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JasonWanderer

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Posts posted by JasonWanderer

  1. On 2/14/2020 at 8:00 AM, dogpoet said:

    The superhero thing hadn't occurred to me, but that's definitely an interesting reading of the Milligan run and its aftermath.

    Particularly when you consider that, in Hellblazer's initial run and the Swamp Thing appearances (even under Nancy "Cor blimey!" Collins), John boy was written as using the sort of elaborate ritual magic you see in Dennis Wheatley novels to far less effect than all of the mystic handwavers like Zatanna or Doctor Fate (or even Jason Blood, come to that). If anything Ennis, for all that's said against him, actually picked up on that and doubled down on it during his run.

    Presumably Milligan, Bond or Didio decided that having a comic whose protagonist was an ageing scouse hipster version of the duke du Richelieu wouldn't be as much fun as one where he was a plainclothes superhero.

    They don't call him Conjob for no reason!

    You're absolutely spot on; John was never the traditional magician.  At least not in the sense that he'd shoot spells from his palms (well, until he did...).  What made Constantine stand out isn't that he was proficient in magic or had any capabilities; he was just some guy that picked up on occult knowledge and went forward with it. 

    Even more, the one thing that is special about John is his demon blood and that was used frequently as a negative power.  It seemed like an outright reversal of the normal superhero idea where a character gets to have abilities because of blood or a serum or something like that.

    Ennis was quite good at separating John from actual spell casting.  A lot of what he did involved sigil creation and empowering rituals.  The Shows have taken liberties with that, making Constantine a slight bit closer to the magical 52 version, but there's this moment at the end of the first episode of Constantine: John's got flaming hands, but instead of just a spell, they have him break up a lighter, rub the fluid over his palms, and then light himself up.  Protection magic, but still a rough, almost sleight of hand kind.

    I'd say the direction it went made Constantine more appealing to a broader audience, but I don't even think that's true since the more human he is, the more people seem to like him.

    • Upvote 2
  2. On 2/12/2020 at 10:31 AM, dogpoet said:

    There was some nonsense in Justice League Dark about it being Nick Necro's trenchcoat that he took with him when he ran off with Zatanna. (Necro mentions this during a fight scene and seems a lot more pissed off about having his coat nicked than losing his girlfriend, iirc.) Obviously Milligan decided that Devil's Trenchcoat story wasn't quite daft enough and he could do something even stupider with the idea. (Unless that was Lemire by then.)

    It can't possibly the same coat he'd always had, of course, as he replaces it  in other stories besides the Ennis and Carey. Delano alone shows him buying a replacement a couple of times, doesn't he? That didn't stop Milligan having him banging on about it to Shelly a few times before that bloody stupid story that explicitly set that up, though...

    This is actually part of the problem we're talking about, isn't it? Rather than  Constantine just having a taste for raincoats as a fashion choice, it's been retconned into some sort of magical prop that's now part of his superhero origin story. That works a bit better with Green Lantern's bling than it does with John boy's coat, doesn't it?

    I'm pretty sure you're right, and Delano had him switching up coats.  Not to mention that he doesn't even wear his coat as much in that era; he was in a suit jacket quite a lot if I remember correctly.

    Considering the way that the backstory was pushed on it (continuity aside), I do wonder what exactly the intention was.  There's a lot to say about Milligan's Hellblazer, but the main thing is that it really does feel like it was meant to be a superhero book with a guy that wasn't super.  Even the young, daring side female reminds me of something like...Indiana Jones or Bond or hell even Batman.

    Magic became a power rather than a system.  He was quite literally the cool magician with, I guess, masculine appeal (but the cliche kind)?  The way Angie was written, Epiphany, even bringing Kit back for that short segment; it's like it was proving he was "the" manly man with a bunch of women and torn up loves, but hey at least he gets the young one at the end.  Felt more like a power fantasy than a superhero story even.

    The whole Devil's Trenchcoat mess was just another way of saying that Constantine was never normal, or human, or anything like that.  He was something very special.  His coat literally was somehow guiding him into the mystic arts which...

    Actually I don't even know.  I realized I have so much to say on the Milligan era and none of it even adds up to a point.  Which is a pretty fitting review of the era itself.

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  3. 20 hours ago, dogpoet said:

    *(Or even magic. Thanks, Peter.)

    Good points all around, and since you brought it up I may as well ask this: Did I miss something in the Devil's Trenchcoat or does it assume that John's coat is the same one he's always had?

    I was just reading Confession of an Irish Rebel and he makes a point of going to buy a new one.  Plus there's points like in the Carey run where he doesn't seem to pick up his old clothes.

    Am I just misremembering the point of the story or is it just a slight continuity era?

  4. On 2/9/2020 at 10:44 AM, dogpoet said:

    The bastard/prick/etc thing is an oversimplification as a lot of the harm Constantine causes isn't intentional and a lot of the rest he insists was justified for the greater good, even if he isn't completely convinced of that himself.

    Of course, ongoing comics tend to feature extremely simplistic characters (the compassionate term these days seems to be archetypes) who can be summarised in a short high concept description as a rule, so dealing with more ambiguity in characters, or ones whose characterisation has been developed through a lengthy history rather than an origin story so reductive and minimal that it can be retold and revamped from the ground up in a single issue every ten or twenty years isn't ideal for the publisher in this case.

    You make a good point about how an archetype characterization just allows for an all-around easier time re-creating the series of character later on.

    It's a shame though, in terms of Hellblazer.  Constantine has so many different sides to him yet it always seems like the "bastard" aspect becomes the "badass" one.  Even though without all the other pieces, him being a bastard is just...well, him being a bastard.  Not a complicated, conflicted individual.  Just some guy who's a real prick.  Which is not the way his fundamental character seemed to be.

     

    17 hours ago, JasonT said:

    I've long held that 'bastard' is a shallow reading of the character.

    Mind you, there've been many John Constantines, even within the first 300 issues of the original series, none 100% compatible with the others. So there's support for different readings. 

     

    You've got a point on there being different readings.  That's definitely true.  Delano Constantine, and Ennis Constantine are pretty different for example.

