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JohnMcMahon

Hellblazer #300

  

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JohnMcMahon    562

HELLBLAZER #300

 

HLB_Cv300.jpg

 

Written by PETER MILLIGAN

Art by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLI and STEFANO LANDINI

Cover by SIMON BISLEY

 

On sale FEBRUARY 20 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • MATURE READERS • FINAL ISSUE

 

It’s the heart-rending conclusion of “DEATH AND CIGARETTES”—and the end of Vertigo’s longest running series. John Constantine has escaped, cheated, narrowly avoided and even reversed death on multiple occasions over the past 25 years. Now, we will test whether the old boy has one more second chance in him. Don’t miss this epic, oversized special issue celebrating everything that makes John Constantine so bloody unique.

 

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wolvy    57

So is he really dead or was that some trick? Part of me wants to find out, while the other half just wants to get it over like waiting in the DMV.

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Mark    332

On its own, I don't really have any problem with that preview - nothing about it screams "special final issue!", but it seems apparent from other sources that Milligan wasn't exactly gifted with a huge amount of forewarning, so that's forgivable.

 

The bit with the ritual words was a nice touch - making a point we've seen before, but in an amusing way which also serves as a decent moment of characterisation for Finn - the nephew does seem to have been rather shoehorned into the book in a way that doesn't feel entirely earned, but again, I'll be generous and assume that's down to the need to accelerate through a couple of intended stories to get to the endpoint in time for #300.

 

The main problems I have with this preview are the same ones I've had for a while now - the dialogue and the visuals. Milligan's plotting has largely been working for me lately, with most of the recent stories being the sort of thing I'd normally be quite happy to see in Hellblazer, but so much of the dialogue is stilted and awkward, the pacing just slightly *off*. As for the art...back when I used to bother commenting on the latest issues I was always a fairly keen defender of Camuncoli, whose work I generally really like even when it seems a little tonally unsuited to this title. But over the last year or two the quality of his draftsmanship really seems to have been on the slide - I don't know if it's down to the change in inkers or something else, but there's a rough sketchiness to the line work which I don't think works with his bold, cartoonish character designs and backgrounds. The colouring doesn't help, either - I remember being excited back at the start of Milligan's run by the sudden appearance of a bright, rich colour palette after years of muddy 'Vertigo' brown, but recently that's been replaced by an increasingly bland, washed-out colour scheme which, again, doesn't mesh well with Camuncoli's style to my eyes.

 

So pretty much business as usual, then. Certainly not in the same league of awful as the Constanteen #1 preview (sorry, Demon Chas!), but hardly the sort of thing of which spectacular finales are made. We'll see how the rest of the issue pans out.

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slinker    893

I can't get past the dialogue either, but the story is crap, too (IMO).

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Mark    332
the story is crap, too (IMO).

 

Ehhn...I don't really get that, although I'm open to persuasion. The story is, at heart, fairly straightforward - Constantine appears to be killed (in a sudden, potentially shocking but non-spectacular, non-supernatural way, which is a reasonable enough subversion of expectations), and while he's "dead" we get to see how his nearest and dearest - in this instance his wife and nephew, which is a new enough wrinkle to go some way towards justifying the re-use of a plot outline which we've seen before back in Ennis' '...And The Crowd Goes Wild' (which is one of my favourites) and Azzarello's 'Ashes & Dust (which is emphatically not one of my favourites) - react to his absence. Then he reappears, suitably not-dead, and we'll presumably be seeing how friends and enemies alike react to that.

 

To further mark this one out as a story worth retreading, there's the additional fact that, since we know this is the final issue, there's a genuine possibility that he actually is dead this time, and that it's the apparent return which is part of some sort of con. John's line in the preview about "smoke and mirrors...the ultimate con" didn't ring entirely true to me, so I'm assuming there's going to be at least one significant twist this issue - although, given Milligan's recent record, it could just be dodgy dialogue.

 

On paper, there's nothing wrong with any of that. It's a story which I'd genuinely look forward to reading were it being handled by, say, Mike Carey or even Garth Ennis (again). I'm fairly sure, based on the first two parts, that I'm going to find something seriously lacking in the execution, but there's nothing about the basic outline which I can see as being notably "crap". Again, obviously, all IMO. What is it about the idea which you think is wanting?

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Mark    332

Oh, and one more thing:

 

If this issue ends with John either dead or retired and Wee Paddy O'Constantine Finn taking his uncle's trenchcoat, changing his name to John and heading off to join the Justice League Dark with some made-up line of bullshit about having trained under some guy called Nick Necro, I am going to laugh and laugh and laugh.

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JohnMcMahon    562

Available now on Comixology.

 

[ Spoiler : It's not very good but there's a nice reveal in the opening pages - John's actually dead, Julian's masquerading as him. Constantine doesn't stay dead for long of course. ]

 

It ends with....

