Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hellblazer by Garth Ennis issue #83 [Rake at the Gates of Hell part 6]

So, for the first order of business, the Devil gives back John Constantine's lung cancer. I mean, of course he did that. He taketh away, he giveth back and all that. So this issue opens with John puking on the floor as Satan reads him poetry from his murdered friend's journal. FotF is taking his sweet time tormenting John and who could blame him? 

He's evil incarnate and a mere mortal just happened to trick him thrice in a row; and the bastard also made him drink holy water once, and then flipped him off as soon as he cured said mortal of cancer. In his point of view which I can share with enough distance--John Constantine is the bad guy here. And isn't it just perfectly quaint that John is the Devil's very own demon that he must be rid of in any way possible? I think it's cute as fuck.

While John is bleeding to death, the Devil decided to tell him a story of How I Met Your Father (or, rather, How God And I Used to be Besties Until the Day We're Not). Basically, he said that he was created for the sole purpose of being the companion to the Creator as he goes about his business of creation and stuff. He was there to agree, to worship and to stroke God's pride and ego with flattering compliments and whatnot. 

One day, God told him he plans to create beings of free will and the Devil (who was Nameless then) disagreed with him for the first time. God was not pleased which was ironic because he was all for free will and yet the moment when his friend has a different opinion, he totally gives him the silent treatment. The Devil bemoans how God totes ignored him since then until he stumbled upon him on another fateful day and realized that Creator is straight-up crazy to create a paradox of giving humanity the choice between right and wrong when He knew people are arseholes and will often choose to do the wrong thing. And then he casts out the Devil out of Heaven for that awkward moment of understanding that passed between them and the Devil, in his own words, has been "falling ever since". So the storytelling time went on for a while and then we get this scene with some slashy subtext that I felt the need to screencap because it's just so goddamn cheesy I thought my fangirl mind was only dreaming it happened:



Srsly, Satan just tenderly touches John's face and says that since he has met John, he woke him up and turned his life around. He just couldn't walk away from Constantine after he felt such a powerful yet hateful and maybe even a little lustful connection with him. I'm gagging and squeeing all at once, by the way. It's a bit disgusting but hey, I'm not complaining.

And then as Satan questions his existence, John lights a cigarette (WHILST STILL CHOKING BLOOD) and comments that the Devil is in fact God's conscience. That was his purpose and function all along. John explains it better here in these panels:



And then some shouting match occurs, and Astra appears and John starts sobbing, begging Satan to take her away because his guilt over damning her soul to Hell is making things worse. Satan refuses and was about to drag him to inferno when Astra revealed herself to be ELLIE THE SUCCUBUS all along! My god, this character has been given a lot of proactive roles since she appeared in the stories and I freaking love it. Using the weapon she forged from the essence of the devils Satan killed earlier on, she wielded the knife and stabbed Satan in the back and through his heart. Satan dies, Ellis removes the cancer from John's lungs and now things are more uncertain regarding the duel between John and the Devil. It was a nice, unexpected wrap-up. A woman saves the day and that's pretty cool. And now John owes her a big one. I'm excited to see how their dynamics develop down the line. Ellie seems hardcore resourceful and clever to the boot and John could use a strong ally like that.

To end this issue, we get a wonderful closure and heart-to-heart between John and George:


He also had a nice moment with Helen who just recovered from the trauma and rape courtesy of her now-dead pimp. She's on her way to recovery and a new life and she was grateful that John was the reason for this miraculous second chance. She tells him he's very special and hugs him. John holds on tight--feeling the weight of the last six months of misery--and cries:


But John is still all bravado so instead of saying something sentimental back, he opted for a charming grins as he sees her off, telling her "Goodnight and God bless. Now fuck off to bed" good-humoredly. 

WOW. That had been a fast and unpredictable roller coaster that paid off with a satisfying and humane conclusion. John moves on from his heartbreak over losing Kit, he finally learns to forgive himself over his friends' often unhealthy attachment to him which gets them in trouble, and he saved a woman he cared about from utterly destroying her life into shambles. Those are the small victories that matter in life, and sure, having his ally Ellie kill the Devil was an amazing feat but John could hardly take credit for that so he focuses on the one thing he can feel triumphant about; and that is to live another day, wiser, more evolved and less afraid. Bravo, Mr. Ennis. This has been a very spectacular story arc! I expect more great things from now on.

RECOMMENDED: 9/10

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