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JohnMcMahon

Hellblazer #300

  

23 members have voted

  1. 1. Your marks out of 10 for Hellblazer #300, please...

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Mark    333

Seconded.

 

 

I choose to believe that the ending represents all and none of the suggested options. On the one hand, that sort of ambiguity could be seen as a bit of a cheap writerly contrivance - in a lot of ways it's taking the easy way out - but in this instance, I find it quite fitting. I neither need nor want everything to be spelled out for me, and given how little I've cared for most of the endings Milligan's come up with on his own, I'm actually fairly grateful that he's left the actual, final end up to us to decide. I'm pretty sure that my imagination is capable of interpreting those last couple of pages in a manner rather more satisfying than whatever Milligan himself would have chosen.

 

Still a bit of an ignominious anticlimax to Vertigo's longest-running book, though. A hastily assembled, rushed wrap-up for a handful of recent loose ends, almost entirely devoid of any nods to the past prior to the current run (for which I don't entirely blame Milligan, who clearly had this dumped on him at the last possible moment - no time to squeeze in so much as a couple of commemorative pinups/splash pages by a few of the many, many artists who've said how much they'd have loved the chance to do something Hellblazer-related. Appropriate enough, I suppose, given what a complete clusterfuck DC appear to have made of their editorial departments of late, but still a damn shame.

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TimC    43

As with most of Milligan's run, I enjoyed this a lot more than the rest of you whinging bastards, but won't argue the toss right now.

 

But anyone who's assuming the magic bullet that John tossed back to Gemma is the same one he took from her probably needs to think on.

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A. Heathen    1,171

I did like the last page or two, and figured it a very fitting ending for our John. Raindog's speculation as to who he is and how he got there is great and leaves a lot to our own interpretations.

 

I might spend some time cut and pasting silent panels from the 299 issues (well not really the last three dozen) telling Constantine's story in wordless cameos. It'd have been a more suitable ending than this.

 

Tim, glad you've been enjoying it, and you're not alone judging by comments elsewhere,

but the complaints here are based on a lot of time invested in a comic that has been poorly commemorated by this issue. Do you have any evidence for some sort of magic bullet switcheroo?

 

And of course, the fact that it's been shite.

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Lou K    1,097

I did like the last page or two, and figured it a very fitting ending for our John. Raindog's speculation as to who he is and how he got there is great and leaves a lot to our own interpretations.

 

I might spend some time cut and pasting silent panels from the 299 issues (well not really the last three dozen) telling Constantine's story in wordless cameos. It'd have been a more suitable ending than this.

 

 

 

Can't wait!

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Mark    333

Tim, glad you've been enjoying it, and you're not alone judging by comments elsewhere,

but the complaints here are based on a lot of time invested in a comic that has been poorly commemorated by this issue.

 

Yeah, but presumably Tim's enjoyment of the issue was based on a similar longterm investment and a simple disagreement about the adequacy of the finale's commemorativity. Commemorativeness. Whatever.

 

I don't especially disagree with most of your criticisms of this issue, but I must admit that there's been a stridency to the way you're expressing them that's uncharacteristic of you. I've got a lot of respect for your usually firm grasp of the opinion/fact divide - you've called me out, quite correctly, on a couple of occasions when I've allowed my partiality to get the better of me in the Doctor Who thread, for example - but I think you've come closer to landing on the wrong side of it than I'd expect of you when it comes to this particular issue. I sympathise - as a long term reader who hasn't enjoyed Milligan's run I feel much the same way - but stuff like the comment I've quoted here does you les credit than you deserve.

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Atticus    164

You'll have to speak up, Atticus. I cannot hear you.

 

Oops. That ok for you now? Ya cheeky bastard :laugh:

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Lou K    1,097

You'll have to speak up, Atticus. I cannot hear you.

 

Oops. That ok for you now? Ya cheeky bastard :laugh:

 

Much better, thank you. :icon_wink: :tongue:

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A. Heathen    1,171

Tim, glad you've been enjoying it, and you're not alone judging by comments elsewhere,

but the complaints here are based on a lot of time invested in a comic that has been poorly commemorated by this issue.

 

Yeah, but presumably Tim's enjoyment of the issue was based on a similar longterm investment and a simple disagreement about the adequacy of the finale's commemorativity. Commemorativeness. Whatever.

...

I sympathise - as a long term reader who hasn't enjoyed Milligan's run I feel much the same way - but stuff like the comment I've quoted here does you les credit than you deserve.

