Monday, August 25, 2014

Hellblazer by Jamie Delano issue #16

"Now I know where I stand. I've taken sides, made a commitment. I'm going back to war--but this time I know what I'm fighting for."

Oh, John. Sometimes you say, do and feel things that greatly upset me; but only because I can see myself saying, doing and feeling the same things. That's what makes it almost impossible for me to keep reading Hellblazer so farIt's rather interesting, however, that I feel more connected to John now than I ever was before when I started reading. I feel like seeing John interact with other people in the last three two issues; how he tries to fit in and accept the eccentric way of life of the community he's been a part for weeks now, has helped soften the harshness of the earlier strokes he's been painted with.

Little by little (and oh-so-subtly), John is learning to grow from his mistakes since Newcastle. He's also starting to show how much he cares about people's feelings instead of tuning them out in fear of exposing his own vulnerability. If we follow that progressing characterization, then The Fear Machine storyline will be an enjoyable experience. I think the narrative itself merely serves to further John's character more than anything, particularly when it comes to his relationships with the mother and daughter Marj and Mercury.

This issue is the third instalment of said storyline, and finally there's an actual plot to follow and look forward to. The latter one is still something I can't confidently say is happening for me right now but then again I'm getting the sense that Mercury will be a central figure for the next issues and that is an encouraging thought because I really like her. I think she's just so engaging and mesmerizing every time she's in the pages so my sympathy for her continues to deepen. Her interactions with John are just endearing because the surrogate father-daughter dynamic is very much alive between them, most especially now that John has shagged the mother. As for Marj, I don't think I care much about her and every time she has a conversation with John, I would either roll my eyes in annoyance or sigh deeply out of dread (or boredom). There's not a degree of excitement in their sexual congress either. With Zed, I felt a spark at least. With Marj, I feel like John wants comfort sex and Marj is giving him pity sex so it all evens out, apparently.

I did like that panel at the beginning where Marj and John were sleeping after their shag and Mercury was on the top bunk (THE ENTIRE TIME of shagging as we found out last issue) and then she creeps down and tries to get in bed with the two of them, particularly next to John. There was a timely interruption courtesy of the plot, so we never got to see John's reaction in case he wakes up and realizes that Merc has made herself comfortable beside him under the sheets next to her mother. That would have been hilarious, I bet. I know for a fact John would ask her gently to get out of bed (or at least to move to her mother's side if she gets insistent on lying in bed with them). But just imagining the conversation itself is already making me giggle. As for Merc's decision to do that: she struck me as lonely and in need of affection, and seeing her mother and this man she is quite fond of sleeping in a bed, looking very warm and inviting--why wouldn't she try to be a part of that? There's no malice in her part when she tried to get under the sheets with John (though yeah, he's naked). For Merc, she has a right to John because she found him first but such a justification lacked any kind of sexual overtone. It's a child's logic which is all the more poignant for me to read.

The quote I used at the beginning of this review was optimistic. The sabbatical has come to an end and harsher realities have to be dealt with, now that another girl's life is at stake. John looks primed and ready for another round of battle He exudes calm, determination and confidence, something I haven't seen him in a while. I'm excited! I can't wait to see what he plans to do next. Also, more of Mercury, please. She's such a delight to read, and I definitely want more of her and John together.

RECOMMENDED: 7/10

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