    You know what I think became an issue?  People started to write Constantine by just writing more Constantine.  What I mean to say is that Paul Jenkins comes in an starts this arc where John's trying to be something different.  Not only is he going through a change, but he's also just physically older.  Getting up there, life's changing, and he's got to do so too.

    Then it seemed like the general way to write John was to just have him don a trenchcoat, smoke, and meet supernatural crazies.  Past that Jenkins era I don't even feel like Constantine aged anymore, and losing that aspect really made him feel less like a person.

    (As much as I love the Carey era, even there he feels like he could still be 30 and not at all his actual age with the years he's had.  Then Milligan has him old to contrast Epiphany but the age doesn't account for any characterization; he doesn't actually act...old)

    I know it seems odd to nitpick how he's written age wise, but I always thought Hellblazer's depth came from seeing John literally age as the series went on.  He wasn't the same man he was when the series started, and that was the beauty of it.  Then that kind of stop and life experience/perspective was lost.

  5. At the end of Issue 109 (the Wild Hunt plot), in Voices from Beyond there's a letter stating that "In the Line of Fire" was strange because John would never care about some old woman and a ghost in a house.

    Ironically, having just read "In the Line of Fire," I thought the exact opposite: that John going into this old place, feeling something for this lady is very Constantine.

    He's not a superhero, and that leads him to do some bad things, but I always thought its also what led him to do good things; to truly understand people.  He's disconnected from society and through that he gains perspective on situations most would just not give a damn about.  Him deciding to reconcile the feelings of a longing old woman is precisely the kind of man he is because it's something he knows, and no one else sees; that no one else really cares about.

    Maybe I'm just not reading the series right though; could be possible.  I just never felt "bastard" was an actual character trait of Constantine, not really.  It was a self-proclaimed label based on his own self-loathing.  The Delano era for example has him literally being haunted by people from his past that he feels he's screwed over.  Most of the time John doesn't take pleasure in going out of his way to harm people. Or at least not for a bit.  It did seem like during the Ennis era he became a bit more of the full throttle prick.  The irredeemable hard man, bastard, and egotist; the "cool" guy.  Yet, the Jenkins era starts with him trying to actually release himself from all that. 

    Do you think that Constantine is fundamentally just an uncaring prick or do you think that notion that he wouldn't help anyone came from characterization during the previous era?

     

    (Really thinking on it, I almost feel like this is exactly what went wrong.  Everyone started labeling Constantine as one thing rather than a mixing.  He's a "bastard," he's a "magician," he's a "conman," he's the "cool" character.  Everyone seemed to focus on the one note aspects, without having the positives or at least the life perspective aspects balance it out.  It started creating this very one dimensional view of the character which was basically a caricature of the way he was previously written.)

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  6. Ignoring the potential page count this would be...

    Delano: #1 - 2, #7 ("Ghosts in the Machine"), #27 ("Hold Me")

    Ennis: "Dangerous Habits" Part 1 or 5, #45 ("Dangerous Habits" - Epilogue), #50 ("Remarkable Lines"), #68 ("End of the Line"), #76 ("Confessions of an Irish Rebel"), "Rake at the Gates of Hell" Part 4, 5, or 6.

    Jenkins: #97 ("The Nature of the Beast"), #100 ("Sins of the Father"), #104 ("Difficult Beginnings" - Conclusion), #106 and #107 ("In the Line of Fire" - Parts 1 and 2), #120 ("Desperately Seeking Something"), #128 ("How to Play with Fire" - Part 4)

    Ellis: #142 ("Setting Sun"/"One Last Love Song")

    Carey: #175/176 ("High On Life" - Parts 1 and 2), #181 ("The Game of Cat and Mouse"), #200 ("Happy Families"), #202 ("Reasons to Be Cheerful" - Part 1), #213 ("The Gift"), #214/215 ("RSVP - Parts 1 and 2)

    Mina: #216 ("Empathy is the Enemy" - Chapter 1)

    Diggle: #230/#231 ("In the Deep End" - Parts 1 and 2), #245/246 ("Newcastle Calling" - Parts 1 and 2)

    #250 ("Holiday Special")

    Milligan: #259 ("The Cottage")

    Looking at the list after typing it out, it's not really celebrating a whole 30 years, but if we're going for the essentials, for both old readers and new readers coming in, these would be them. 

    To compensate, put some other arcs in the back as a cover art showcase; Issue 225 is still both my favorite piece of Hellblazer art as well as my favorite piece of comic cover art.

  7. 3 hours ago, A. Heathen said:

    You've landed on several issues we were annoyed by at the time.

    With Carey, Gemma had become a rounded Constantine -though vulnerable to trying too hard in the past . Mina had that annoying boyfriend for her but she was still Gemma.

    Milligan put her in the Comics Refrigerator. 

    And his treatment of Angie was puerile.

     

    I like your take on the ending of #300. I may ever write "30 years later in that same pub" on my copy.

     

    Haha, thanks.  Honestly, I just didn't like my other options.  Having it all be a dream/story would have been a cop-out and having it be some magical transport just goes against the essence of the work to me.

    2 hours ago, Ixnay by Night said:

    Milligan's treatment of the women in the cast were my biggest problem with his run.  I didn't have any issue with Epiphany, she had her interesting moments and I liked her as a counterpoint to John, but Milligan seemed unsure of her as a character.  To shore up that she actually was super super I mean really super important guys, he trotted out Kit Ryan, Angie, and Gemma and did nothing but break them down to lift Epiphany up.  John wasn't interested in Kit, who was this boring normal woman, because now he was marrying a smoking hot 22-year old alchemist.  Angie was reduced to a walking fat joke who John wouldn't fuck no matter how hard she wanted or asked, and Gemma, holy christ was that character assassinated.  

    Plot-wise, and even characterization of Constantine-wise, I liked a lot of Milligan's run.  I thought "India" was an interesting exploration of another culture, even if heaped with stereotypes, and some of his one-offs like "The Cottage" and "Suicide Bridge" were excellent.  I didn't mind Finn and I even thought the goofy trenchcoat arc had some charm to it.  That final arc, and especially the final issue, though, was nigh-unreadable.  Instead of doing something to celebrate the conclusion of a 300-issue run of a character, Milligan used it to focus completely on his own creations (Epiphany, Finn, Julian, Terry).  When those characters get more screen time in a final issue of Hellblazer than Chas, something has gone very wrong.  That last issue may very well be my least-favorite issue of the series, even more so than Mina's terrorist issue.  

