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Hellblazer #270

  

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  1. 1. Your marks out of 10 for Hellblazer #270, please...

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HELLBLAZER #270

Written by PETER MILLIGAN

Art by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI & STEFANO LANDINI

Cover by SIMON BISLEY

 

Assisted by Shade, the Changing Man, John Constantine tries getting his sanity back to find out why he grew a white beard, lost a thumb and went out of his bloody mind. What about Epiphany – is she as dead as she appears to be? Looks like it’ll take a trip back to Shade’s home planet, Meta, to settle an old score between Shade and Constantine!

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Wow! I hated that!

Who would've guessed when this story-arc started so promisingly, that by the end of it, we'd be rehashing a Stephen King novel?

I found the writing awful. Very hackneyed.

Do you think we'll get to see John go to Meta and rescue the girl at some point?

I give this a 3. It's really bad. I'm not even sure I liked it that much, honestly.

These last two issues rank right alongside the worst Hellblazer stories, for mine.

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I thought it was a step up from the last one, although the ending wrapped a little bit too neatly, for a 4 part story. I like John still not being able to admit that he likes Epiphany, and comes across as an asshole after all, making her feel worthless to him at his best. Not a mind-blowing ending to a promising story, but i just had fun reading it and didn't feel like it took half a minute to read (and that's a big plus these days, sadly :)..). Shade was completly pointless though, i think the story would have been better without him.

 

Wow, a 3 Christian? Did you really like the beginning and hated the ending, or just thought this issue was a complete shit?

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I just hated this issue and the last one.

I thought the first two chapters of this story-arc were incredibly strong Hellblazer stories, but once Shade took over, I thought it went "straight to Hell".

The first two chapters, with the mystery of "the madness", were so promising, but I was waiting to see where it was all going and how Milligan would wrap it up, and I felt all of the promise of the first two chapters were completely wasted as it went nowhere interesting.

Plus, Milligan's writing on this story-arc really annoyed me. His style works fine on X-Statix, which is meant to be tongue in cheek, but none of the characters were taking any of the plots seriously in this story-arc. That's a real fault of Milligan's writing of late. His series always end up devolving into caricatures after a few months, because it seems Milligan has absolutely no ability to stay interested in any characters he is writing for prolonged periods of time. Which is fine with X-Statix, once again, because the characters aren't meant to be taken seriously.

But, when a book is certainly meant to be taking place in a world very similar to our own (as Hellblazer is), yet none of the characters behave in any sort of realistic way, I wonder why I'm meant to care about any of it.

 

The ending did certainly feel rushed also. There's no doubt about that. The pacing was very much off by the point he started to torture the guy.

 

Let me say that John acting like an asshole isn't bad. This is just how John seems to deal with the world he lives in now. That's fine. He refuses to take anything seriously or to care anymore.

But, when everyone else around him just accepts that and acts in the exact same manner, it becomes farce, and I don't see the Hellblazer story-arc that Milligan seems to be trying to write currently is farce.

I'm begging someone to act human to John.

 

Plus, I just found loads of examples of really poorly scripted dialogue in this issue. Some of the dialogue was structred in a manner I'd expect from a college creative writing course, not from a professional who was once amongst the very top comic writers in the world.

I get the feeling that Milligan is on auto-pilot right now and that upsets me as a reader.

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I liked it, though I'd agree that the third part was a bit of a drop (though I didn't notice so much on re-reading), and Milligan's dialogue these days can seem stilted. Still, I'm enjoying his run more than I've enjoyed the book in a long time.

 

And I'm feeling more for the characters than I have since Ennis, probably. After some of the big bads in recent years, it's refreshing that this all comes down to a jealous bloke and a simple whispered curse.

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The smaller antagonists is certainly better than the "world shaking menaces" of Carey, without a doubt.

But, this story-arc was just so obvious. I said at chapter one, this better not end up as some mind-control plot by the villain, and it was. Plus, the fact that this particular "curse" was lifted from that Stephen King novel certainly didn't help my mood.

