Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Volume 2: The Devil You Know by Jamie Delano

Unlike the first collected edition which was composed of nine issues, this second volume has only five (issues #10-13 and Annual #1).  The Devil You Know didn't have the same atmosphere as its predecessor volume did but that's most probably due to the length of the collection itself which was shorter and did not have that much action-oriented content.

As I write this overall review, I look back at my individual analysis of each issue starting from #10 and I realized that the only two issues that stood out for me were #11 where the game-changing events of Newcastle were revealed and the dream-sequence narrative of #13 (which got an impressive perfect scoring for me due to my personal bias towards dream-sequence narratives in general here in comics (which I don't normally come across) and in film. I did have a soft spot for the Annual issue which had fifty-three pages of interesting backstory and exposition about John Constantine's lineage that is strongly linked to mysticism and magic. Other than that, this second volume was serviceable, supposedly collecting issues that have the thematic resonance of what the volume's title implies. I would like to point out, however, why issues #14-16 could not be included. Their content could still fit with The Devil You Know. I just finished reading them and they were not at all included in any volume of the Hellblazer trade paperbacks.

Weirdly enough, the next volume of the series Rare Cuts is composed of issues that are not in chronological order at all (reprint of #11 and then #25-26, #35, #56, #84). What is up with that? This worries me. I suppose this only means that I won't be reviewing any collected editions after this and strictly do individual reviews then. Somehow, I'm just puzzled as to why the trade paperbacks for Hellblazer did not collect the issues chronologically, which meant that if I ever want to buy hard copies, I'm going to have to look for old individual issues that were excluded (and where the hell would I find those these days?). But fuck it, I digress. Back to the review. This was a rather short volume with limited stories but the content (particularly #11, #13 and the Annual) are fascinating and thrilling, providing us yet again with searing characterizations and disturbing imagery and epiphanies about the life and times of our anti-hero John Constantine and his paranormal misadventures. At this point you don't need to force yourself to like John as a character or even as a person of complex desires and selfish motivations. It would not at all deter from your overall enjoyment of Hellblazer stories. Personally, I love him and dislike him in several occasions but nothing that truly makes me outright hate him. I maintain that he's still my favorite thing about the series (that and because I'm beginning to feel certain feelings of affection and attachment towards him, but that's my issue. Y'all should know by now that I dig the damaged ones!)


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