    "India" actually was pretty good, you're right.  In fact those first few stories may not have been the best, but they weren't bad either. "The Devil's Trenchcoat" made me cringe, but not because of what it was, instead because of what I realized it could have been.  The scenario is actually pretty interesting and could have been a great character piece.  But it was what it was.  "The Cottage" was good, that is true.

    Come to think of it, everything started to fall apart the moment Milligan started to rely on old characters.  When he was doing his own thing, it wasn't half bad.  For some reason he stopped creating new scenarios and as things started to wind down, he just went the Diggle route.  Except at least Diggle seemed to do it out of respect.

    Yeah, Epiphany could have been a solid character if their was an actual focus on her rather than her being better than the other options.  It really makes sense Angie was butchered.  She was Epiphany - the magician who could keep up with John, while also having Kit's ability to see through him and still feel love - done so much better, since Angie at least had her own character.

    The last issue seems more like an end to Milligan's run rather than the series; his swan song, not Constantine's.

    46 minutes ago, GottaGetAGrip said:

    Another thing that bugged me about the Gemma rape is given that John created his Demon self out of his own unwanted bits, does that mean that deep down in John's darkest subconscious that there was already some part of him that sexually desired his niece? I suppose it is possible that it was the Nergal-extracted demon blood part of Demon Constantine acting, but still - what a vomit inducing possibility, Milligan!

    Yes.  After John finds out, Milligan (because I doubt the other writers had this in mind) has him contemplate what the meaning of Demon Constantine wanting Gemma was.

    To remedy this, I just took it as the lust for a younger girl that John had during Milligan's run and not necessarily a long standing lust for Gemma.

  8. On 10/3/2017 at 11:15 AM, Ixnay by Night said:

    Who knows, though, maybe Diggle had more in him than I'm giving him credit for, his run was chopped halway through and according to him had some really heavy editorial pushback.

    That last point is really telling.  I guess what Hellblazer used to be associated with was no longer what was being looked for.  Which really ties into how there really hasn't been anything quite like it in recent years.  Plots have gotten more complex, and entertaining at the expence of seeing a bunch of guys talking about stuff in a pub.

    ------

    I figured I'd wait to comment again until I finished Milligan's run.  

    Firstly, as a whole, the run was a bit up and down.  I didn't like it as much as Diggle's, but stories like "Scab" were better than what Mina had.  Unfortunately, I cant really remember much past "Scab" being particularly interesting.  The rest wasn't necessarily bad they just weren't particularly great either.  As shoehorned in as it was I actually didnt mind the Finn storyline.  That arc was rather solid. Really, like a lot of the later runs, I wouldn't give a Milligan issue to anyone and say, "here read this, maybe you'll get something out of it" instead it's "here, read this, you'll be entertained for a few minutes."

    Epiphany was alright, but the fact that her and John's relationship was built off some long-lasting unrequited love that came from absolutely nowhere made it hard to believe in.  Had Piffy been a child that was seen during the Delano run and made a re-appearence during Milligan's run at least it would have had some basis, but I digress.

    The rest of the cast was hit or miss.  Julien was pretty good though; genuinely creepy at times.

    Alright, now I feel the need to talk about two issues in particular: 275 and 300.

    John's wedding was one of the most dissappointing issues I've read of a beloved series.  Nergal was a complete waste, I'm not sure why he was even there.  When did Hell become so petty that their sole goal was to make sure Constantine was not hurt, but just baseline unhappy?  Why did every new writer have to butcher what made the character of John so easy to relate to, making it so otherworldly forces are the real cause of his unhappiness rather than Constantine being himself?  Past that we have Gemma.  I'll accept that she was broken, I can slightly understand that (despite being fine in the Mina run).  What I don't get is what they chose to do with her.  The girl was raped, and as sad as it is to say it I could care less.  It was thrown out there for shock value with every subsequent scene she was in dealing with her acting in a way wherein everyone says, "Gemma you're being stupid."  All Milligan showed was her mistakes, and not in a way to showcase her as a human, but it almost seemed liked she was presented as a nuisance (which seems to be a trait of Milligan with Angie being reduced to a vessel for fat jokes - unless I'm seriously misinterpreting all this).  Gemma went from a character who showcased another side of Constantine's life and world, to one that was reduced to being the cliche irritating child.  And here I was thinking after the wedding their would be a split perspective showcasing the happiness in John's life and the overwhelming, struggle that Gemma's life is.  But like everything else with this run it boiled down to summoning demons and light-up hands.  Also, is it just me or was inviting all his old loves especially cruel of John? I'm not sure if that was the point, but it seemed more like Milligan just wanted old characters to show up.

    As for Issue 300: Maybe it would have been best to just have the real joke be that Constantine was actually dead...?  What we got was a really strange, wishy-washy idea.  Finn comes back and is destroyed because he met John yet Ghost John tries to sort him out.  So what was the point?  John ruins things or fixes them?  As for the actually ending, it's ambiguous, but I'm choosing to take it that Gemma saying "Uncle" after shooting John is years later when she finds him in a pub which is why he looks so surprised.  In hindsight, I actually wouldn't have been upset with an It's a Wonderful Life situation; had John died and Issue 300 consisted of him and The First going around looking at his life.  There wouldn't even need to be a debate.  Just two characters who can go up against each other reflecting on how they've lived.  As it stands now, I see the end as unfinished.  When something ends, there's supposed to be an understanding; a resolution and relevation.  All this amounted to was the question of "What really happened?"  I didn't take anything away from the end of this 300 issue series.  I closed it, and immediately went to Rake at the Gates of Hell and RSVP to get a proper conclusion.  A conclusion that explores John's character and presents various ideas regarding him, the series, and the reader.

    On a much lighter note, I read "All His Engines" and...wow.  That was exceptionally  done.  Creepy, interesting, character driven and thematic.  The way Hellblazer should be.

    Anyway, I've droned on a bit too long.  Just figured I'd close with a thank you.  Nice to know this forum is still here to discuss things!