 

I wonder why I'm reading HB anymore actually. I haven't had much positive to say about this book since before Azzarello. My earlier reviews on this site, I tried to find positives in the stories, instead of being so negative...at a time when certain readers on this site said that certain members of the site were being too negative all the time.

Maybe it's because Milligan was my favourite writer a few years ago and I'm so disappointed that I'm disliking his work, or maybe just the years worth of issues that I haven't been enjoying this book are taking a toll finally, but it's getting harder to be positive about this book.

Every once in a great while, I do really enjoy an issue, but I can probably count the number of issues that I felt positive about the direction of this series on my hands since Azzarello.

It's beating a dead horse, but this book really should be an anthology title, as every writer seems to have one spectacular John Constantine story in them, but the character just doesn't seem to be able to hold an ongoing title, or maybe just the book's direction moving away from horror stories after Ennis has hampered the concept.

At least some people are enjoying the book. This is all just my opinions, of course. My patience with HB just seems to be quickly dropping.

I wonder exactly what's going on, since a lot of readers here are staying positive, but while I do love the John Constantine character, Hellblazer has quickly dropped near the bottom of my comic reading list.

I have noticed that there's been very little interest, overall, in the threads for #269 and 270 though.

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Didn't care for the previous issue, but I kinda liked the finishing touches on #270.

 

I feel like there are some holes in the plot--and ultimately Shade was only there to make off with Epiphany, sort of his revenge against John kissing his bird back in the day. But, it was a page turner for me, and I love when I can't wait to get to the next page.

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I just hated this issue and the last one.

I thought the first two chapters of this story-arc were incredibly strong Hellblazer stories, but once Shade took over, I thought it went "straight to Hell".

The first two chapters, with the mystery of "the madness", were so promising, but I was waiting to see where it was all going and how Milligan would wrap it up, and I felt all of the promise of the first two chapters were completely wasted as it went nowhere interesting.

Plus, Milligan's writing on this story-arc really annoyed me. His style works fine on X-Statix, which is meant to be tongue in cheek, but none of the characters were taking any of the plots seriously in this story-arc. That's a real fault of Milligan's writing of late. His series always end up devolving into caricatures after a few months, because it seems Milligan has absolutely no ability to stay interested in any characters he is writing for prolonged periods of time. Which is fine with X-Statix, once again, because the characters aren't meant to be taken seriously.

But, when a book is certainly meant to be taking place in a world very similar to our own (as Hellblazer is), yet none of the characters behave in any sort of realistic way, I wonder why I'm meant to care about any of it.

 

The ending did certainly feel rushed also. There's no doubt about that. The pacing was very much off by the point he started to torture the guy.

 

Let me say that John acting like an asshole isn't bad. This is just how John seems to deal with the world he lives in now. That's fine. He refuses to take anything seriously or to care anymore.

But, when everyone else around him just accepts that and acts in the exact same manner, it becomes farce, and I don't see the Hellblazer story-arc that Milligan seems to be trying to write currently is farce.

I'm begging someone to act human to John.

 

Plus, I just found loads of examples of really poorly scripted dialogue in this issue. Some of the dialogue was structred in a manner I'd expect from a college creative writing course, not from a professional who was once amongst the very top comic writers in the world.

I get the feeling that Milligan is on auto-pilot right now and that upsets me as a reader.

 

I see.. i really liked the first part as well, one of those that show how much potential the character has (and makes you say "wow, holy shit" etc.). The ending was rather disappointing, but i am willing to overlook an unsatisfying story because i still enjoy reading Constantine.. i guess my expectations are switched for some kind of unconditional love for the character. It was a bit stupid in all honesty that Constantine fell a prey to some amateur like that. One would think that after decades of battling demons he would have some protection from that stuff.. but no, any guy who graduated from Harry Potter's school can just tear his life to pieces.. I had a pleasure of meeting Milligan, and he is one of the nicest people i've ever met.. very open, very passionate, so i just can't bitch about his writing, i just pretend i didn't read some of his works :)

 

It seems to me that it's not only Pete who makes John into a caricature.. Andy Diggle, after an explosive first arc and A LOT of promise ended up going nowhere.. His later stories felt like parodies to me, with John being a passenger in his own book. Sniffing a Santa Claus? Really?? Both Milligan and Diggle are great writers, no doubt, yet they can't figure out how to make the book work on the monthly basis. The anthology thing is probably the best thing that can happen to Constantine at this point. Pandemonium, All His Engines and Dark Entries pretty much prove that.

