regular reader.

Not perfect for a long-term, monthly comic, but entertaining enough.

 

In other Phoebe news, just why IS she in Hell? Is it a trap?

 

Maybe it's because her ex-boyfriend killed himself and went to Hell, and Phoebe chose to stay in Hell with him...

Oh wait.

 

OR...

Maybe Milligan is secretly more of a misogynist than Chuck Austen?

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I enjoyed that. Apart from drawing Constantine too big, Bisley's art was pretty wonderful, and worked brilliantly for the scenes in Hell.

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I think I agree with every point Mark makes about this issue. Also gave the same grade.

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