  9. 25 minutes ago, Christian said:

    Yes, which shows that it can be hard to predict how well a writer will do writing a John Constantine story. Jason Aaron is a great writer, yet he wrote one of the worst Hellblazer stories.

    Yeah.  In fact, I'd say all of the Hellblazer writers are good at their trade.  It's the series itself that isn't versatile (or rather not without sacrificing what makes it Hellblazer).

    Makes me wonder who would have worked better than writers like Mina or Azz.  

    Neil Gaiman is probably the only person I could think of.  Grant Morrison?

    Like you said though, it's almost impossible to go by prior works of the writer to judge their ability to writer for the series.

  10. 12 hours ago, GottaGetAGrip said:

    The Newcastle two-parter is one of the Hellblazer stories I'm not too fond of for the reasons you mention, probably the worst of the twenty or so issue stretch that made up the Diggle era, though it was actually written by Jason Aaron. Though I did like how Aaron just magically resurrected John's old landlady, last seen dismembered via Nergal in the Delano days! :tongue: (Carey also had a similar Unexplained Dead Character Resurrection though unlike Aaron he promptly returned said character to the dead)

    My favorite issues of Diggle's run were his opening arc (I treat the mobster opener and Ravenscar Casino as one story) plus the "Mortification of the Flesh" two-parter - it was nice seeing John and Ellie working together to scam the Vatican. With Diggle's Hellblazer, it's quite clear that he was a fan of Constantine and his stories were all competent but as you've mentioned the many callbacks and reuses of Hellblazer's past didn't always work towards his run's favor.

    While I didn't mind the changes brought about in the Ravenscar Casino and the Demon Baby arc that much, I wasn't too fond of the big reveal at the end that the Golden Boy had secretly been manipulating John the whole time post-Delano. I found it more powerful/relatable when the downward moments of John's life were the result of his own fuck-ups, rather than his multiverse abortion twin trying to break his spirit. Diggle's run began with swagger but I always felt that it ended on a bit of an abrupt anticlimax.

    I should stop just looking at cover art and actually examine the names.  This isn't the first time I missed a guest writer!

    I'm sure Aaron probably thought to include a rather obscure character as a gesture of fan service without ever actually going back to check whether said character was even alive.  But then, guess twenty years of continuity will cause things like this so I'll give him a pass.

    Who was the character Carey brought back?

    Oh! "Mortification of Flesh" was actually quite good.  Constantine playing all sides is always fun, and it actually had a nice bit of thematic relevance as well.  Definitely my favorite Diggle story.

    I didn't like the Golden Boy reveal either, but I will say that I'm not sure if it was purely Diggle's fault.  It seems more like a product of it's time.  Going through these last few runs, I feel like Hellblazer stopped being what Delano started when thr Jenkins era ended.  The Ellis - Azz - Carey trilogy had some elements, but also took it to completely different places, ending with it being more "normal" with a push for longer arcs.  Then comes the Mina - Diggle - Milligan trio which almost seems to make it mainstream.  Very heavily plot based with much more action and large-scale situations.  While this began in the Carey run, it seemed to be the focus of every major arc in Mina and Milligan's eras; which is why I respect Diggle.  He tried to dial everything down, but still keep it to the style the series was heading towards.

    It's just odd to see a series go from being about a guy who cons his way out of the supernatural, but is always hit hard when it comes to the natural to a man that's shooting lightning bolts and actively performing chants to battle over-sized Indian gods.

    33 minutes ago, Bran the Blessed said:

    Wait did Diggle not write his stories himself ? I'm a bit confused there.

    And I'd assume that he may have just not known she got offed by Nergal. Honestly I wonder if any of these writers had any thorough knowledge of the Delano stories when taking over, seeing it was a bit of a competely different animal by then.

    Aaron was a guest writer for the Newcastle two-parter.

  11. 10 hours ago, Ixnay by Night said:

    I recently did a re-read of Hellblazer starting with Diggle's run, through to the end of Milligan's, and up through the DCU Constantine runs.  I'll be interested in your takes on Diggle and Milligan, because going back years later and reading them kind of changed my opinions on some of those stories (especially Milligan, whose run I hadn't read since it was first running).  I've said before that I think Mina's run is the weakest, mainly due to the absolute failure of how "Red Right Hand" ended, and how the pacing was so off throughout the run as a whole.  Plus, she turned in what was probably the worst issue of Hellblazer proper with that London terrorist/Map story.

    Are you planning on reading through the DCU/New52 stuff as well?  

     

    6 hours ago, dogpoet said:

    Diggle just strikes me as a watered down version of Carey, to be honest. Kudos to him for picking the best run since Delano to try to do, but he can't do it even half as well as Carey did.

    Figured I'd address both of these...

    What gets me the most about Mina's run is that it had all the works to be incredibly satisfying, and poignant.  "Red Right Hand" amounted to absolutely nothing (though, I will say that Issue 225 has my favorite comic cover ever, of all time; why it's attached to that arc is beyond me).  Even with only 13 issues, I feel like there was more that could have come out of those stories.  Which leads me to my major gripe: it's starting to feel like Hellblazer has been sucked dry.  I don't want to say it started with Carey's run because that would diminish the good that came out it, but it definitely began with the more structured, long-running arcs.  In and of itself, I prefer the longer stories, but there seems to be an extreme focus on plot and that overshadowed the actual purpose.  Mina and Diggle's run, generally, (I just finished up "Roots of Coincidence"), have these large-scale events and complex workings that amount to nothing at all.  Just another demon to stop.  The reason Hellblazer was so great for me wasn't necessarily due to the writing, or the characters, or the art, but rather that it had something to say and unlike many (or most) other works it did so in a human, grounded way.  Magic aside, Constantine's life and situations were normal.  It could be felt.  All the magic's (pun intended) seems to have be taken from the series.  I haven't learned anything, nor have I decided to re-evaluate aspects of existence.  There's been a lot of lines that may get me to smile, but nothing that's gotten me to think or feel; not since "RSVP" (and, really, if I must be honest, before that it was "One Last Love Song" all the way back in the Ellis era).  It's all been exciting, but nothing particularly engaging (even arcs that I thought would go somewhere good, like John going back to Ravenscar ended in a plot-driven, ":entertaining way" - with absolutely no substance to it, nor anything to learn or gather...)

