Friday, August 21, 2015

Hellblazer by Garth Ennis issue #75

This has been such a pointlessly complicated story arc that had no satisfying pay-off to properly conclude it, or inspired any long-term emotional investment from me whatsoever. Hell, even the official synopsis from DC Wikia (which is my numero uno source of reference for Hellblazer issues) doesn't say that much either. That's how much of a non-event this last installment of Damnation's Flame was. 

In fact, everything about it felt like a non-event in spite of the wordy dialogue and the supposedly brutal and compelling scenes of conflict. I also feel like there are layers of anti-American sentiment if not leftist propaganda in the writing itself, and the depictions of known real-life people such as JFK and American Indians felt like were only done for shock value as opposed to a meaningful mouthpiece which I think was Ennis' goal all along. Look, I am not a very politics-inclined person myself, but I know enough of the writing approach for such a topical scenario to critically judge and take a part a literary piece when it aims to be political in scope. 

Damnation's Flame is probably the worst story arc from Garth Ennis I've read. Comparably even worse than Jamie Delano's Fear Machine which is mostly about the late sixties hippies movement + feminist power structure in the form of the Three Faces of Eve. At least Fear Machine wasn't pretending to be something it's not. Damnation's Flame, however, took itself too seriously that its overall message was diluted. And to tell you the truth, I didn't see any purpose to its message at all but white noise. 

It just left a bad aftertaste in my mouth and it's one of those kinds of stories that make me wish I could forget ever reading it. Just look at how it was summarized in DC Wikia:

"The Indian spirits abandon John after they realize he is 'Just another white man.' Cedella tells John before she leaves him and JFK that to escape all he needs to do is wake up. John follows JFK to the White House to confront the current administration, but when this turns out to be Abe Lincoln, John bails on JFK. Abe tears off both of JFK's arms, and as the brains fall out of his head, he finds that he can no longer remember the words to patriotic songs. John wakes up just before some vagrants are going to set him on fire and escapes. Cedella tells her brother to throw himself from the Empire State building."

Basically, this concluding piece of the arc failed to do a lot of things and its main flaw has to be the dismissively quick wrap-ups on the character arc readers were supposed to care about especially concerning John's escape from the witchwalk and the assholes who try to burn him back in the real world. That had such a promising build-up and then nothing truly significant happened afterwards once John came back. Well, his signature trench coat was stolen so he has to wear this ridiculous black fur one that made him look like a pimp (albeit a sexy one). Next is the unfair treatment of Papa Midnite and his story about his sister Cedalla. Once his sister came back from Hell, she just orders him to kill himself and that was it. I was so excited to see Papa Midnite come back to the series but after he just served a very superficial purpose to a stupidly convoluted plot, he gets disposed.

The worst offender of all, however, is the fact that it lacked Ennis' formulaic "bad-guy-gets-his-due" in the most satisfying manner ever. There really were no discernible important "bad guys" for this story. I don't consider Papa Midnite as one at all, neither is fictional Abe Lincoln. The victims are just as worse as their attackers, that's all I got from this arc. Fuck this bloody shite, I'm done talking about it.

Did I mention that this issue has 41 pages? There is a bonus story concerning a flashback on how to Brendan, Kit and John met and became close pals. That piece was a saving grace but unfortunately not enough to make me rate this higher or recommend it.


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