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JasonT

Hellblazer 281

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  1. 1. Your rating for issue 281

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19049_400x600.jpg

 

Click to view extra large image on Comicvine.com >

 

Written by PETER MILLIGAN; Art by GIUSEPPI CAMUNCOLI and STEFANO LANDINI; Cover by SIMON BISLEY

 

John Constantine has faced many demons in his career, but none have affected him like this one: his niece, Gemma, who hates her uncle with demonic fury. Now she will have her revenge. He's already lost a thumb – now he might lose something even more precious…

 

On Sale July 20, 2011

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On page 4 the demon says "Now you shall die", which set the tone of the issue for me.

 

I now have less f*cking idea than before what [ Spoiler : Lady Lazarus ] is, considering that Epiphany is able to [ Spoiler : pour out the last of her ] — I don't mind a mystery, but not one that renders the solution to this issue's problem as incomprehensible as a Star Trek The Next Generation technobabble plot resolution. As usual, readers, stay tuned for the payoff in a future issue!

 

And were we supposed to know why [ Spoiler : the thumb got flicked into the demon's mouth ]? Did I miss something again?

 

I'm not exactly a little ray of sunshine at the moment, so I'm disinclined to be more charitable to an issue that was over in a flash leaving me with care factor zero.

 

The letters column claims "we get a deluge of great mail from HELLBLAZER readers." There's no sign of that in the three vapid letters they scraped together for this issue, FFS.

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I really enjoyed this one, FINALLY. It felt like a Hellblazer issue again. The dialogue between Epiphany and Chas, John battling a demon, and in the end a familiar "It's all your fault"..

The issue had some bizarre moments, like JasonT mentioned. That Lady Lazarus thing.. uhm, yes, whatever.. I had no idea where the thumb came from either, and why the fuck would it hurt the demon, but i was quite happy with the familiar elements that grounded the book as a Hellblazer story and put the weirdness in the passenger seat..

A very joyful read with cool character moments.. I like the development of Epiphany, not too crazy about the way Gemma is handled in the end.. she felt like a plot device again.

Also, a nice cover.

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Yeah, I'm leaning towards JasonT, but didn't dislike the issue either.

It was very average to me, in the sense that it seemed to be there just to wrap up this story-arc (in the way of these things today, when there's never really any actual endings until the creative team leaves the book now).

It set up future story-lines, which look sort of interesting, if I have any idea where those future stories are going. I think I do, but the unexexplained bits that Milligan threw in there might have thrown me off. One particular plot point I'm hoping Milligan is planning to utilize in future stories.

Some of it I think I enjoyed because I felt like I was along on a drug trip with Milligan...the thumb scene had me laughing at the absurdity of it. Maybe not in a totally good way, but still, it was bizarre seemingly with no reasoning.

It seemed rushed in many ways, trying to wrap up the dangling plots for this story-arc as quickly as possible, I'm assuming because Milligan actually cares more about coming stories than he ended up caring about this one as it went along. Some of the dialogue was very sloppy again, totally juxtaposed to the lucid and concise inner monologues.

Overall, I give it a 7, because it was mediocre, but it did serve a purpose, and I was entertained by it.

 

On the negative side, I must mention, the treatment of Gemma is horrid. The book brought up the fact that Gemma is actually older than John's wife, but based on her recent characterization, I was subconsciously registering Gemma as being basically a teenager. She's written as very immature.

 

As far as the letter's page, we did get that one special letter wondering about John's sexual preferences.

I'm sure those were the letters pouring in to the offices, but they could only print ONE of those very special letters.

The reply sounded like something from a 1990s Marvel book too. "Well, maybe yes, maybe no. It's up to you! We don't want to offend any readers one way or another, just keep buying our inoffensive product!".

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John running round trying to fire off spells whilst battling a big silly demon...not really the kind of Hellblazer tale for me.

 

This, pretty much. The Lady Lazarus thing - okay, so Epiphany made some kind of living potion thing that she got addicted to? Which doesn't really square with the idea that Epiphany was approached by LL pretending to be a 'tutor' at the alchemists' college.

 

But yeah, whatevs. The 'battle' between John and the demon was dramatically dead and the victory totally unearned. Monsters need to learn to just kill the hero, not swat him around until he can turn the tables. And the fact that the tables were turned by John remembering a spell off-page (then choking it to death on a thumb... what?) felt lazy.

 

Constantine used to beat monsters by tricking them or outwitting them, not by throwing spells (and thumbs) around like Doctor Strange on casual Friday. This wouldn't be so bad if (as in many Milligan HB stories) it were a metaphor for, or at least the garnish on, some kind of emotional progress. But the issue was bereft of that too. Poor form, but looking forward to the one-shot next issue. 4/10

 

EDIT: Also, Epiphany's lab is in Essex. Seems odd to drive off for an hour and a half to get a potion, then drive back. Especially since she managed to knock up a good demon-repelling potion in someone's bedroom back in 1979...

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A piss poor ending. I didn't hate this issue, but there wasn't anything in there to love either. As mentioned above, We didn't see John come up with the winning spell, and that bit with the thumb and Lady Lazarus i didn't get. Also, whats the deal with Gemma? One minute she's screaming about John raping her, and her killing her, the next she's in the car with 'Pif calmly riding to make a potion. There was probably a lot of good drama in there where that all got sorted that we didn't see. I'm really disappointed with Milligan, i have to tell you.

 

I'm curious Christian, what are talking about when you mention this:

It set up future story-lines, which look sort of interesting...
, because i cannot think of what this could be. Please enlighten me, if you don't mind.