    Now, all that said, we get to "Roots of Coincidence" (Part 2).  Like the rest of Diggle's run, the first part was a fun issue; nothing more.  I expected the second part to be the same, but then something miraculous happened: the antagonists were gone within the first few pages.  After that I get to witness John and Chas in a pub, for pages...and with that, the old spark came back just a bit.  It was good to see John as a person again, and it was even better to have an arc end (excluding the revelation he gets while talking) with a moment of humanity.

     

    As for the DCU/New 52 series: I'll definitely check them out.  I love Hellblazer enough that I went to experience all of it.  That said, I want to read the side-arcs (i.e. "All His Engines") first.

    6 hours ago, Christian said:

    ... digging up continuity which was already resolved. It felt very much like HB was being written in the vein of a mainstream superhero title. Diggle's first story-arc was pretty good though.

    Not only was it resolved, but it had a point back when it was originally introduced.  Why Diggle decided to turn what happened at Ravenscar from a twisted situation to one involving magic that amounts to some creepy child-like demon baby being tossed from a bluff is beyond me.  Going back to Newcastle seemed like a good idea, but again it just comes down to dealing with a situation that had no business being brought back up nor did it bring any introspection or revelations; even thematically it was useless.

    Diggle's constant usage of the past is the same problem I had with Mina's callbacks.  It feels like there's no uniqueness left to the title.  The writers are going backwards rather than moving forward like Ennis, Jenkins, and even Azz did; all of which brought a unique style and take with only minor pick-ups from those before them if the arc called for it.

  12. 22 hours ago, GottaGetAGrip said:

    I've said before that Carey's finale is probably my favorite ending to any Hellblazer run, in spite of the occasionally bumpy road leading up to it. "R.S.V.P." has a sense of finality to it, and I feel that in retrospect, if there was a place to satisfactorily end Hellblazer during its original run - this would be it.

    Looking forward to seeing what you make of the final three original Hellblazer runs.

     

    "R.S.V.P." is great for exactly the reason you stated; the finality.  However, it does make continuing a bit jarring as whole.  Starting off Mina's run, I felt like everything was a bit of a side story.  Carey's end even hearkened back to Delano's beginning with John once again seeing the ghosts of his past within reality; it's a chilling full circle.

    As for Mina's run, I'm almost through "Red Right Hand" at the moment.  It's been an interesting ride.  Something is a bit off about it as a whole though.  Nothing is particularly terrible, but it's all just muddled.  Something that's irking me is the constant call-backs that were placed within "Empathy is the Enemy;" Kit, for example, or using almost the exact same image as the end of "R.S.V.P." (with the ghosts around John, although here it isn't of the past).  It doesn't take away anything, but the greatest thing about "Dangerous Habits" or "High on Life" is while they may have been a continuation of a series, they were unique and brought about the start of a distinct era.  "Empathy" seemed almost too tied to Hellblazer's past.  Don't get me wrong, I love when John or the series itself reflects on what's happened, but for the start of a run...it almost seems like fan-fiction rather than a new chapter.  Even the outcome is very reminiscent to the end of the Shadow Dog arc in Carey's run.  I didn't really get a sense of what's to follow nor did I see Mina's unique interpretation.

    The rest of "Empathy" isn't all too bad, and I like the overall literary flow.  It's just that it all seems a bit heartless.  There's really nothing so far that isn't incredibly overt and the stories themselves try and be personal, but rarely feel impactful.  I'm hoping "Red Right Hand" has a satisfying conclusion (one with, at the very least, personal reflection).

     

    14 hours ago, dogpoet said:

    Absolutely. At least part of the problem with Mina's run is down to her having to fudge around the fact that he's still involving himself in occult shennanigans after walking away from the whole thing at the end of RSVP, isn't it?

    Yeah, it's a bit jarring.  He's in it up to his knees, but kind of decides to just not use spells which is just inefficient.  I'm not really sure how taking part in the situation, but not using magic (until doing so in "Red Right Hand" without even stopping to comment on the fact that he wasn't supposed to by his own standards, I might add) equates to his intention at the end of RSVP, but I digress.

    I guess the whole "empathy" thing made him go forward with helping out.

     

    10 hours ago, Ixnay by Night said:

    I have to agree, Carey had the best finale.  While Jenkins had my favorite run in total, I always felt his ending fell flat, if an appropriate and necessary difference from the scorched earth of Ennis' final arc.  I've always had a soft spot for Delano's ending, too, with John essentially just disappearing into a cave and leaving his supporting cast wondering what the fuck just happened.

    The actual ending of "How to Play with Fire" is what really made it.  Definitely some of the best lines in the series.

     

    6 hours ago, Christian said:

    Dog is, unfortunately, wrong about RSVP not being the high-light of Carey's run. I'm not sure what else can top Carey's ending, although his first story on the book was really excellent as well. Not at the same height as RSVP for mine, but also quite good. Nothing else in Carey's run even comes close to that, in my opinion.

    I realized I love John Constantine due to the Jamie Delano and Paul Jenkins' eras.....everything else, I don't really care for (Ellis is ok, but he didn't do that much on the book, and I don't have that much of an opinion on his run one way or another. It was no Delano or Jenkins though, that's for sure).

    I have to agree with you about Carey's run.  I liked it, don't get me wrong, but RSVP was definitely the best part (I'll admit, I shed a tear when John asked Swamp Thing to produce flowers and the subsequent panels showed the grave with almost a full garden).  Nothing else really stood out.

    All things considered, Ennis's John is pretty unlikable as a whole (the whole "I'm too much of a man to cry" attitude was a bit off-putting).  For me, it's more so the situations, his reactions, what he was reacting to, and why he was reacting in such a way that really makes some of those issues the best.  In terms of Constantine, Jenkins and Carey's versions are definitely my favorites.  RSVP had John be at his most human.  Something that I really took away from that arc is that it fully reflects reality; it's not really exaggerated at all.  John doesn't do something extreme like cut himself off and live on the streets.  He still interacts with people, is still part of society, and that's where he twists the knife in; reflecting and wallowing when he's alone, but keeping face while around others (for the most part).