 

Milligan tries to take Constantine somewhere new and fresh, with the wedding and all that, because everything else seems to have been done before.. does it work thou? Not sure.. i feel like i might be sleeping at John's wedding, unless Nergal crashes with flowers.

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Shade ... i think the story would have been better without him.

 

The first two chapters, with the mystery of "the madness", were so promising, but I was waiting to see where it was all going and how Milligan would wrap it up, and I felt all of the promise of the first two chapters were completely wasted as it went nowhere interesting.

 

The ending did certainly feel rushed also. There's no doubt about that. The pacing was very much off by the point he started to torture the guy.

 

Plus, I just found loads of examples of really poorly scripted dialogue in this issue.

 

After some of the big bads in recent years, it's refreshing that this all comes down to a jealous bloke and a simple whispered curse.

 

Andy Diggle, after an explosive first arc and A LOT of promise ended up going nowhere ... they can't figure out how to make the book work on the monthly basis. The anthology thing is probably the best thing that can happen to Constantine at this point. Pandemonium, All His Engines and Dark Entries pretty much prove that.

 

 

5/10

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What Mark quoted.

 

I feel a bit let down, since I thought the start of this story was well-written and exciting (and I like the art). This ending felt like a rushed wrapping up, with too little payoff.

 

5.

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I'm begining to think we need a second run of Delano. Or at least a 12-parter to tie us down til a new writer comes in. Ever since his short story in #250 I've feared Milligan's run would turn out lack.luster

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John was really just a charicature to you guys in this arc? Sure, the insane parts were cliche, but when he came out of it, I felt like he a regained a definite sense of purpose. The more I consider Shade's role in the story, the less significance to the story he has. In fact, I would say that if a flea or tick had hold of John's leg, it's role in the story equaled Shade's until the final issue. He was only there to be part of the end, and I hate characters like that. They are akin to the death bed confessional after a life of sin. Say you're sorry and you get to go to heaven anyway. Bah. I liked Epiphany's role in the tale, and I thought John came out of his madness well enough, but Shade does something at the end, when it's just a postscript. I would like to lower the final score one letter grade, but I must live with my errors, too.

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It's not even so much John, Slinker. It's more the fact that John acts in a certain way and everyone else in the story just acts off of John. They don't behave like independent, living beings.

I'd agree that Diggle's use of John after the first story-arc would fall into the catergory of mostly "caricature".

But, I still thought that the characters acted basically like real people would.

I honestly don't have much of a memory for Hellblazer anymore, I wish I could make a more definitive statement on Diggle's run, but it's sort of faded from my memory.*

But, the characters are all in a very "Milligan fashion" in this story-arc, where you can see Milligan behind the scenes. He has a very distinct voice, which is usually good, but the distinction is to not take the stories seriously. Works great in a book like X-Statix, as I said.

 

*It's amazing that I can remember the entire Delano run and the first half of Ennis' run excellently to this day, but I can barely remember what most issues after Azzarello were actually about (some of the Carey stuff I can). Although, at the same time, I did read the Delano issues a fair number of times back then, while after losing interest in the book during the Azzarello run, I've only read every issue starting with Azzarello one time and then filed the comic away.

Azzarello may have been awful, but he was memorable, I'll give it that.

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I would also go along with the stuff Mark quoted about this story.

 

I found this issue to be a very messy conclusion after really liking the other episodes.

