Monday, August 4, 2014

Hellblazer by Jamie Delano issue #3

I was surprised that this issue managed to make me chuckle several times as I read it. It was also a breath of fresh air from the grimness and moral ambiguity of the first two issues. Both John Constantine's inner monologues and the dialogues among characters are sparkling with wit and snark. Everything felt lighthearted on the surface because of the black humor injected in the pages, but it starts to become disturbing once you started to think more about what you just read. And you should, trust me.

So far, I'm enjoying Jamie Delano as the writer for the series, mostly because I never know what to expect or to get from his Hellblazer stories. He also writes with great subtlety, never resorting to heavy-handed prose. I'm also tickled in a special way with his descriptions of the most mundane events in the pages. He also marked John Constantine's sense of humor with a dark tinge to it which I just ate up while reading his inner monologues.

The issue started entertainingly enough. We finally get introduced to demons who function as 'soul-brokers'. There's a network of them operating in London, handling contracts with mortals who sell their souls for wealth, fame and your garden-variety hedonism and/or narcissism. Anyone who's a Supernatural fan would recognize this formula (but given the 1988 publication date, Hellblazer came up with this beguiling concept first. It's safe to say that Eric Kripke, SPN creator, has read these comics as well and were inspired by them). 

John Constantine tracks down a couple of said demons and managed to infiltrate their club by sheer luck and accident. He barely got out of there alive since he was ill-prepared. But our hero casually brushes that reckless self-endangerment and proceeds to contact the head supervisor of the demonic lot. Things got even weirder and more hilarious later on. Constantine makes the simplest of mistakes that he's also able to remedy along the way which highlights how quick he is on his feet. He still possesses that laid-back begrudging attitude even when confronted with literally hellish situations; as if getting almost savaged and eaten by demons is more of an inconvenience he needs to deal with it as oppose to a real threat. The writing's sardonic and comical approach is to be commended. I enjoy sinister stories that have some humor into them. It makes the reading experience well-balanced. For that alone, this issue gets another 8 out 10 rating for me like the last two. I know that my rating has been consistently high so far but that's because the issues deserve it.

I don't want to spoil the story further by going into any more details but I can guarantee that the third issue entitled Go For It is pure, wicked fun. It has satirical commentary thrown in the mix and a definitely more relatable and down-to-earth version of Constantine yet that manages to find himself in the most absurd situations and yet responds to them like a champ. I truly believe it was important for Delano to contrast this issue from the last one (which was quite sad and depressing and has certainly made Constantine kind of a prick). It's great that Delano has already established dimensions to his titular this early in the game and doesn't make him come off too likable. This allows readers to get to know Constantine for themselves through the delightful conversations he has with himself and other people. Readers also understand his personality better because his actions truly do speak louder than his words could--and the result isn't always pleasant. I hate getting ahead of myself but Constantine can be such a polarizing figure in these stories that Hellblazer could have suffered with a dwindling number from the readership. However, the tonality of the stories we find him in was able to make him endearing in such a jaded sort of way.

Go For It is a great stand-alone story with a writing that doesn't hesitate to make fun of itself, as well as make readers think why they are laughing about certain things in the panels and/or dialogue in the first place. Of Delano's descriptive passages, a phrase that stuck with me was "fetus-skin sun drapes" because I remember chuckling quite gleefully at that...and it made me uncomfortable that I did. I'm excited to see what new directions the story is going in the next issues. I really appreciated the cohesiveness of the elements presented in the first three so far.


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