  13. He may not share the necessary characteristics to be considered as such in a literary sense, but I've always found Delano to be very comparable to Lovecraft; less-excessive or overt threats.  Conversely there's Ennis who's a ton more explicit with everything.  I think this carries over into the stories as well.  Delano usually took the Lovecraft approach with the "antagonist" or evil being the primary focus as it usually revealed something about humanity, nature, society, etc., or allowed John to come to a conclusion.  Ennis, on the other hand, and to my memory, never really used what Constantine was facing as a metaphor or a window.  Most of the stories within his era used the situations as a backdrop to the more character focused story.  Where Delano would have an issue commentinh on the legality of literature leading to Winnie the Pooh pulling someone down "funny" stairs (which may not necessarily be horrific, but is, in some ways, unnerving), Ennis has an issue devoted solely to Kit leaving John and the aftermath or one dealing with Kit's side; no supernatural.

    In a way, I feel like the extremes Ennis went to were a reflection of how little he thought the supernatural elements (as well as complex metaphors and symbolism) meant to Hellblazer.  At the end of the day, he threw the most gruesome stuff out there because doing it in any other way would take away from what he wrote in as the central idea.

     

    ---

    Finished up Carey's run yesterday.  I'll admit I had a bit of a flip-floppy opinion of his era.  Originally it was "alright", then I thought he was comparable to Jenkins, before going against that a bit later.  However, from "Down in the Ground" to "The Gift" to "RSVP"... Carey might have had the best ending run, beating out "Rake at the Gates of Hell" for me.  Those last three arcs encapsulated all the great things about Hellblazer.  "Down in the Ground" was a tense supernatural story with actual weight to the outcome (I was getting a bit tired of the fake-out deaths that were happening every few issues), "The Gift" was a crude little side story in all the best ways with a great look at John as a character, and "RSVP" was just a perfect introspection piece rivaling what I loved so much about Ennis's run.  Above all, these last three arcs pulled back on the random magic use.  It actually felt like John was human again and had to deal with the emotional consequences of being a con man rather than a magician.

    Overall the run is mid-tier, but those three are definitely among my favorites.

    • Like 1
  14. 6 hours ago, Christian said:

    Unfortunately, deciding to write a story where the conclusion seems to say, "Hey, these kids are asking for it!" is probably not the way to go about addressing a serious issue, even though, as I said, Ellis did make some good points in the story. There's also a question as to whether such a heavy work of social criticism, at the expense of the character of the series, actually belongs in the Hellblazer comic book.

    Look at how well Delano usually managed to blend characterization and a sense of the series moving forward with politically aware commentary, compared to something like "Shoot". It was the equivalent of Delano's heavy-handed "Don't Eat Meat!" two-parter, which was the low point of Delano's run.

    Anyway, you could go back to see how DC censored Rick Veitch's Swamp Thing story as a more egregious example, pre-dating "Shoot"

    EDIT: I'm not favouring censorship in any way, in case that comes out as the point of what I wrote above about "Shoot". I believe that the story should have been published originally. I'm just saying that "Shoot" really isn't an important story, and I can understand why DC (a corporation) did what it did, even though I completely disagree with the decision.

    Would have probably worked better overall as some sort of special/PSA (even though the content of "Shoot" isn't that great for it, the base idea and the limitation of Hellblazer-esque aspect makes the concept work better as a non-regular issue).

    Would you mind elaborating on the Swamp Thing censorship?

    4 hours ago, Balthazar said:

    I actually jumped in during the Mike Carey run. It was 201, I believe. It was after the Constantine movie was announced and I came in wanting to find out about the Balthazar character. :laugh: Come to find out that was just a creation of the film but I was still curious to find out about the book. I was hooked on Carey's run, how fast pace it was but the characters themselves hooked me. I jumped on "Haunted" by Ellis and took me awhile to get accustomed to it because of how different it was from how Carey was writing the book. I then read the issues that focused on Ellie and her baby by Ennis and I was definitely in for the long haul. I started buy as many of the back trades I could find. Thus far, nothing has matched my enjoyment of the first 9 issues of Jamie Delano's run, including the art, the whole package.

    I lost interest during the Mina run and would pick up an issue or so on the following writers. I was in for a lot of Milligan's run and actually quite enjoyed it but funds got in the way. 

    I think I read on issue of Azz's run and that was enough for me.

    I had a similar situation.  I heard about Hellblazer a while ago, but didn't think to read it until the show came out.  Then it kind of fell to the wayside as I thought it followed the supernatural formula, but was surprised to find it to be incredibly unique.

     

    What made you enjoy the first 9 issues most?

  15. 12 hours ago, Ixnay by Night said:

    Ellis was such a missed opportunity.  I thought "Haunted" went on way too long with too much early-2000s padding for the trade, but stuff like "The Crib" and "Telling Tales" were quite good.  I wouldn't put him up with Jenkins, though, that cat was my favorite writer on the series.  Still, I'd love a glimpse at the alternate reality where "Shoot" was published as intended and Ellis had his 40-issue run on the book.

    Most six-part stories feel like a bit much for me (which is odd as I much prefer longer arcs...just not in comics)  Rake at the Gates of Hell is probably the only time it seemed to have all been paced well.

    Haunted just had a really great conclusion.  The worst part of Ellis's run was the way it was forced to end.  Sad that Ashes and Honey is the last Ellis arc.  Not that it was bad, just that it wasn't well...an ending.

    10 hours ago, dogpoet said:

    (I'd also question that he didn't still get plenty of character points into the stories: there's several stories where he digs pretty deep into Constantine, Gemma, Chas and Angie in particular and even the disposable villains get some backstory and something resembling an inner life. Hell, he even treats the FOTF as a character rather than a convenient plot device, doesn't he?)

    And hello, Jason. It's always nice to see new posters in here.

    Hey!

    Carey has a lot of great actually characterization in the situations he has.  The only thing missing is the more individual, character driven issues, which were replaced with denser plots.

    8 hours ago, seventhcircle said:

    He must've felt like a fucking prophet and then dc takes that away from him for reasons of decency. the guy must've been fucking pissed.

    Was there any particular reason he even wrote "Shoot"?  I'd be really interested in hearing that.

