Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hellblazer by Jamie Delano issue #15

What a schizophrenic issue this has been for John Constantine and the readers themselves. As the continuation of The Fear Machine storyline, Shepherd's Warning is decidedly blunt with its core narrative and yet weirdly evasive at the same time especially when it comes to the real significance of the story I'm currently following at this point. I gotta be honest: I don't care enough to know what's going to happen next, and my only connection to Hellblazer right now is our ruggedly handsome and inconsistently aggravating titular hero, and even that remaining source of interest is becoming muddled with confusion and annoyance at best.

I'm not really sure how I would even review Hellblazer now when the story it's currently hinged on is nothing that excites or intrigues me but I do try everything to keep myself invested in what I'm reading which has proven sadly strenuous. I truly hate it when reading feels obligatory and books that make me feel this way are often the ones I never bother to pick up anymore. Hellblazer continues to cruise that fine line but I'm not giving it up, of course, seeing as I've made a commitment and  I do believe that some promising events are starting to take shape in this issue that could unfold in the next ones.

I would like to discuss the details of that but I fear that even I can't comprehend yet what I just saw, especially when John Constantine himself acts as an unreliable narrator (which is something we can't blame him for, seeing as he was drugged and was therefore hallucinating). What's more fun than reading the delusion sequence of a drug-addled passively cynical occultist-on-the-run? As it turns out, everything else because this is such a painful state of mind to find John Constantine in, a man who is an inherently resourceful survivalist who basically lives his life as a constant middle finger aimed at the powers-that-be, but ironically keeps finding himself around (hell, maybe even unknowingly seeks out) people and situations that test the limits of his self-preservation instincts.

Story of John Constantine's life, I guess.

As much as I claimed not to like the direction of the series at this point, I could still find worthwhile gems along the way, such as John's surprisingly great chemistry with the child-woman Mercury who seems to me feels like a surrogate daughter he wish he had. Mercury makes a comment about the fact that John, in the heat of the moment, calls her his "little girl" which is something quite endearing and a little sad (when we remember his dream from issue #14 about his mutant two-headed seal offspring). In addition to that, John finally shags the mother, Marj, in this issue. It's a relationship that never appealed to me (even in the later parts for Dangerous Habits). I actually would prefer to read more about John and Merc's interactions. I just feel like they had a more complex interplay, and I certainly feel that John should be hanging around someone of the opposite sex who isn't a possible shag-buddy. And Merc is exactly that and she provides him with a center (based from what I've read about so far). She also shows him a more humane sort of compassion towards John than her mother does, and I say this because I think Marj is sexually attracted to John from the get-go and desires no more than just a physical closeness. It feels really empty when the intimacy can only be sexual and I feel that John always required more. Meanwhile, I feel as if John and Merc connected as easily as they had because they have a lot in common; both are sensitive souls trying to make sense of the chaos in their lives. That's why I enjoy reading them together because Merc could easily be a reflection of who he is trying to suppress using some sort of falsehood of machismo; a younger, less sardonic female counterpart who can understand the self-inflicted damage he had been casually prone to, and perhaps even learn to deal with through Merc's aid.

That's not to say John hasn't been trying. There are a few instances he tries to be personable, tries to engage and interact earnestly with the other members of the community. And it's rather heartbreaking because we come to know John as someone who purposefully hardened himself; who wore his sense of anarchy and arrogance on the outside to drive away anyone that will try to harm him and, in consequence, even the ones who might even love him. 

Well, okay, that's enough of my indulgent Constantine psychoanalysis for now. I'll save that up for the next issues and hopefully they'll be more thrilling to read.

RECOMMENDED: 7/10

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