Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hellblazer by Jamie Delano issue #18

"I've become the proverbial mad, bad and dangerous to know."

Now we are finally heading somewhere that's cohesive and substantial! Hellblazer has been such a chore to read for me lately, and I have to admit that since The Fear Machine storyline started, I was half-asleep reading through issues 14-16 only because I wasn't that interested with its premise. But that's about to change now, thankfully.

To recap: After defeating the demon who bested him in Newcastle, John Constantine went under the radar to ensure that he doesn't get falsely arrested for the murders of his former landlady and another friend. In doing so, he took shelter in a hippie community led by Eddy (who I think is some sort of modern shaman?) and met the mother and daughter Marj and Mercury who seemed to play the role of a surrogate family of his for the time being. I can't help but insist on that interpretation, given the weight of impact that issue #13 (the dream-sequence story I loved so much) had on me. 

In that dream, John's subconscious reveals that he longs for a quiet, stable life with a family but also readily negates that possibility because of the consequences that might happen that could stem from living a dangerous life which he chose when he embraced mysticism and the occult. 

This is why I feel that his relationships with Marj and Mercury are echoes of that desire, and when Merc was abducted by some scientists who appear to be building a machine with the use of psychics to fuel it (hence the 'Fear' machine, get it?), John forces himself out of his funk to rescue her and bring her back home safely to Marj. It does feel like John identifies with these women as an extension of a family he wish he could have, and that means that finding Mercury has now become a personal mission for him as well. I'm just happy to see John doing stuff again even if that means placing himself in screwed-up situations yet again (see last issue, #17). I stated before that I enjoy Mercury's character and her interactions with John and I maintain that she's still beguiling to read about, especially in this issue where we get to see her showcase the extent and effectiveness of her psychic abilities. Meanwhile, John continues to investigate and uncovers more vital clues that have now placed him in the right direction to find Merc. While in pursuit of a person of interest, he stumbles inside that person's lodgings and discovers an appalling sight (and the issue ends with a cliffhanger). Typical night for our John Constantine, I say.

In addition to that, I believe this issue is quite literal in scope too, if I may add. Entitled Hate Mail and Love Letters, the story started with mail correspondences with an unknown character (whose significance will be later revealed) and the letters exchanged between John and Marj. I still don't like Marj, okay? Can we just get that out of the way? She's so insufferably dull. Moving on. In line with that theme, we also get scenes of Mercury writing her experiences with the Fear Machine in a diary. I'm glad for that expository courtesy by Delano because, through Mercury's writings, I was able to understand better and get a clearer picture of what these scientists are up to and it's morally repugnant. After all, if you can fuse psychic power with scientific research and create some machine to infiltrate people's minds and cure them of their mental 'terrors' then why the fuck not? I'm highly suspicious at this point because this is Hellblazer and people are assholes and life on earth is hell so there is more to the Fear Machine than a simple altruistic invention. I almost don't want to know.

On a positive note, my ratings are improving again.
RECOMMENDED: 8/10

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