Friday, August 22, 2014

Hellblazer by Jamie Delano issue #14

This issue opens with John Constantine once again having vivid and symbolic nightmares. We covered this already and I'm frankly more interested in the stuff happening in his head than what is around him. However, Touching the Earth strategically places our titular hero in direct interactions with people (and for once no one gets killed or dies horribly--yet). It's truly queer to watch unfold, honestly, considering the social awkwardness on John's part is so palpable it's slightly humorous. Actually, reading this issue has made me either smile of chuckle to myself because I've enjoyed seeing John in a lighter shade where he's not harming his friends, getting chased down by demons and ghosts or brooding about his failures and regrets. That's all fun, sure, but it's just so refreshing to see John acting like a normal human being for once even if he's anything but stable and well-adjusted.

I was also quite pleased to see Marj and Mercury here (I encountered them in Dangerous Habits volume) and to also understand the difference between John's treatment of either of them. Mercury is a young girl though I agree with John that it's simply hard to tell if she's only a child of ten or twelve years or already a teenager. She was the one who finds John while he tries to escape the cops (apparently, he's now a fugitive because of what happened in his old flat where his landlady and a friend were brutally murdered which was, once again, something John is indirectly responsible of). Merc was clearly fascinated with him and brings him to her community. Said community is composed of runaways, activists and your usual pariahs led by a man named Eddy whose real identity seems to be shrouded in complete mystery. Meanwhile, John has no problem cozying up with these people. He does, after all, need to stay low-key until the murder charges against blow over. So far I think it's great to see John in such a unremarkable scenario and with strangers who are easily just as aimless and laid-back as he currently is. Sometimes, though, I forget that this comic is written in the eighties therefore a few commentaries about UK politics and atmosphere would slip in every now and then. This issue gave us conversations explaining the living conditions of these people and why they are a traveling community in the first place. Now I don't really care much for this but it is still rather nice for Delano to contextualize the times that Constantine is a part of, and how such factors can become significant, depending whether or not the writer himself would consider it relevant (just like in Go For It issue #4 which was one of my favorite satires in Hellblazer so far).

Still, my feelings for this issue are rather lukewarm. There is no excitement here or any grand turning point for the story. It's just John acting like a normal bloke, hanging out with some people just to get away from the usual drama and chaos of his life. So this is like some sort of a self-imposed sabbatical and I like that he's doing this especially because I enjoy his interactions with Mercury (and Marj, to a lesser extent, even though I feel like he has a much richer interplay with Merc).


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