Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hellblazer by Jamie Delano issue #19

"These days we all need a hand to hold--in the dead of night when the rain dashes itself in blind waves against the windows. When fear seeps, pooling in every vague depression--diluting and dissolving us, diminishing us--suspending us drifting in a submarine world. When you're drowning, any hand will do."

I was pretty outspoken in my reviews about how the first three issues of the Fear Machine storyline made me disinterested in general (in retrospect, I now realize those were set-ups for the main stage), and it was only until the fifth issue that I felt like the story finally found its voice. The slow-burn quality of this storyline has finally paid off, however, with the sixth and seventh installments. This issue entitled The Broken Man picks up the pacing yet again and it thankfully continues to improve with the next one after this as well. 

The first thing I want to discuss is Mercury, a character I've had a penchant for since the beginning. She had been abducted by some scientists because she has psychic abilities and they use those powers within this invention they call the Fear Machine. Finally, we understand better how Mercury actually performs her tasks within its mainframe, and what they are specifically. From what I can understand, Merc is rooting out people's night terrors. They have a roster of patients in the facility that they would allow Merc to help and she would get inside their heads and extract their nightmares. This is not an absolute cure, however, because Merc explains that these terrors come back every now and then and she has to repeat the process for as many times as it takes. And she does it voluntarily, acknowledging that for once in her life she is finally doing good deeds with her gifts. It makes her all the more interesting too, especially the depth of compassion she has for the people who are plagued by such horrible things in their sleep. She may be afraid herself because she has no idea what the motives of the scientists were and how it will affect her, but she is bravely making the most of her circumstances, and doing something worthwhile for other people. For this, I just absolutely adore her. Still, she knows that she can't stay there forever so she started to plot her escape, employing the help of Dr. Philip Futon (who seems to be quite infatuated with her) most especially after she uncovers a deadly code shared among her captors that she may have no power over, even if she is a talented psychic.

On the flip side of that coin, her mother Marj is still getting on my nerves, most probably because a series of interesting things might be happening to her but she remains remotely uninteresting. For this issue, we see her canoodling with a certain character from the earlier issue who was supposedly dead. Can I just spoil it because it's been hovering since issue #16---it's no other than John's ill-fated former shag buddy Zed (otherwise known as Mary). She's some sort of a witch doctor now, and she and Marj are apparently getting sapphic. But I really couldn't give a shit.

Now moving on to John Constantine himself. He's been so focused since he got back from his sabbatical. Clean-shaven and sporting a dark leather coat, John looks the part of  man who means business, and he has been on the right track since. He also seemed to be gathering like-minded men who are following the same cause as he iw. For this issue, he got to talk with journalist Simon Hughes who could have died if John didn't got him out of that closet where he was tied up and near asphyxiation. It's a really horrid way of to kill someone (Simon is later revealed as a gay man which is why stuffing him in the closet has that level of hate crime to it that is hard to miss). Another precious gem for this issue is Neil Gaiman's Morpheus from The Sandman who makes a cameo appearance (I did mention that I first encountered John in Preludes and Nocturnes where he accompanied Morpheus in retrieving his sand pouch from a junkie ex-girlfriend). Those three panels made me really giddy. Right after that charming side mission, John goes back to his original goal at hand which is to find Merc and take care of the people who took her. With Simon tagging along, John meets up with police officer Geoff Talbot (from issue #18) whom they convince to join their crusade. While on the subway, this bum, who had been following John since the first page of the issue, walks up to him, reciting gibberish about being a broken man. And then he shoves a piece of paper into John's mouth and jumps off the train. He shouted "Jallakuntilliokan!" Good times.

Recovering from the shock of that sudden (and comical) physical assault, John takes out the paper and opens it up. Simon looks at it and trembles. He recognized the symbol and it was the design on the ring of the very man who strangled and stuffed him in the closet. The issue ends with that ominous revelation and I love it!

I'm getting pretty excited with the turn of events by now. The villains are now on focus and John is becoming insanely hotter and more irresistible when he shows this level of focus and dedication on the mission at hand. 

What more could I ask from Hellblazer?

RECOMMENDED: 8/10

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