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The fact that John is worried that marriage is changing him, making him have something to care about, causing him to lose his edge.

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The fact that John is worried that marriage is changing him, making him have something to care about, causing him to lose his edge.

 

The part when he realizes he is afraid of not seeing Epiphany again was my favorite part of the book. In contrast to other females in the run, she is written with a distinct personality, so one can relate to what John is experiencing, and i'm sure many experienced that feeling themselves, although maybe not with a demon involved. One wonders if Epiphany can survive this run :) So far Milligan hasn't been very kind to female characters (or anyone else for that matter.. except Terry maybe)

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Another future storyline set up in this issue is Constantine sorting out his demon twin. Not sure if I'll stick around for that, though.

 

Comic books are about A$7 in Australia, by the way.

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The fact that John is worried that marriage is changing him, making him have something to care about, causing him to lose his edge.

That I did like - may have been reading too much into it but when he first made that 'breakthrough' I thought he was going to realise that all was not quite right with his marriage.

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Another future storyline set up in this issue is Constantine sorting out his demon twin. Not sure if I'll stick around for that, though.

 

Comic books are about A$7 in Australia, by the way.

 

 

And just to boost my big brother for a moment, the 7 dollars for an Australian comic would cost an American 7.61

 

Aussie dollars are worth more than US dollars, and that hasn't been so ever before. Once apon a time ( When we still had an Empire ) you needed 2 US $ for every Aussie, but the Aussie was a pound then.

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American dollars are about on par with Mexican money now.

Good thing "we" spent so much building up mega-corporations in this country before "we" decided to destroy the economy, otherwise we couldn't afford a damn thing here anymore.

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Got ten days yet, before we know if you can afford anything, including police, fire-men, army, airforce. And when I say "Afford" I actually mean, borrow more money from China to pay for the rich lifestyles of the denizens of The Hamptons.

 

Man, if you guys default, and so does Greece, I think New Zealand had best close its borders and hide under the bed for a few years.

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I scored this the same as last issue (7), but liked it a bit more.

 

I could have done without the demon fight too. Perhaps the opening splash page could have been toned down, and the rubbish spell sequence should definitely have been dropped. Although the impact of that failed spell was nicely conveyed in the window-shattering entrance.

I scored it so because the internal monologue and the conversations between Chas, Phany and Gemma were better than of late.

 

Gemma has been so badly treated in this story arc that I hope she gets a break.

And when I say that, I would say Peter Milligan has mistreated her as much as anyone in the story.

Good point about her appearing to be a little girl next to her uncle's young chick.

 

There is some ugly art in the set pieces but the storytelling remains excellent.

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On re-reading my last issue review, I have over-rated this issue, as the art did not appeal.

And another thing, it is irksome to keep changing artists during this story.

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I'm guessing that the change of artists was something they couldn't get around, but at least they chose the right issue to do it - 'Gemma's Story' was a break from the narrative flow, and almost existed in its own little bubble, so it makes sense to switch artist's for that one rather than for, say, the issue before.

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I was being facetious after last issue's discussion.

 

Although there have usually been story-based reasons for chopping and changing

175 Bisley/Camuncoli/Landini (Wedding)

276 Simon Bisley ("those nasty finance people get what is coming to them!")

277 to 279 Camuncoli/Landini

280 GAEL BERTRAND (Gemma's tale)

281 Camuncoli/Landini

282 Simon Bisley (Prison story)

283 Camuncoli/Landini

284 GAEL BERTRAND (in which Vertigo nerds get lampooned, I expect)

 

I guess our man is getting so much work in the Marvel universe he needs the back up.

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I think I got a premonition from this issue. When they end Hellblazer-as you good folks have convinced me they are going to that-they are going to kill him off. He is going to die in Vertigo and have only his poofy DCU version left, his own mini-Crisis, if you will. There was some foreshadowing about that in this issue, which I liked and didn't like. I liked the subtle things, like the foreshadowing, the continuity stuff. It just seemed like the ending was a bit convenient, and I know I say that all the time, but I seem to be plagued by big elaborate set-ups where it takes months to get to a point that lasts seconds-like the first time I said sex! Ha ha! Hee hee! Hoo Hoo! :laugh:

 

But, since I think they are going to kill John, I am savoring these final issues until the end inevitably comes. I got one of the stage techs I'm traveling with to start reading Hellblazer. I saw her reading Dead@17 and asked if she was into comics or just that one, and lo and behold. I've increased the reading audience measurably, they can't cancel it now!

 

And is speculating on a character's demise considered a spoiler? I've wondered about that.

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According to Karen Berger, Vertigo is not planning on canceling Hellblazer anytime soon, but maybe this is Constantine's turn to die.. and be REBORN ;)

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They did that one already, back at the end of Delano's run...

:wink:

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Denial is standard issue from any company/group who plans on killing off a significant character in their narrative's native media.

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Thoughts:

 

1- Even if they kill off John that doesn't mean the end of Hellblazer. It's hard to imagine a guy who's literally been to Hell and back multiple times just throwing up his hands and saying 'fuck it' once he dies.

 

2- If Hellblazer were weak enough that it was genuinely going to get it in the back of the neck they wouldn't be putting out the Hellblazer annual that Bisley's illustrating, apparently routing the money from the House of Mystery annual that would have come out in October.

 

3- Hellblazer is a distinct property from the DCU Constantine stuff and serves a specific purpose. I doubt that the introduction of Constantine into the DCU would give them a good enough reason to kill Hellblazer.

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