Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hellblazer by Garth Ennis issue #56

This standalone issue feels like something Jamie Delano would have written himself back in the previous run. I think This is the diary of Danny Drake was pretty awesome, to be honest. The underlying hilarity and sardonic tonality were reminiscent of the previous Delano stories which I really miss since Garth Ennis took over. So far, his work on Dangerous Habits is the only story of his I consider phenomenal and I think this standalone deserves the same recognition. The dark humor and character exploration which composed this story were irresistible for someone like me who believes that the real draw of the Hellblazer series in general is its ability to showcase tales that are both unsettling and tragic particularly when it deals with the symbolic demons of its engaging titular hero. That's when this series truly shines.

This issue has more to do with the character Danny Drake and his struggles with his inner demon which we later find out happens to be both literal and figurative in nature. However, the story also makes a compelling parallel with that of John Constantine's experiences. The premise was simple: Danny Drake is being haunted by his diary which has the power to make him verbalize his most private thoughts secrets every time he was in public. After loudly proclaiming he's a whoremonger and listing his sins while in the middle of a crowded subway train, it catches John's attention and he decided to listen to this poor sod's story about his clumsy experience with the occult which cost him his important relationships in the aftermath, including that with his wife and unborn child.

Understandably enough, John took pity on him, seeing a version of his own heartbreak and regret in Danny. He decided to help but instead discovered the demon whom Danny had the displeasure of summoning in his past--and the real untold story of the unusual punishment Danny has received. There was no haunted diary at all. Rather, there was only a man who found a way to cheat his demon from their deal. The bargain was that the demon will come back for Danny in five years but Danny evades this by sacrificing his unborn child in exchange for another five years of existence. Those next five years were utterly miserable and now the demon is coming back for him again. Appalled by this revelation, John also uncovers yet another baby to be offered so Danny can have yet another five years. John stresses that Danny should stop delaying the inevitable and accept hia fate because at this point he fucking deserves damnation. The last page features Danny surrendering to the inevitable which was a happy ending in itself, I suppose because no innocent child has to take his place.

At a pub, John was a little angry that he even tried to help Danny Drake but then remembers what he has done to Astra in Newcastle and knew that he is not in the position to judge the other man too harshly. That was different, though. I remember shouting at the issue while I was reading it, saying, "BUT YOU'RE A DIFFERENT MAN NOW, JOHN CONSTANTINE!" and it's true and I think he knows it too. When he recalls Newcastle, I get the sense that some of that guilt has been absolved which I think is a sign of maturity and self-acceptance. That is a long time coming and I'm pleased to see that I'm finally seeing a positive transformation from John after 56 issues. He is more confident, less impulsive and has allowed himself to be loved by another person (Kit). When all is said and done, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I BELIEVE IN JOHN CONSTANTINE and it's time for us to allow him to become a hero.

RECOMMENDED: 8/10

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