Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hellblazer by Garth Ennis issue #79 [Rake at the Gates of Hell part 2]

There is an ancient law that states that when a demon is bested three times by a mortal then this demon would receive eternal torment instead. John Constantine has tricked the First of the Fallen (Satan himself) about three actual times now. FotF, however, refuses to acknowledge the last con as an official one and begins to plot his next move to take down John. Although these two first met in Ireland when John was visiting his friend Brendan to ask for help, John and FotF go way back. 

They had an indirect contact when John was infected by Nergal with demon blood under orders of FotF himself so when John has sexual congress with the second Mary (Zed), he will taint her and she will become an unsuitable vessel to birth out a new Messiah for Heaven.

Their first real face-to-face encounter was not very pleasant. First Fallen was supposed to snag Brendan's soul which the poor sod sold in exchange for the world's finest collection of wines. John helps a brotha out by duping First into drinking holy water which rendered hin weak enough for John to beat him up and help Brendan pass over to Heaven when First's claim of his soul expired. Anger and hilariously shamed, First Fallen vowed to take John's soul the moment he dies of lung cancer. John tricked him the second time when he brokers his soul to not one but two other devils, Beelzebub and Azazel. The three now have legitimate claim but cannot risk going to war to fight one another in exchange of claiming one mortal's soul. So they had to cure John of cancer and let him live. This all went down in the Dangerous Habits arc, and man it was hilarious. 

We get the second act of the duel between John and First Fallen occured in Guys and Dolls which felt anticlimactic but we were introduced to key players such as Ellie, the succubus, and the reluctant and freshly fallen Gabriel, former archangel whose John stole the heart of so he can command Gab to protect him during whatever unholy hell First will unleash. This arc Rakes at the Gates of Hell has been very engrossing and I'm only at the second part. It's beguiling in a reminiscent Dangerous Habits sort of way which is a blessed break from the bloody shite that was Damnation's Flame (I really have to stop repeatedly mentioning that piece of crap).

For this issue, there are some gruesome and violent scenes concerning about Helen the former lover of John who is now a junkie prostitute and an ungrateful bitch who tried to stab John with scissors just after he rescued her nasty ass. She would rather get high with her massive prick of a pimp. John has too many things to worry about than the conflicts of disgusting mortals but these subplots don't feel like fillers at all. Somehow, I feel like they will play out into expanded larger roles particularly the intimate strifes about his African-British friends and the corrupt, racist police officers. But for now John distances himself from that and meets up with Gabriel so the former angel can hold up his end of the blackmail.

Elsewhere, First confronts Azazel and Beelzebub and tells them what Astra just found out; a delightful loophole in the supposedly binding conrtact concerning the claiming of John Constantine's soul. As it turns out, First has no obligation to uphold the two devils' claims on John because they are not at all brothers and therefore they are lesser than First Fallen who is only matched by the Morningstar Lucifer himself (who is busy spinning-off in his own title written by Neil Gaiman). So First quickly obliterates both devils and rushes to Earth to claim John's soul once and for all. He promises a reward for Astra for all her help. As soon as she was alone, she collects the essence of one of the recently obliterated devils and forges a sword, shouting that her reward is Hell itself which means she means to betray the First of the Fallen all along.

This has been really freaking awesome. I'm happy Ennis picked up the pace at last!


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