Friday, September 19, 2014

Hellblazer by Jamie Delano issue #38

This is the continuance of the previous issue and this one is appropriately entitled Boy's Games. As usual, it wouldn't be Hellblazer without the sickening gore and the visual gruesomeness of this issue was handled pretty well, supposedly to symbolize the machismo that surrounds violence. Archibald Acland is a cautionary tale on his own, a man whose bloodlust is the foundation of his power and the cruelty he inflicts on his own son Martin is for him a sign of authority which is pitiful because it's one of the most convoluted and primitive beliefs ever. Archibald wants to assert his relevance on his own progency, perhaps subconsciously unable to deal that his legacy will be at the mercy of a boy he perceives to be a weakling all because Martin does not share his penchant for malice and brute strength. 

I keep shaking my head while reading this issue, and it's mostly because I feel terribly bad for both father and son.

Don't get me wrong: I despised this Archibald Acland with a lot of deserved vehemence, but I also acknowledge that his short-lived character arc is suppose to reflect what a great majority of men desperately cling onto, especially the ones who can't adapt to the changes of the world, culture and society around them. Archibald sees the world becoming different from the one he grew up and he felt like he was being left behind. Martin was symbolic of his fading glory and inevitable mortality. It's interesting to note that John and Mercury had a conversation about this in issue #36 The Undiscovered Country where Merc defines herself as the future and John is a man trapped in the long reach of his past--the parallel is disconcerting.

It's just one of the things I noticed in the collected issues for Dangerous Habits. Mothers and fathers and their children are being highlighted here, as well as the false and double-edged convenient truths and lies that we are all enslaved with; and it's quite true when they say that people learn to love their chains. Archibal Acland is the best example of that, and, to a lesser extent, our own titular hero is falling prey to it. The only stark contrast is that John can still overcome it because he is not as alone as he may believe, and there is an inherent goodness to him that he often neglects to recognize.

Meanwhile, men like Archibald Acland are becoming obsolete as the world evolves and the values and idealogical landscapes are moving forward along with it. Acland's fate by the last pages was an acceptable conclusion to his horrid and detestable existence. I'm just glad that his wife and son were able to escape him. Now Martin is traveling with the rest of the camper-van family which I actually like a lot. Mercury is friendless, and it'd be good for her to have someone her age to hang around with.

One of my favorite moments was when she was taking care of a traumatized Martin after she saved him from the butchery initiation that was going on among his father and the other butchers. She looked at herself in the reflection of the van's window and realized that she was doing what Marj has done for John when he came over--and it freaked her the hell out. For all her quips about Marj being so subservient, she fails to realize that women are nurturing creatures and she is every bit as a martyr like her mother. But the distinction lies in the actions they can make and Mercury ultimately has more agency and autonomy than Marj who is the quintessential suffering mother who would do anything for her children including giving up her individuality. I still think Merc has a different path to tread than her mother's, and it's about time she starts figuring it out.

There's no much John Constantine here because the focus was on Mercury which did not bother me because I adore her to pieces. The next issue, well, is going to be one of the best we will yet to see for the Dangerous Habits collection.


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