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Hellblazer #271

  

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  1. 1. Your marks out of 10 for Hellblazer #271, please...

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HELLBLAZER #271

 

Written by PETER MILLIGAN

Layouts by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI

Finishes by STEFANO LANDINI

Cover by SIMON BISLEY

 

Typical. You ask a girl to marry you and she disappears to another planet. Still recovering from his brush with mental disintegration and his amputated thumb, John Constantine suspects that dark and powerful forces don’t want him to be happy after he proposes to Epiphany...

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Thought we were done with [ Spoiler : Shade but wait, there's more! Tired of Shade but glad to see Epiphany but I'm not sure I'm buying the "wedded bliss as Nergal bane" fodder. He pops back in and it's like "Oh look!" ...yawn..."It's Nergal...again." ] It didn't suck but I hope they don't drag this out for too much longer.

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Fuck this. I've been letting this book pull me along in the hope that, just maybe, next issue will be the one where it finally gets good again, for three consecutive disappointing runs by three consecutive disappointing writers. I'm an idiot, but even I learn eventually. Dropped.

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Well, I'm still giving it a chance myself, but I didn't bother with Diggle or Mina.

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I buy this out of habit...not sure why.

 

At least Constantine picked up a full pint with the hand that wasn't missing a thumb. + 1.

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I'm still digging Miligan a lot more than anyone else for a long time, but he is variable. This one was OK, though the heart does sink a little when old Nergal turns up again.

 

Has the demon WAG been in before, by the way? She seems vaguely familiar, but the Carey and Diggle runs are pretty much an undifferentiated blur for me.

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I'm still digging Miligan a lot more than anyone else for a long time

 

So am I, to be honest - the last year or so has probably been the best Hellblazer's been since about #200, so far as I'm concerned - but there still comes a point when one has to say "enough is enough". For me, that point was either the opening burst of Shade: The Diminishing Returns Man or the SHOCKING RETURN WHICH NO-ONE WAS ASKING FOR.

 

It's not even that he's variable in quality, really - although he very much is, with a distinct pattern of "promising opening, building to a thudding anticlimax" - it's just become unavoidably clear that the aspects of his run which I'm enjoying the least are the same aspects that he's most interested in writing about, and that they won't be going anywhere. So, it's adios, for a while at least.

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Well I'd give the final scene 8/10 and the rest somewhere between 4 and 7.

If only somehow we'd gotten here three months or so back when John (thought he'd) killed Epifanny.

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I don't like Hellblazer's direction anymore.

I liked this better than the last two issues, but it's a Shade story. I like what Milligan has done with Shade, but this isn't what I want to be reading in Hellblazer.

The John Constantine parts, what there was of him, were pretty fun. I didn't mind any of that.

I'll go with a 6, I guess? Not sure how to even rate this, as it's somewhere between "shit" as a HB issue and "OK" as an issue of Shade.

But, I'd still rather be reading an issue of Hellblazer.

 

I'm nearly at the point where Mark is. I'm awaiting the big "marriage" issue.

I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt because John didn't find a way to get to Meta and have a fist fight with Shade, while Epiphany screamed in the background. I expected that was how the "Epiphany on Meta" plot would end...

If John ends up marrying Epiphany, the book is going.

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I found it difficult to come up with any comment on this issue, but I didn't dislike it at all. Keen to see where this story is going, and where the missing thumb arc leads. Great to see Biz back on (part of the) interior art. Shade can fuck off now, please.

 

I guess to some extent I am waiting for Pete's run to hit a high point it probably should have hit already.

 

Hellblazer hasn't been a great comic in a long time — since Brian Azzarello's "Hard Time", maybe — but under Pete it's been entertaining.

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If John ends up marrying Epiphany, the book is going.

Funnily enough, I'm thinking the opposite. Not marrying her would be more of the same old.

 

This issue was a step up from the horrendous last one, but still not very good (apart from the art, which I really like). The ending intrigued me, but I fear any hopes I have of the 1979 angle being used in an interesting way will be dashed, just like the previous hopes I have had.

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Milligan's run seems to be based around the idea that John doesn't want to grow old(er) alone, fair enough but neither Phobe nor Epiphany seem like they'd be his type - it doesn't help that neither's been around long enough to make them in anyway interesting.

 

The bit with the rings was terrible - it's hard not to imagine Constantine sneering at that kind of nonsense.

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Milligan's run seems to be based around the idea that John doesn't want to grow old(er) alone

 

 

Aye, and in theory at least, I really like that idea. It's just the execution that's been so lacking - that bit of business with the rings was so awful that I'm inclined to hope there's some sort of bluff being set up.

 

The fact that Vertigo appear to have given Hellblazer a few months off to make room in the publication schedule for a not-as-good-as-it-used-to-be relaunch of Shade: The Changing Man isn't making things any better, but it's far from the only problem.

 

Generally, I'm just finding the characterisation and dialogue to be so shallow that it's hard to really engage with any of the relationship(s) - that would be fine enough in a different sort of story, but the whole arc at the moment seems to rely on some sort of emotional connection to what John's going through, and we've not been given enough of substance to care about.