 

You're reading something I didn't mean to say.

So I apologise to Tim if it seems that I was doing anything more than addressing the term "whinger" which I think was tongue in cheek.

I don't think Tim's yet defended it as a fitting commemoration, though. He's enjoyed Milligan's run, and it's certainly an end to that.

 

As for your other comment, I am everso slightly exaggerating some of my disenchantment for comic effect.

I perceive a need to address the way we mostly feel about it in a few more words.

 

"Stridency" eh.

I don't read many shit comics, so it's hard to know how to review them.

 

Let me say that this is not even in my bottom 50 of all Hellblazer comics ever.

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Mark    333

Fair enough :-) Thanks for clarifying.

 

For the most part I've figured it was hyperbole - and mostly enjoyable hyperbole at that - there's just something about the "my opinion is more right than yours because I've been a fan for longer than you" line of argument that really pushes my buttons, and even though I knew that wasn't what you were actually saying (and if it had been, TimC would have been better placed to object to it than me), it was closer than I was entirely comfortable with. Cheers for taking it in the spirit intended.

 

I'm inclined to agree about the lack of commemorative weight, as I touched on in my post earlier, but that's something I blame DC for more than anything. Milligan was well within his rights to devote most of his final issue to wrapping up his own story, even if it's a story I didn't really care for - and he did at least manage to throw us those final couple of pages, which were about as close as we were likely to get to a satisfying and appropriate ending at this point. Not quite close enough for my tastes, but credit due for trying.

 

On which note, while it didn't occur to me when I read it at first, I'm erring towards Tim's dart switch theory. One final get-out-of-dying-free con seems a suitable enough way to say goodbye to the character that I'm going along with it whether it was intended or not (and I haven't re-read it to see how plausibly intentional it feels yet). It's just a shame about the route it took to get there, really - I think a story which credibly brought Gemma to where she is in that final scene could potentially have made for an excellent ending to John's story, and I rather wish that was what I thought we got.

 

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Christian    805

Considering Milligan's run takes up nearly 50 issues worth of HB, yeah, I wouldn't rank it in the bottom 50 either.

 

The ending pages have resonance. It's just a shame that they couldn't be clear.

The whole "magic bullet" doesn't even seem to hit John, if you look at that page. There's just clear white space, and the bullet. It doesn't seem to puncture any skin. Is it meant to metaphorically be hitting the reader? I can't say.

The magic bullet completely destroyed all elements of Demon John, when it was first used in HB. Maybe there is a detail that we have forgotten, but it was one of those "worst 50 issues".

Swtiching the bullets is simply a guess based on John's long history of pulling a con, yet the final page of the issue does not show any proof that John did switch the bullets. The look on his face showed that he had not pulled off a great con and escaped it all, just the opposite.

 

This issue could have been handled very well. There was a lot of room for a promising ending to John's tenure, except it was all hidden amidst what was actually printed on the page. Most of what I see in reviews are ideas that people hoped to see on the page, and that they could almost get out of the reading, but yet, ideas that Milligan did not include within the actual story.

That's probably the greatest shame, that a seasoned writer of quality comic material since the 1980s could not clearly explicate his ideas on the page. Instead, as Adrian already pointed out, the actual content of the story was wasted on trying to wrap up plot threads that would have been better just left ignored in the final issue. As some reviewers have pointed out, this was more the fitting end for Milligan's run, rather than for Hellblazer.

 

John growing tired of life. John seeing that people he cares about are better off without him. John trying to change, and deciding that it would never work, and he'd be better off dead than trying to do what he talked about with Epiphany. John dying and discovering that his version of Hell is exactly what he talked about with Epiphany, and there's simply no way for him to escape that fate. These are all excellent ways to end Hellblazer. Ways that would have great emotional resonance with me as the reader (and I think many HB fans). Yet, none of that was made clear in the issue, where Milligan seemed to bounce around from idea to idea.

"John's tried of life." "Oh no he's not! John is always working a con!" I already went into the failures of the whole "people are better off without John" failure. It's just spastic writing, something that a seasoned writer of quality comics since the 1980s shouldn't be having problems with.

Maybe that "magic bullet" was meant to hit the reader in the head, so we could all imagine how the issue worked much better than what Milligan had done for the preceding number of pages.

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A. Heathen    1,171

If he did swap it, then the whole scene loses any of its gravitas and dignity for Gemma,

so I am quite prepared to have that screwed up too.

