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James

Milligan's Hellblazer gets on my tits a bit

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I have actually been thinking about dropping the title. Milligans work just seems like it doesn't have a great deal of interesting things to tell.

 

For such a long time ( a year? ) comic after comic it has seemed like half the time is spent "touching bases" or counting off bits and pieces of his history, something like they were treating every issue as part "John 101" for new fans. "When faced with X our John does Y".

 

Even getting that ( At the least, different, if not interesting ) Shade guy, who was new to me, was treated more as a chance to go over previous events.

 

I didn't like Denise Minas stories much at all, but at least she tried interesting stuff compared to recent work. Last time I brought it, i got Unwritten and Thor on the same trip into town. I read them that night, but didn't even bother taking Hellblazer out of the bag for 3 days. It just doesn't hold the interest.

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Something similar to this was John's encounter with Kit in #275, with John telling Kit "what her problem was". Show, don't tell that ain't. And it seems to me that the pacing of dialog and plot is a bit off - some of the exchanges that even might work are condensed to 4-5 speech bubbles in the same panel, making it all feel kinda rushed. Some of it should've been allowed to breathe a bit, over several panels, decompression be damned, or at least find a way with the artwork/letterer to make it work better.

 

Yeah. Milligan's run just feels a bit breathless, like he's got five years of story planned, four years to write it in and is worried that the whole thing is going to get axed any day now.

 

Partly that's to do with the structure, I think. I know people use 'soap opera' as shorthand for anything that has a touch of the kitchen sink about it, but structurally Milligan is adhering to the soap opera school of thought: every major storyline ends, continues and begins a new arc, so that there's always a new crisis waiting to be dealt with.

 

Unfortunately it means there's very little room for Milligan to put his feet up and see how everyone's feeling. Gotta push the characters into their next required configuration, because if they're not doing that by this story, then they won't be able to do this in that one. I mean, look at Shade: you'd have a bunch of mad shit for six issues, then just an issue of Lenny and George driving across America, or Shade turning into a nightclub dance floor or something. Space to breathe and space to let the characters explore the status quo, rather than shoving them straight on to the next crisis.

 

I will say that I prefer this soap opera mode to the relentless uber-long-term arcs of Mina and Diggle though.

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One other thing: Milligan used to be amazing at creating fully fleshed-out, emotionally plausible characters, so it's weird to see him doing these broad strokes and rough sketches. He's got form - I'm thinking of the excellent mini Girl here - but from what I recall he used to save that stuff for short-form works.

 

Ah well. I'm still enjoying the comic a lot, I just can't help but feel that it ought to be excellent rather than entertaining.

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Yeah, I can't deny that I'm entertained, but really, I don't think I could get someone to start reading Hellblazer with Milligan's trades and expect him/her to understand what a great series/character it is, which I could pull off with Carey's, hell, maybe even Diggle's. Ennis, Delano and even Azz are par for the course.

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On the bright side, I just read that Shade DCU comic from Flashpoint, and Milligan's Hellblazer pisses all over that.

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Yeah, I can't deny that I'm entertained, but really, I don't think I could get someone to start reading Hellblazer with Milligan's trades and expect him/her to understand what a great series/character it is, which I could pull off with Carey's, hell, maybe even Diggle's. Ennis, Delano and even Azz are par for the course.

 

 

I have said it before, and I will say it again, but "Freezes Over" is definitely the best Hellblazer story to introduce new folks to the book.

DISCLAIMER: I have probably not said it quite so forcefully, but I reckon it stands out as the essence of the book without having to worry about other stories.

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On the bright side, I just read that Shade DCU comic from Flashpoint, and Milligan's Hellblazer pisses all over that.

 

 

 

That bad, huh?

 

 

 

I have said it before, and I will say it again, but "Freezes Over" is definitely the best Hellblazer story to introduce new folks to the book.

DISCLAIMER: I have probably not said it quite so forcefully, but I reckon it stands out as the essence of the book without having to worry about other stories.