 

More superficially, there's also the fact that "Hellblazer, now featuring alien worlds and time-travel!" just feels wrong to me, in a way I have trouble explaining rationally. Ive never had a problem with Constantine cropping up in that sort of story in other titles, but bringing those elements into the main book itself seems like a mistake. The flipside of that, of course, is that I've been whining for years about the excessively-formulaic nature of modern-day Hellblazer, so I feel like a bit of a dickhead for complaining about someone finally breaking out of that rut.

 

 

Lovely art, though.

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Oh dear, I forgot that Epiphany was not Phoebe.

I shall share the blame between my poor memory and a rather disengaging Hellblazer run.

 

So I was thinking this was a continuation of the Phoebe business etc.

On the bright side, if Phoebe turns out to have been 30 years older than Epiphany all this time, it'll make "perfect" sense.

Alternatively if the entire arc (that has taken the Top of His Game mature Constantine to a midlife crisis drippy lovesick scifi character)

turns out to be Ellie's revenge, at least we can return to where we were and try again.

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Oh dear, I forgot that Epiphany was not Phoebe.

 

Wow. That makes me feel a lot more secure in my criticisms of Milligan's characterisation.

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Milligan's run seems to be based around the idea that John doesn't want to grow old(er) alone

 

 

Aye, and in theory at least, I really like that idea. It's just the execution that's been so lacking - that bit of business with the rings was so awful that I'm inclined to hope there's some sort of bluff being set up.

 

...

 

More superficially, there's also the fact that "Hellblazer, now featuring alien worlds and time-travel!" just feels wrong to me, in a way I have trouble explaining rationally. Ive never had a problem with Constantine cropping up in that sort of story in other titles, but bringing those elements into the main book itself seems like a mistake. The flipside of that, of course, is that I've been whining for years about the excessively-formulaic nature of modern-day Hellblazer, so I feel like a bit of a dickhead for complaining about someone finally breaking out of that rut.

 

Lovely art, though.

 

You are being unfair to yourself.

This is only as "un-formulaic" as Azzarello's out of character issues were. And to my tastes does not yet have an arc as good as Azzarello's best.

(Milligan has a couple of good single issues and some disappointing endings. Oh yeah, people were quick to criticize Diggle's run when it kept stringing out into an uber arc, and that's where I am with this.)

 

In summary:

the art's been a refreshing change but the Bisley section of the latest just leaves the Camuncoli/Landini pages standing,

the story seems disjointed and with the Shade story it's out of character with the book,

and I would have preferred some stories with Constantine as the vehicle rather than a rather unfamiliar soap opera character in his own life.

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I didn't even make the Epiphany as Phoebe connection. Is that just conjecture or did something else in the book happen beyond Epiphany winding up back in 1979 that would make that connection more obvious? I'm trying to like the story more by hopefully seeing more there than is presented.

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Based on what we've seen so far, there's no way for Epiphany to be Phoebe - leaving everything else aside, the apparent ages of the characters don't match up at all. Ade was just making a hypothetical ponderance.

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Remove one female John's obsessed with, slot in another one, hope the readers don't notice the change.

Epiphany is Phoebe is a metaphor, man. :smile:

 

I also enjoyed what Milligan was doing with an aging John at the start...but, yeah, what a horrible route to follow.

There is definitely something lacking to the book now. It feels far too juvenile to me. Bright artwork, lack of any serious behaviour on the part of characters, alien worlds...how far we're removed from anything resembling horror.

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I liked it for the humor, if not the story. At this point i don't really care what happens next, Nergal doesn't surprise me, but i enjoy how crazy John is these days. I have a hard time remembering what happened in this issue after only a couple of days.. Yet, i;m still on board for whatever happens.

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I-- I'm actually quite enjoying this. I wasn't sure about the Shade thing at first - using a load of stuff that never appeared in Hellblazer and hasn't been reprinted* as the basis for the story is a bit odd - but now it's clear that Shade's being used to drive the story rather than being the focus of it I'm not so worried. All you need to know is that the crazy magic man has a fixation on turning Epiphany into his dead love. Bosh!

 

John's 'love' of Epiphany is coming off a bit forced. Milligan cheated a bit with Phoebe by skipping the 'getting to know you' phase. But the Epiphany/John stuff really does seem to come out of nowhere. Unless, of course, she dosed him with some of her love potion. Which would make sense, and would be an easy way to break off the relationship at the end of the run.

 

As for the rest of it, Nergal's a bit annoying (how many times has he died now?) but I like the fact that Milligan's setting up five plot strands that he can flit between** rather than being mostly A-plot with a dash of arc story. It makes everything feel pleasingly busy and gets away from the structure used by most of the previous writers.

 

And there's Camuncoli's art! His lovely, lovely art. I actually prefer it to Biz's stuff. Technically I'd find it hard to choose between the two, but Biz's art is a bit grubby and gritty, and we've had a lot of that over the past few years. Works within the context of the main story though.

 

 

 

*Yet. I'm sure this is, at least partly, a cunning way to build up interest in Shade and get people buying the trades.

 

**Constantine in the modern day, Epiphany in the past, Shade trying to force Kathy's resurrection from Hell, Constantine's thumb and its mysterious owner and Nergal and the WAG succubus.

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Oh - and it's nice to see smaller, self-contained stories that connect into a bigger one rather than long, dragged-out things with no end (although the arc the introduced Shade had a bit of that - Constantine being dosed by someone who's never appeared before and dies off-camera was weak).

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