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A. Heathen    1,171

Maybe that "magic bullet" was meant to hit the reader in the head, so we could all imagine how the issue worked much better than what Milligan had done for the preceding number of pages.

 

:hattip: :hattip: :hattip:

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wolvy    58

How exactly did he get rid of Epiphany? I mean the girl stayed with him when he put her through hell and when he shagged his ex GF to time travel... So her dumping him for faking his death sounds kind of stupid.

 

"Of all the awful things you have done to me...THIS is by far the worst! We are done, John Constantine!!"

 

Also the ending just seems like Milligan essentially went like "You want me to write an ending on such short notice?!" "Yes.. Yes we do." "(Insert angry Englishman mumbling and grumbling nonstop.)" "What?". "I said I'll do it.. "-Milligan

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Mark    333

If he did swap it, then the whole scene loses any of its gravitas and dignity for Gemma,

so I am quite prepared to have that screwed up too.

 

On that, I think we're just going to have to disagree. As it actually played out I don't think Gemma was given the story she deserved, but if we're mentally filling in the gaps to turn it into something a bit more satisfying anyway, I don't think the switcheroo actually undermines any of the catharsis or closure she's given. She still gets to make the choice, because John still recognizes that it's her choice to make...he just also gets away without actually dying, because that's who he is. One final bastard's trick - made all the better by the fact that Gemma will never know she was duped - seems entirely fitting to me.

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wolvy    58

If he did swap it, then the whole scene loses any of its gravitas and dignity for Gemma,

so I am quite prepared to have that screwed up too.

 

On that, I think we're just going to have to disagree. As it actually played out I don't think Gemma was given the story she deserved, but if we're mentally filling in the gaps to turn it into something a bit more satisfying anyway, I don't think the switcheroo actually undermines any of the catharsis or closure she's given. She still gets to make the choice, because John still recognizes that it's her choice to make...he just also gets away without actually dying, because that's who he is. One final bastard's trick - made all the better by the fact that Gemma will never know she was duped - seems entirely fitting to me.

 

I don't think she was duped.. Otherwise John wouldn't be standing alone in a pub with a buggered look on his face.

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Demon Chas08    295

If he did swap it, then the whole scene loses any of its gravitas and dignity for Gemma,

so I am quite prepared to have that screwed up too.

 

On that, I think we're just going to have to disagree. As it actually played out I don't think Gemma was given the story she deserved, but if we're mentally filling in the gaps to turn it into something a bit more satisfying anyway, I don't think the switcheroo actually undermines any of the catharsis or closure she's given. She still gets to make the choice, because John still recognizes that it's her choice to make...he just also gets away without actually dying, because that's who he is. One final bastard's trick - made all the better by the fact that Gemma will never know she was duped - seems entirely fitting to me.

 

Had Milligan not include Gemma and Angie (plus Kit to a extent) during his run; morphing them into one-dimentional husks, I'd probably be more lenient and we'd remember them just they were when we last saw them.

 

Scratch that. #251 to this never happened. Angie's still working the diner, Gemma's the same as she was under Carey in all her kneecap smashing glory and Kit's still dealing with family drama in Belfast.

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Mark    333
Had Milligan not include Gemma and Angie (plus Kit to a extent) during his run; morphing them into one-dimentional husks, I'd probably be more lenient

 

Yeah, that's the bit I have to do the greatest amount of mental gymnastics to get around. Everything else about Milligan's run, I'm willing to write off as just not particularly to my taste. The handling of Gemma & Angie, on the other hand, I find a lot harder to reconcile. The latter just felt pointlessly mean-spirited, while the former...I don't know where to start. But Gemma used to be one of my favourite supporting characters in comics (as I said, as the culmination to a somewhat different, rather better story I couldn't think of anything more fitting than having her be the one to push the button and end everything), and under Milligan she was...well, yeah.

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Demon Chas08    295
Had Milligan not include Gemma and Angie (plus Kit to a extent) during his run; morphing them into one-dimentional husks, I'd probably be more lenient

 

Yeah, that's the bit I have to do the greatest amount of mental gymnastics to get around. Everything else about Milligan's run, I'm willing to write off as just not particularly to my taste. The handling of Gemma & Angie, on the other hand, I find a lot harder to reconcile. The latter just felt pointlessly mean-spirited, while the former...I don't know where to start. But Gemma used to be one of my favourite supporting characters in comics (as I said, as the culmination to a somewhat different, rather better story I couldn't think of anything more fitting than having her be the one to push the button and end everything), and under Milligan she was...well, yeah.