Seems that one of the things that could have been most down to Constantine's "madness" was not, and I compare he emotional turmoul about 'Phany to the Mina empathy overspill.

 

It was more like an episode of Shade than it was Hellblazer and I wouldn't have minded some of it in a Shade book.

But Christian's point about the way everyone else behaves is the most telling point.

 

For the future I see crossovers with the DCU and variant covers of the Wedding Issue - probably based on the Spider Man / Mary Jane one.

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What Red quoted.

 

If I did numbers, I'd still give this issue more than a 5, because I enjoyed it despite its flaws.

 

Given this issue's ending, it looks like [ Spoiler : Epiphany's alchemy wasn't behind John's falling in love with Phoebe after all ]. Not sure how I feel about that.

 

 

... Sniffing a Santa Claus? Really?? ...

Although I didn't care much for Andy's run on Hellblazer at the time, I thought sniffing Santa's bones was one of many great ideas he had. I liked that a lot.

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I thought sniffing Santa's bones was one of many great ideas he had. I liked that a lot.

Agreed. That was great fun.

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Maybe it's because I've caned Milligan's run over a weekend, or maybe it's just that Camuncoli's lovely, kinetic art and the bright, primary colours are leagues away from the muddy, grot-filled artistic ditch that Hellblazer had been lying face-down in for the best part of five years, but I've really enjoyed this.

 

Milligan's stories do seem to set up an intriguing premise then spoil it with a (relatively) mundane explanation and hasty wrap-up* but the abrupt ending didn't bother me here quite as much as it did everyone else - probably because I read the whole thing in one go. It seems clear to me, given that Kathy is still stuck in Hell with Troy, that Shade (and presumably Epiphany) will be returning in future Hellblazer arcs, so really this is more of a way to set up a future status quo than a story in of itself. Presumably the bloke who ate John's thumb will return for future stories too.

 

Which is, yes, exactly what I used to complain about Andy Diggle doing during his numerous, strung-together arcs. But they turned out all right in the end (benefits of fucking off for two years and re-reading the whole lot in one go) and I have confidence that Milligan's will too. Which admittedly lends some weight to Ade's long-held assertion that Hellblazer should be relaunched as a series of standalone graphic novels.

 

Of course, if this is all just an elaborate backdoor pilot for a new Shade series and neither he nor Epiphany return to Hellblazer I'll be a bit miffed (briefly, and then delighted. More Shade!). Still, it was nice to see how Lenny turned out.

 

 

 

*John's mad! Oh, someone just whispered a spell in his ear. Black Death ghosts threaten the Olympics! Oh, it's just some schmuck and John's going to leave him to rot. There's an evil scab monster! Oh, it's just something John did years ago and he'll take the spell off now. Etc.

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Further to my previous post:

 

Camuncoli's lovely, kinetic art and the bright, primary colours are leagues away from the muddy, grot-filled artistic ditch that Hellblazer had been lying face-down in for the best part of five years

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Although I didn't care much for Andy's run on Hellblazer at the time, I thought sniffing Santa's bones was one of many great ideas he had. I liked that a lot.

 

I don't think it was a bad idea either, merely that during the second part of Diggle's run, Constantine was becoming more and more a parody of the Constantine that he declared to have become in the first part of the run (first six-seven issues). He didn't want to be played anymore and all that, but from then on i had the impression that is exactly what was happening to him, in many ways. First John's body got snatched and used by someone else, and when he found people responsible for it, he ended up running away. After Mako showed up, John spend like 4 issues sitting in the taxi or a bar, hiding and and waiting, while Mako was slaying people around him. Not exactly an attitude of someone who is in control. That's why i thought that towards the end of Andy's run, Constantine was becoming like a parody of himself.

 

I would like to see sniffing a Santa in a Constantine-Mite type of story, where john is a drugged out magician, acting from his selfish needs and saving the world only by accident, getting everybody pist-off at him afterwars or something like that.. in Hellblazer it seemed a bit silly to me.

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