 

[ Spoiler : Gemma apparently shooting John with the last of Angie's magic darts. ]

 

And the final page...

 

 

hb300_final_page.jpg

 

I went back and read that awful, awful issue where they introduced the magic dart gun and its effects are never really explained beyond nebulous dark foreboding so I'm really not sure what's happening here.

 

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Mark    332

Well. It wasn't entirely awful, but the stuff with

Gemma did rather ruin it for me. That's consistently been the one thing to irritate me more than anything else about Milligan's run, so it was a bit of a shame to see it once again brought front-and-centre right in time for the end. Especially with a call-back to that demon gun story, one of my least favourite Hellblazer issues ever.

 

Other than that...more of the same, really. Some quite nice ideas undermined by choppy pacing, flat characterisation and - perhaps more importantly - the inclusion of several other, rather less good ideas.

 

Ho hum.

 

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Mark    332

Also: I've just gone back and taken a quick look at the art and colouring on some of Camuncoli's earlier issues, way back at the start of Milligan's run - the contrast is pretty striking, and not in a way that flatters his recent work. What is it with long-running Hellblazer artists, anyway? Frusin, Manco, Camuncoli - all started out with a good run of bold, confident, stylish and distinctive issues, only to each degenerate in turn into sketchier, less detailed, uglier work which didn't tell a story nearly as well as the stuff they were doing when they started on the book. This didn't seem to be an issue for earlier artists - I seem to recall that Dillon and Phillips, in particular, were both much better storytellers by the end of their respective tenures than they were when they started - but it's been a pretty consistent pattern for the past 150 issues or so. Frustrating.

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Shawn    297

A bit of meta-textual commentary via Gemma, I'd say.

 

 

I've not been reading the book, obivously, so can someone provide a bit of background on [ Spoiler : Angie's Magic Dart. What did it do? Turn John into a normal fellow? ]. Explain it like a 5 year old :icon_wink:

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Mark    332

Do you actually know what's happening on those closing pages then ?!

 

No idea.

 

If I had to guess, the obvious implication is that

Gemma's Demon Gun somehow wiped out 'our' version of John's life, leaving a version of him who never got involved in all the supernatural shit in the first place - back in Liverpool, no scar, not magically preserved age-wise...the full works. But I'm buggered if I can figure out how, or why, and I'm not about to go back and re-read the older issue to find out if it helps at all.

 

But that's pure speculation.

 

 

I do like

 

 

all the names on the shelves and bottles behind him in that final panel, though. A nice touch.

 

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slinker    893

Yeah, I have no idea what any of those pages mean. I'll need to see it all in context. What issue was that dart thing introduced, I don't remember it and it seems like another shitty holy shotgun or some shit.

 

 

Don't forget to listen to the soundtrack as you read it.

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Demon Chas08    295

Yeah, I have no idea what any of those pages mean. I'll need to see it all in context. What issue was that dart thing introduced, I don't remember it and it seems like another shitty holy shotgun or some shit.

 

 

Don't forget to listen to the soundtrack as you read it.

Nine issues ago...

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wolvy    57

I consider this ending the typical ending of a series that ends on a cliff hanger. Nothing really get's resolved and more questions get asked. Leaving the viewer/reader frustrated and rather pissed off, with a mixture of depression.

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J. White    6

I came out of my "Hellblazer retirement" for this one. I had to see how it all ended. Given all the responces to the issues over the years I didn't really find it nessisary to track down old issues. That said, I find both convienent and disconcerning that this ending, lacking any real substance and clarity, could be read all on its own. I got what Mark speculated. If that's indeed a plausible interpretation, then I find it fitting; dodgy execution but still fitting to me.*

 

So that's it for me. I won't be bothered with "Constantine". The John Constantine I know is gone. So long.

 

*but I'm a pessimist and this is how I really feel.

I consider this ending the typical ending of a series that ends on a cliff hanger. Nothing really get's resolved and more questions get asked. Leaving the viewer/reader frustrated and rather pissed off, with a mixture of depression.

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A. Heathen    1,129

Oh dearie dearie me.

 

To address non-spoilery matters first, Camuncoli's artwork was always unsuited to this book for me, except in a one off sense in certain circumstances. It deteriorated from sub-Teddy Kristiansen sharp stylised work of the early days and then improved immensely when Landini started inking. Since Milligan arrived it's been worsening rather like a beautiful fresh apple rotting over a period of weeks as depicted by Bill Sienkewicz when drunk.

 

The writing deteriorated much more quickly.

 

The debasement of Gemma has an almost honourable denouement here, but helpfully she's still portrayed as an idiot - independently of any character development.

 

That final panel spoilered by Mr McMahon above should be viewed free of any context as it is the only panel worth reading in this entire comic.

 

Once we've all read it, it'd make a good forum banner with an iota of tweaking.

