Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hellblazer by Grant Morrison issue #25

What. the. FUCK? Like, huh? Okay, let me try again.....DAFUCK??!!

I was really pumped up for the Family Man story arc (issue #24 was holybejesus uh-mazing and if you're not reading Hellblazer, you better start with that then!) but I checked out the titles again in wikia and I realized that said story arc will pick up on issues #28-30 so that explains why Grant Morrison has taken over to give us his own Hellblazer mini-story...and man, though I'm more or less familiar with Morrison's work on Batman material, I have no idea whatsoever what he planned to tell here--hence my eloquently worded what-the-fucking in the beginning of this review once I did finishing reading it.

It could be more or less due to the fact that I wanted the Family Man story arc and got this instead, so the level of my interest tends to wane every now and then as I read this. From what I can understand, John Constantine is on the road to stop the Family Man from his malicious intents and so hitchhikes and ends up in a town called Thursdyke to go sight-seeing with a friend from Ravenscar mental facility. She's a psychic named Una (and at this point I have grown suspicious of every female acquaintance of John's; that is to say I always have to look for subtle clues if they are shagging--because I'm pathetic that way). 

Does that make sense for me to assume that? John is still going to meet the Family Man later by issue #28 so I can only theorize that he decides to make a quick stop for a lady friend? That's the only logical timeline I can think of. But if he's such in a damn hurry to stop a serial killer from massacring tons of families, then why is he making stops along the way in the first place? Because there's a woman involved? They don't even look that chummy with each other, anyway. UGH. Maybe I just need to stop looking at this in the point of view of the upcoming Family Man story arc and just view it as a story all on its own. 

ANYWAY. The premise of the story for Early Warning is intricate. There is a depth to it that is unmistakable but so far it also comes off as a mere macabre showcase for shock value and the general grimness that defines most Hellblazer stories. Basically, the town is divided because of a nuclear plant base situated within the place. There are people who depend on the base as a source of their livelihood while the others protest its existence. Meanwhile, some shady characters who apparently control said plant have ulterior motives. One of them wants to experiment on the 'invisible energies' of the earth which could turn men into monsters with the right tweaking or frequency, whatever. It sounds just like the cuckoos from Fear Machine who want to combine science with dark magic. So that's sort of annoying to me because I didn't like the Fear Machine story arc in that aspect but I do have a lot of respect for Morrison so I won't compare his plot with that of FM's. 

By the middle of the issue, the horrors escalated quickly. Said mad scientist was able to send out microwaves that would alter the human brain's composition which meant that such a thing will bring out people's dormant dark desires or animalistic urges to the surface. So during a pagan parade, the townsfolk while dressed in creepy costumes, start acting out their savage nature, and I kept shaking my head and muttering "what the fuck" the entire time as I flip through page after page of sick violence. I also can't help but think that this undeniable common theme that runs in Hellblazer is reflective of the paranoia and tension that the eighties in the UK may have undergone. It sort of makes it seem that writers like Delano and Morrison are making commentaries pertaining to their era, one that is populated by real and imagined horrors against any structure of authority and where every progress made in science can be abused for malicious purposes. I think that's where the true horror lies. And since I belong to a different generation, I can't fully get on board because stories like this are dissonant echoes coming from a place I have never lived in.

That is mainly why I'm rating this lower than I should because I have to contextualize my own set of sensibilities and personal convictions regarding the themes present in Hellblazer with stories like the Fear Machine and now this one. That's not to say that they aren't well-written or compelling; they just don't connect with me in a way it would have if I was an eighties kid, and if I also have the same issues and opinions toward governments and scientific progress. I'm also not claiming that Delano and Morrison share that kind of anarchic sentiments but their Hellblazer stories do thread that fine line--and as a reader, I can't always enjoy it. There is only a certain amount of gore and darkness I can put up with before it starts to get on my nerves.


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