Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hellblazer by Jamie Delano issue #22

The thing about this issue entitled Balance that struck me the most is the selection of visually mind-boggling yet ultimately meaningful scenes in what I believe is the awaited climax for the Fear Machine storyline. Some of these scenes also call into mind the dream-sequence from issue #14; something that I've always known is a key event and has now finally played out in this issue.

Here be spoilers, I guess, but only because I have a lengthy discussion about the dream-sequence originally in my review of said issue that it featured in, and I felt the need to talk about them in light of the recent revelations for Balance because the parallels are undeniable though still open to interpretation.

What I noticed firstly is the Biblical symbolism of serpents. It is the cover for this issue after all. Zed also has this as a tattoo covering her arms which heavily suggested that her role is that of the temptress. Marj, then, is the Eve of this dynamic, and they seduce the man  (John) together into copulating with them. It's a bizarre sexual situation that is not as sexy as it sounds because it's a metaphor for a union both sacred and unholy. And then there is the 'femaleness' thematic tension which is also blatant (it is announced by no other than Zed who proved to be a more nuanced and pivotal character for this issue than I was led to believe). The three aspects of womanhood were also realized in the manifestation of Zed (crone), Marj (mother) and Mercury (maiden) as the arbiters of magic. The God of all Gods (freaking Jallakuntilliokan) has taken the appearance of a dragon (which, if I remember correctly, is a beast referenced in the Revelations). 

After consummating, Zed immediately gets pregnant on the spot and gives birth to a giant egg which hatched into a second dragon. It defeated G.O.A.G, restoring the balance in the earthly plane. The three women accomplished this by themselves and made it absolutely fucking clear that no male is needed so John had to watch in awe as the plot resolves itself before him and all he had to contribute is the seed. It's an interesting commentary about male and female dichotomy but I'm not exactly sure what to feel about it. So yes, these symbols were pretty intriguing especially if you're like me and you can recognize their message and meaning and then proceed to contextualize them in the story.

Now how do these things connect to the dream-sequence in issue #14? Simple. Almost all these situations have happened there in his dream (the apocalyptic subtext, the mating and instant pregnancy, the deformed/mutated offspring) which meant that, in a way, John has been receiving premonitions or divine interventions, or whatever you want to call them. His small role in the process of destroying G.O.A.G is quite laughable and pitiful all at once, marking just how incredibly helpless John's character can be in the presence of powers that he could never understand, let alone be a part of as a mortal man. It also felt like he had been actively deceived, if not outright rejected, by the two women he cared about the most, one who is unattainable (Zed) and one who is readily available (Marj). As for Mercury, it is her purity that ultimately disallowed anything more intimate to happen between her and John. I maintain that they have a fatherly relationship and I kind of like it kept that way. Lovely and charming as Constantine may be, but everything he seems to touch ends up getting soiled or spoiled to no fault of his own. And Mercury is just too good for that. However, I do wish they'd stay friends after all of this.

In a  nutshell, I liked this issue though there are confounding moments and a general anticlimactic feeling while I was reading it. It was fairly creative in style, substance and execution nevertheless, and has made me feel like other darker yet beguiling horizons are coming for Hellblazer next.


RECOMMENDED: 7/10

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