Monday, September 15, 2014

Hellblazer by Jamie Delano issue #32

This was a rather peculiar issue and it's one that reminded me of this recurring stress dream I had. Back in college, one surefire sign that I'm reaching my limit was whenever I'd dream about walking down the street, suddenly turning to a secluded corner and finding a group of men who are hellbent on raping me. Yes, that's my stress dream. A bit TMI? Damn straight it is. But how is this an appropriate opening for my review of this issue entitled New Tricks? Well, another variation of that stress dream is that, instead of gang rape once I turn into a corner, I'd get chased by rabid, monstrous dogs instead. And this issue is about said creatures. So I was genuinely creeped out while reading this fucker.

Co-written by guest writer Doug Foreman, the entire story is a subversion of the long-held belief that a dog is a man's best friend...which means this is bound to get uncomfortable real fast for you dog lovers out there. In this issue, we see a dog whose body was occupied by a psychopath and who apparently acquired the taste for human flesh. Because he is now the top dog, he managed to get the rest of the stray dogs around the neighborhood to serve as his entourage. He also has a mentally-challenged young man as his servant who lures unsuspecting victims into the junkyard where he would feast on them. Everything about this story is as ridiculous as it sounds. However, it manages to be enjoyable because it is bloody disturbing to read about killer dogs eating people. That's anyone's nightmare fuel under the right conditions. As always, John Constantine meddled because that's just how our favorite anti-hero does things. We get some pretty slick action sequences where the monster dog tries to get John and John, using wits and charms alone, managed to elude capture. It was humorous and absurd but still a great fun, which I think was the point of this issue. 

There are a few socio-political commentaries again about how the country belongs to the dogs now. It's a literal manifestation of the 'dog-eat-dog world' proverb. It's also a testament to the savage nature of man; how animalistic bloodlust is a common instinct in any species. I think I like this issue because it wasn't pretentious or over-the-top vicious. Some gruesome images of canine fangs are shown which I thought was properly disgusting and scary to look at. John gets to be clever and entertaining which is sometimes a needed comic relief for all the darkness and macabre that this series usually indulges in. Just like issue #23, this was feels like a filler whose purpose is to entertain rather than tell a substantial story which is fine as long as it works well. And it does. I can appreciate it for that quality alone.

Nothing to more to add to this review. This was easily digestible but not memorable enough for a re-read. I do like reading John Constantine adapting to strange situations well and making the best of it, and  this issue is one good example of that.


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