 

On to spoilers

 

 

Peter Milligan

 

 

 

 

Hahahaha, I slay me.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

 

[ Spoiler : The finale of last issue was almost plausible, but it was very quicly evident that this was not JC. Who could possibly have guessed Julian? I guess Demon Constantine.

 

I am only slightly pleased to see that the Anti-Kit known to me as Phanny* is as much of an idiot as Gemma. Can anyone tell me if Peter Milligan has written any decent women ever?

Or since the end of the original Shade if you prefer.

 

(*For that is what Epiphany Greaves is defined by in this issue.)

 

The lack of foreboding or even what James Wilkinson would have called foreshadowing (when there was any of that in this book) of several key factors of this issue is striking.

 

Is one of the "Fates" Ray Fawkes?

I think so.

 

Chas? Bizarre. It's like the writer has never read Hellblazer but has a 100 word character synopsis from the vertigo handbook.

 

That smoking ashes thing would have been a decent idea in the midst of a better story with some sort of emotional impact.

 

The First of the Fallen.

Need we say more than this story has the shittest superhero world villain ?

 

The Holy Shotgun of Angela fires Constantinian Kryptonite.

It sent Demon Constantine away because of some sort of magic didn't it? So, um.

Yeah, Demon Blood !

Maybe?

 

The it was all a dream option gives a sort of closure.

In my version, which will be the only one I need, this was a fictional life as per the Mike Carey Constantine Triplets.

 

I think the drinkers in the final panel are the various Hellblazer editors. Or some of them. ]

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Christian    744

I consider this ending the typical ending of a series that ends on a cliff hanger. Nothing really get's resolved and more questions get asked. Leaving the viewer/reader frustrated and rather pissed off, with a mixture of depression.

 

We'll have to wait for the movie. Where they'll ignore all the plot points left by the final issue, and pretend like things are at a totally different point from the last time we saw John, and just move ahead. See:X-Files second movie.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

While there's nothing absolutely wrong with the plot, it's not a story I'm particularly interested in seeing in Hellblazer, especially considering that Ennis basically did the same plot better in one issue back in the 1990s.

John being married. John dealing with gangsters. It could be done ok, I suppose, but the plot just seems so generic to me. Like any character could easily fit into the plot.

What makes it special is the writing....The dialogue and the way the story is written, that makes the book stand out. Sure, it stands out as one of the worst comics being published by a major publisher today (DC also ranks quite a few of those, to be sure), but special none the less.

 

Anyway, it's good to know that long-time readers are being left lost by the final issue of Hellblazer. A fitting end to this book after the last 50 issues, and presaging the debut of CONSTANTINE!

This should be looked at in the next decade as a "how-to" guide for killing any interest in a character. Along with a detailed look at most Peter Parker stories since 1993.

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Christian    744

I liked how Milligan spells out all the "difficult" plot points for the slow readers, like that John was putting on an act to fool the Fates that he had accepted death, yet in the ending scene, things were left confusing even for the sharp readers. That about sums up my thoughts on the issue.

I'll give it a 2.

 

I wish I could say the final issue of the comic that was once my absolute favourite was hard to rate, but it wasn't. It felt like a bunch of random, tacked together scenes with bad writing, until the very end. The last couple of pages keep it from failing, but even that should have been done so much better.

You can say Milligan had to rush it, but it's not like the rest of his run holds together. It still could have been better written, evne if Milligan did have to rush to wrap up some dangling threads. Like we really even cared about The First story-line by this point, when the book is dead, and we'd rather forget Milligan's run anyway.

 

I guess I like the idea of John Constantine turning into Bacchus. That's what happens at the end, right? Right?

Vertigo 2013!

Sadly, I can only say it's finally over.

 

You know what I could have bought? John getting antsy with his new life. Not feeling as happy as he thought he would. Creating an elaborate, complicated scheme to convince everyone that he was dead, so he could leave Epiphany behind and restart his life again.

It's got the bastard John, but who tries to do right. Feeling that it's better if Epiphany feels he's dead and moves on, rather than taking the guts to actually end it himself.

A bittersweet ending.

Makes more sense than the mess that was all of issue #300, minus the last few pages.

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Christian    744

I mean, Bacchus is a really good comic. It's only fitting that in the end, tired, worn out Hellblazer turns into a character in a better written book.

Too bad Bacchus has been gone off the racks for over a decade now....If this had gotten more people reading Bacchus, it would have been worth all the Milligan run....even the turning Gemma into an incest obsessed object of sexism.

Maybe, what we can take away from all this, is that Bacchus was an object lesson. Hellblazer probably should have ended over a decade ago, then we'd be talking about what a damn grand comic that was, and how much we missed it.

Instead of pondering if Constantine could actually be worse (as opposed to just as bad as) than the final couple of years of Hellblazer.

Huh. Bacchus, indeed. A lot to think about, kiddies.

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