 

Just as weak as her God cocksucking daddy ever was alive?

 

That husk we've endured isn't/wasn't the 34-35 year old woman who kept shouting to her uncle that she could take care of herself (case in point #187-88, Staring at the Wall, Reason to be Cheerful, and Down In the Ground...); Even during Mina, Empathy influence aside, she still handled herself. Milligan basically regressed her to the little girl we were first introduced to. And Angie? Goddamn, that was just as awful. How he thought this interpretation would be appealing while keeping a straight face is beyond me. If he wanted a fat biiter ex he could've created a new one-off character and leave it at that.

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Christian    805

Gemma was regressed far worse than that. She wasn't like that, even as a child. Ennis created a pretty believable pubescent aged female character. There was nothing wrong with her.

Yes, I think the important aspect was that she was a teenager at the time she first appeared, while now, it's been about twenty years.

Irregardless, Gemma was turned into an unrecognizable character. Angie was also. These were warped versions of those characters, bearing no resemblance to anything they had shown before.

A lot of Gemma's characteristics, while stereotypical and offensive, were written to fit with a person aged early-20s. I don't think Milligan ever realized that Gemma was actually over 30 years old now.

I don't know if Milligan thought he was being funny.

Finn isn't the same, as Milligan created him, and no one cared about him anyway, but Milligan's version of Finn was so over the top, as well. Finn's story was basically the exact same as Ennis' story about Gemma in HB #62, except there was no nuance*. And, Finn was also an adult. That story worked so much better with a young person, idolizing someone they find cool based on the little they know of that person. Adults usually do not act that way.

*That's a pretty big criticism, considering that Ennis was never known as the most subtle of writers.

The only character Milligan didn't write in that manner was Epiphany, who I never totally got a feel for during the entire run. She was mostly bland, but seemed to mix a few stock elements, so that she could subtly alter based on Milligan's need for a plot.

Actually, if you think about it, there was that whole she's suicidal thing, that was quickly dropped. I don't even remember the details now, but that was a bit off as well.

If Milligan wanted to show how damaging John had been to those close to him, there were certainly much better ways to go about it. A better way would have been to show that no one liked or trusted John anymore, that they just wanted to move on with their lives, leaving John alone to face the consequences of how he's effected others.

That's the thing, I still can't figure out if Milligan was going for something during his run, and just had no idea how to get those ideas on paper, or if people are trying to read something into the erratic writing style that Milligan decided to bring to Hellblazer. Milligan's Hellblazer was lacking as far as being mature, it was very immature.

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Demon Chas08    295

How exactly did he get rid of Epiphany? I mean the girl stayed with him when he put her through hell and when he shagged his ex GF to time travel... So her dumping him for faking his death sounds kind of stupid.

 

"Of all the awful things you have done to me...THIS is by far the worst! We are done, John Constantine!!"

 

Also the ending just seems like Milligan essentially went like "You want me to write an ending on such short notice?!" "Yes.. Yes we do." "(Insert angry Englishman mumbling and grumbling nonstop.)" "What?". "I said I'll do it.. "-Milligan

I wish the issue ended there and spare us the dart shit.

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JasonT    456
Gemma was regressed far worse than that. She wasn't like that, even as a child. Ennis created a pretty believable pubescent aged female character. There was nothing wrong with her.

Yes, I think the important aspect was that she was a teenager at the time she first appeared, while now, it's been about twenty years.

 

Delano created Gemma. She was under ten when she first appeared. This surely proves your Delano-worship is a pale shadow of mine.

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metanoia    69
Gemma was regressed far worse than that. She wasn't like that, even as a child. Ennis created a pretty believable pubescent aged female character. There was nothing wrong with her.

Yes, I think the important aspect was that she was a teenager at the time she first appeared, while now, it's been about twenty years.

 

Delano created Gemma. She was under ten when she first appeared. This surely proves your Delano-worship is a pale shadow of mine.

 

He's getting old, his memory is going. Happy Birthday Christian

 

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Christian    805

Even though to the untrained eye, it looks like that is what I'm saying, I'm actually responding directly to Demon Chas when I wrote that. I was saying that the version of Gemma he was referring to, and that Milligan seemed to try referencing, was the one to be traced directly to the Ennis story.

 

I do remember the younger Gemma in the story where she was kidnapped. I really loved that one.

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Mark    333

Nice try, but you did actually use the sentence "she was a teenager when she first appeared"... :-P

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