Friday, August 8, 2014

Hellblazer by Jamie Delano issue #6

It's really taking me a long time to read and review Hellblazer this week due to needless distractions. It also didn't help that the last issue was alienating and baffling for reasons that just disappointed me. This Extreme Prejudice issue, however, was right up the alley with what I'm used to when reading this comics but not exactly a stellar story that I ate up readily. There are great elements of gore and grim that I think effectively served the plot. We get to see another dimension of Hell which to me are aspects of this comics that I couldn't help but consider to be socio-political representations of the times Hellblazer was written in. There are strong religious overtones so far since issue #4 Waiting for the Man that are hard to miss by now, and this issue provided us not just with literal demonic entities but also zealots bent on oppressing and attacking the marginalized in society, and who are eager to impose their own self-righteous crusade. These are the true villains we face every day, and John Constantine is aware of this.

True to its title, this issue showcased subplots which bear that thematic resonance I just described. Delano's writing has painted England with bold brushstrokes composed of dark hues and hard-edged lines. It's a portrait you don't exactly enjoy looking at but also can't turn away from. I liked that even though the humor is scarce in this issue, we still get gems of it along the way, particularly when John Constantine monologues like he couldn't be bothered by the atrocities escalating around him. 

One would believe that our supposed hero is a callous, self-absorbed asshole who doesn't care about humanity in general but that's an erroneous interpretation of the character. Constantine requires deeper reflection than that. Personally, I believe what he has is manufactured apathy. I think he's been in the game long enough to understand that getting too emotionally involved with both the victims and villains of this macabre charade will only make him lose sight of the important things. Seemingly laidback and snarky, John wants everyone to believe he doesn't care enough when in reality he is putting himself in danger because he knows he is called upon for a mission, as reluctant and begrudging he may be in fulfilling such a burdensome role. There is a devotion in which he surrenders himself upon that role. I don't think he ever complained about it. I don't think he ever wanted to seriously quit. It's a suffocating lifestyle which is why it's always great to see John take breaks here and there just to take the edge off. 

Speaking of which, what gets him in a good mood is his relationship with Zed. The two are lovers by now though I think every relationship with a woman John gets caught up in is a matter of convenience and tragic circumstances. His rendezvous with Zed falls on the former category which is quite nice. A perfectly cathartic shag is fine every now and then, especially when the rest of John's world is unfolding into madness and chaos. This issue reveals that the stakes are higher than what he anticipated and that he is much of an inconvenience to the demons as they are to him. They want Constantine to join them, enticing him quite a pragmatic proposal ("Your interests are best served with the Army of the Damned"). There are also the enigmatic Damnation Army and Resurrection Crusaders. My theory is that the first one is a military infantry from hell and the second is a faction of quasi-religious zealots. And that there's going to be a war and John Constantine is going to have to choose sides or fuck them both. It's in everyone's best interest that he would opt for the latter.


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