    8 hours ago, Christian said:

    The story actually wasn't very good though. It may have made a few good points, but the fact that the story ends with a student telling the gunman to shoot him was probably something that DC rightly worried about following the mass-school shooting.

    The problem with the story is that it really wasn't a John Constantine story. He was just there as window-dressing.

    It's not as if the story was a lost classic.

    I'm sure keeping Ellis around would have been better than Azzarello, as I did enjoy most of what we saw of Ellis, unlike my feelings for Azzarello. Although, maybe Ellis would have gotten bored in the middle of his next story-arc and moved on to other projects, and we'd be here bitching about how Ellis did that again, this time on our favourite comic book creator.

    Also, welcome to new Forum member. It's nice to see that some people are still discovering John Constantine.

    Hello!  Yeah, I just got someone else into it too.  Need to spread it around a bit.

    Even without the inherent  controversy, that ending would have still caused an uproar most likely.

  16. 14 hours ago, Ixnay by Night said:

     

    Azzarello's run, to me anyway, was a real mixed bag. "Good Intentions" and "Ashes and Dust" are abominable outside of the Frusin artwork, probably two of my least favorite Hellblazer stories. But, then, Azz also has the really fucking excellent "Freezes Over" and "Lapdogs and Englishmen" in the middle of his run (even "Highwater" was pretty good, I thought).

     

     

    I quite liked Carey's run on the book, but he was much more concerned with plots than with characterization. Everything had to tie back into his two mega-arcs (Shadow Dog and Rosacarnis) with very little room for side stuff. Compared to Delano, Ennis, or Jenkins, who all had the space to meander out into other areas of interest, Carey was all about Point A to Point B to Point C.

    When I'm done with Carey I'll go back and read the arcs you mentioned.  I'm curious to see Azz at his best.

    I just started the second arc.  It's an interesting way of writing it, and I'm happy Carey tried something different.  Though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't upset that the more personal arcs were absent.

    13 hours ago, seventhcircle said:

     

    freezes over was excellent, the rest wasn't my thing.

     

     

    i think thats a really good analysis, of why it felt different and why some people might not warm up with it. the shadow dog felt too big a monstrosity for hellblazer, how it was built up and all, which gave it an uncharacteristic taste. that being said i don't dislike careys run, it just wasn't one of the high-points of the series.

    It's a good middle-ground, almost feels a like a well-done reboot in some ways.  Not the best, but just a cool experimental take on the series.  

    As for the subject of the arcs, I felt similar.  The Shadow Dog had a bit much going on; like an extended crossover event.

    3 hours ago, A. Heathen said:

    Top insights, Jason, you'll have to aim lower to live up to your namesake though.

     

    Have you noticed the links section?

    http://hellblazer.ipbhost.com/index.php?/forum/14-the-book-of-hellblazer/

    Hehe, I try (or I guess I wont).

    No, I haven't.  Thanks!

     

    ---

    Oddly enough I realized I never commented on Ellis's run and that shouldn't speak of it's quality.  It just slipped my mind for some reason.  I'm not really sure where to place it.  "Haunted," "The Crib," and "One Last Love Song" were exceptional.  In fact his writing overall was just...great. He understood Constantine.  He understood good drama.  It's a shame he had such a short time on the series.  He's definitely better than Carey.  On par with Jenkins I'd say.

  17.  

    This, IMO. Dangerous Habits always felt like the definitive Constantine story to me. Kind of has it all.

     

    A massive re-read of the good stuff is in order, to remind me why I loved this character to begin with. Then I am chucking the floppies in favor of the trades. Simply no room at the inn.

     

    [edit] oh, and welcome.

     

    It manages to capture the good and the sad aspects of the character quite well.

     

    Thanks! I hear you, 300 issues is a bit much to keep around.

     

     

    Great user name. :biggrin:

     

    Thanks, old son.

     

     

     

    To echo the rest: welcome aboard. As for post-Carey being "anything too bad", I think I have a differing opinion than most around here, that the series never dipped into "awful" territory until the very end. Immediately post-Carey, the run by Denise Mina, is the lowest point of the series IMO. Even with a lot of his ill-conceived ideas concerning women and trauma (and a rather brutal and infuriating character assassination), I quite liked Milligan's run. It just wasn't how I wanted the series to end. STILL! Diggle is perfectly decent and you have the rather excellent issue # 250 to look forward to!

     

    Care to tell me what you thought of Azzarello's run?

     

    That's a shame. I was actually excited for Mina's set of issues; curious how a novelist wrote the series.

     

    This issue #250 is intriguing already.

     

     

    i agree with you so far, as to say that it's really mostly only sub-par compared to the rest of the series. there is a lot of worse shit out there than anything in hellblazer. a big problem is propably that the writers mostly were the cream of the crop and some of them especially azz and milligan, performed a lot worse than they did elsewhere, whereas others (including guestwriters) produced straight up art in some issues.

     

     

    Hellblazer is one of those series where the worst is still considerably better than other things out there.

     

    You're spot on about the guest writers. Some of those issues were really great.

     

     

    As the others have said, welcome to Hellblazer!

     

    As you make your way through the 300 original issues or after you finish them, I'd recommend reading some of the standalone mini-series and graphic novels that were put out along the course of Hellblazer's lifespan. Some of these - The Horrorist, All His Engines, Pandemonium, City of Demons, are just as great or worth checking out as what was put out in the main series. For my money, probably would make for a better follow-up read than the New 52 and Rebirth Constantine books!

     

    Thanks for the suggestions. I actually just found out about Winter's Edge too, so I'm tucking those away for a few weeks (I'm interested to see what a Constantine Christmas is like).

     

     

    and neil gaiman's books of magic.

     

    Thanks!

     

     

    -----

     

    On a side note, I just got through "Staring at the Wall" and moved onto the amnesia arc. The former was pretty good overall. I find Carey's run to be more exciting, tying in characters like Swamp Thing; the world itself seems a bit large with cameos from Lucifer as well.

    That said, I'm still a bit...I don't want to say upset, but maybe confused at the more man-of-action Constantine. Carey does really well with the characterization, but it no longer feels as though he's a regular guy. He's spouting spells, and hooking up with other magicians. The most Constantine thing he did was the meditation while letting his hand boil. The more magic-focus doesn't take away from the stories too much, but I guess I just wouldn't be surprised if fire-balls start coming from his hands.

