Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hellblazer by Garth Ennis issue #77

In this issue of Hellblazer, Chas Chandler makes his overdue appearance after his rough and seemingly final disagreement with John which coincided with John's break-up with Kit. Hell, the casual obliteration of their friendship was hinged on the fact that John acted like a complete asshole bitch when Chas tried to have a heart-to-heart with him because he's his best mate. 

In consequence, Chas beats him up severely. He even dunks John's head into a toilet. Because, tough love and tough shit, Johnny boy. Frankly, the violence was a little extreme and I'm not sure John deserved it. And I think Chas knows it so this centerpiece about him reflects his guilt over abandoning John like that. But a guy can only take so much and Chas unfortunately reached the limit after John stupidly disrespected him because he was arrogant enough to believe Chas will readily forgive him. That is not the case and no one should think of their friends as receptive pushovers who will always put up with our shit. So good on, Chas, and I hope you learned your lesson, Johnny.

This was a nice standalone because as critical and prissy as I am about Ennis' meandering and predictably formulaic story arc for this series, his standalones are definitely his strongest suit. This particular one about one of Chas' memorable experience with John was an absolute delight at that. It's mostly about flashbacks blending with the present time where Chas was talking to some of his friends at the bar after watching a sports game. He opened up about a friend he had gotten into a fight with almost seven months ago and tried to justify/understand why he even ended up being friends with such a self-centered wanker in the first place. Well, you and me both, Chas.

As it turns out, Chas liked John well enough in spite of knowing what he does for a living and the many ways he often got caught up in the occult business which is partly responsible for the slow and gradual decay of his marriage and home life. Instead of blaming John and staying the fuck away like any smart person, Chas proceeded to stick around the charismatic yet harbinger of ill-will that is Constantine. In one scenario that he recalled, he talked about joining John as he tried to free the soul of a girl who has been raped by her father on numerous occasions. John promised her that she will no longer be submitted to such atrocious torture and this set her soul at peace and she went to heaven. The vengeful ghost of incestuous daddy creep was not happy about that so he tried to make John pay. Chas could only watch in horror and bewilderment as John and the ghost duke it out and disappear, possibly in Hell together. John returned moments later, unscathed by the flames of inferno because he struck a "deal" but never expounded on the details. That should have been a red flag for Chas and he should have run to the other direction.

So...John totally makes a habit of infernal bargains left and right as if this doesn't cost a piece of soul (which we all know absolutely does but it's motherfucking Constantine so we just let it slide). And yes, Chas let that slide and went on with his blissfully ignorant, glass half-full friendship with a man he certainly doesn't fully comprehend--yet learned to love and cherish as his best mate anyway. Oh, Chas. Life would have been so much simpler for everyone in the world if we all loved people who are healthy, safe and good for our well-being, ain't it? But, really, where would be the fun in that? 

At the end of his enlightening tale, Chas was already alone inside the empty bar when John stepped in and profusely apologized for his behavior regarding his break-up with Kit and that incident with the teens he almost murdered using magic. Chas, worn down by his immense loyalty and love for John--even knowing that John might again find a way to disappoint and hurt him again in the future--forgave him and accepted the cruel fate laid before him as the one and only person that John could count on. His other connections and several alliances with other people may fall apart, his girlfriends may leave him heartbroken and beyond repair, but John knew he can make it through as long as Chas Chandler had his back. It's touching and disturbing all at once.


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