 

 

I'll second that. Frusin was on his best behavior as well, moody yet not too grinning.

 

Though I've found that Hard Time is also a good entry point, so I often just stick Azz's TPB's into people's hands, if I think they're not ready for Hellblazer that'll make them work more than they're used to as casual readers. After they get hooked on the mystery of J.C. I give them Ennis or Ellis, and save Carey for last, or simply get them to start from the beginning, if they can get used to the wordiness and the coloring/artwork.

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Well, in general, I'd agree, but Milligan's recent output on the title I wouldn't rank very highly.

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All His Engines is a good one. Character's spot on, the threat is interesting, the concepts are clever, the continual build-up of threat is well executed and John's victory seems plausible and un-forced.

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I like All His Engines very much, though some of it seems just a bit "lite" to me to be a quintessential J.C. story. I can't really describe it, it all seems so perfect, but some of it just fails to grasp me in a way some other classics do. I had the same feeling regarding Brubaker's "The Man Who Laughs" Joker OGN.

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I like Milligan well enough. It's not classic Hellblazer by any means but it does the job. So far I don't feel like he has soared per se, but the stumbles feel pretty small. In comparison most of the stories are satisfying. I will be extremely disappointed if Epiphany gets eaten by a monster before Milligan leaves, however.

 

Milligan's John does seem a lot more brutal than he is usually written as. Compare it how torn up he was when he killed the Family Man, an actual serial murderer who killed his own father.

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I like All His Engines very much, though some of it seems just a bit "lite" to me to be a quintessential J.C. story. I can't really describe it, it all seems so perfect, but some of it just fails to grasp me in a way some other classics do. I had the same feeling regarding Brubaker's "The Man Who Laughs" Joker OGN.

I really enjoyed All His Engines too but there was just something off.

It's far from formulaic but the Constantine formula felt apparent here.

Which is probably why it works well as an Hellblazer introduction.

 

Milligan's Hellblazer has left me cold.

Tonally it's not what I prefer and simply put his heart just doesn't appear to be in it.

The wedding issue was the last straw for me.

A cheap and underwhelming use of Kit, a crude and quite flimsy set up for Gemma's revenge (It's all a misunderstanding you see!), more fucking Nergal with a not so clever defeat and then Con job finishes him off by pulling his fucking spine out!?

 

Character wise Azzarello was off but some anticlimaxes aside I might actually prefer his run.

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I like Milligan well enough. It's not classic Hellblazer by any means but it does the job. So far I don't feel like he has soared per se, but the stumbles feel pretty small. In comparison most of the stories are satisfying. I will be extremely disappointed if Epiphany gets eaten by a monster before Milligan leaves, however.

 

Milligan's John does seem a lot more brutal than he is usually written as. Compare it how torn up he was when he killed the Family Man, an actual serial murderer who killed his own father.

Delano's John felt like a living breathing person on such a level that I don't feel has since been re-achieved.

The scene in The Fear Machine where he holds the traumatised journalist's hand through out the night is just such a character highlight.

Even amongst the great subsequent runs, there's been a slight calcifying of John.

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I like Milligan well enough. It's not classic Hellblazer by any means but it does the job. So far I don't feel like he has soared per se, but the stumbles feel pretty small. In comparison most of the stories are satisfying. I will be extremely disappointed if Epiphany gets eaten by a monster before Milligan leaves, however.

 

Milligan's John does seem a lot more brutal than he is usually written as. Compare it how torn up he was when he killed the Family Man, an actual serial murderer who killed his own father.

Delano's John felt like a living breathing person on such a level that I don't feel has since been re-achieved.

The scene in The Fear Machine where he holds the traumatised journalist's hand through out the night is just such a character highlight.

Even amongst the great subsequent runs, there's been a slight calcifying of John.

 

Which could be considered a plausible change in John over time, considering how much crap he goes through, IF, and only IF, it was done consistently.

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