    Additionally, and this might be a product of not yet finishing the run, but I can't quite put my finger on Carey's central focus (comparable to Delano's counter-culture or Ennis's "end of the line" writing of Constantine's life). It seems to be more broad, dealing with the working of the world as a whole and the order of events that come from things, but I could be wrong...?

  18. - what are you guys talking about? the quintessential stories are obviously either ashes and dust, the devils talking trenchcoat, or that atrocity with the bulldog - (where are my sarcasm tags?)

     

    hi welcome to the board!

     

    delano uses the supernatural as metaphor and john and plot as a device - the message is the star. ennis has generally a very existencialist approach, the journey of the character in a story is the whole point ennis is making - the character is the star.

     

    you will just fit right in, lol

     

    Lucky me, I skipped Ashes and Dust.

    Thanks!

     

     

    You summed that up much better than I did. I need to go through Delano's run again, I feel like I missed a lot from it as a whole, in terms of the messages.

    I wonder if Jenkins was trying to be a middle ground between Delano and Ennis. Jenkins's stories never really dealt too much with the smaller aspects of Constantine's life, but everything ultimately tied back to his direct actions. He seemed to keep him at the center, but at the same time deal with other ideas.

     

    While it's always good to fit in, if only it were under better circumstances...

  19.  

    You've found the right place, if not the right time. :wink2: Ah, the glory days of 5-10 years ago...

     

    Welcome aboard.

     

    Thanks!

     

    I wish I could have been here when the series was in its prime.

     

    I've been skimming through old threads to try and get a taste of that.

     

    Great profile picture, by the way.

    • Upvote 1
  20.  

    Welcome, I think that's a great summation of Garth's writing at its best and the reason why 'Dangerous Habits' will always be my first recommendation to anyone thinking about reading some Hellblazer comics.

     

    Dangerous Habits is definitely the quintessential Hellblazer story. It has just enough crudeness, humanity, and emotion all while dealing with a supernatural threat (plus the epilogue led me to my favorite song).

     

    I'm curious: how do people who haven't read previous issues react to it?

  21. You've got through a lot of the good stuff.

     

    Oh no. I hope that doesn't mean I'm getting into anything too bad.

     

    As an aside, I've read through a bit more of Carey's and I noticed that it's very reminiscent of the show. There's a lot of random magic use, and John seems a bit more reluctantly enthusiastic. Even the narrative of a growing supernatural issue with otherworldly beings looking for John's help echoes the "rising darkness" arc of the show.

     

    I guess overall, it makes sense. Right now Carey's run seems like the most accessible for a wider audience while still maintaining what Hellblazer is.

  22. Hello, everyone.

     

    Currently, I’m on Carey’s run and I’ve been itching to discuss this series (seeing as no one around has any idea what I’m talking about).

     

    As it stands, Hellblazer is now my favorite comic series (sorry Cerebus) and I’m incredibly glad to have found it. There’s really just something about this series that’s hard to describe. It’s just so...normal; very real and very eye-opening.

     

    In terms of the individual writers (excluding Moore) so far my list, from best to worst, is as follows:

     

    Ennis – While not every plot in Ennis’s run was the most riveting, he was the one that really made me see Constantine as a person rather than a character (my favorite issue of the series is [currently] #67 - “End of the Line” - wherein Kit leaves John causing him to go out on his own. To see him be defeated not by a supernatural force, but just by being John Constantine made it all the more meaningful). As a whole this is something that shined during Ennis’s run. I feel like while the series was all about John’s life, this selection of issues was about John Constantine the individual if that makes any sense. Taking away all the supernatural, magic, and hell from this run with make no difference. It seems like other writers dealt more with the situations, that’s not to say they weren’t character-driven of course or that John doesn’t feel like a person, but more so that this one always kept a level of humanity (there’s a whole issue devoted to Kit after all) that seems to be lacking elsewhere. Something to note, however, is that a lot of the non-supernatural situations Ennis gave John are similar to that which I've been in (the John-Kit dynamic especially) which is definitely one of the reasons this resonated with me.

     

    Jenkins – A solid run overall, not necessarily anything spectacular, but that was more because nothing in it was awful as well. “How to Play with Fire” had a very well executed anything (even if the story itself was a bit messy), that sums up John’s life perfectly. As a whole, Constantine was characterized incredibly well, but none of the other main cast really provided much. They weren’t bad by any means, but they weren’t spectacular either. Still, a tear does come to the eye thinking about Astra’s soul being released.

     

    Delano – This is definitely the most consistent length of issues in terms of quality. There really aren’t any dips. Despite this, however, I didn’t find myself saying I loved Hellblazer until after Delano’s tenure. His plot was very dense and very well done. The slow build up with vague references to Newcastle was great, but when it comes down to it...none of it really mattered for me. I didn’t really feel an impact at all from this run and it just felt like a collection of supernatural/gothic horror stories with a cool protagonist. Arcs like the “Family Man” were great, but mainly for the narrative and not for lasting impressions. Unfortunately, the issues with guest writers are the ones I like the most here. “Hold Me” and “How I Learned to Love the Bomb” were superb and brought a nice bit of contemplation to them. That’s not to say Delano didn’t service anything to think about, but most of it seemed very political/social in nature, rather than personal with political/social connections.

     

    Azzarello – I don’t particularly like condemning writers, but this set of issues was a pain to get through. I’m sure Brian can write, but certainly not for Hellblazer. That’s really all there is to say about it. The first few words of the first issue alone had me already think that something was “off”. Ultimately, I’m sad to say, I couldn’t finish this run properly and ended up giving in and skipping over to when Mike Carey started.

     

     

    So far I’m enjoying Carey’s run (just finished Red Sepulchre); the longer arc is an appealing idea. I had previously read Unwritten which I, admittedly, stopped reading, but I’m pleasantly surprised to find that his Hellblazer ideas and writing for Constantine is rather solid. Hopefully that doesn’t change.

     

    Above all else, I'm glad to have a place to discuss this series.

    • Upvote 2
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