Tuesday, May 10, 2016

[Happy Birthday!] Hellblazer by Paul Jenkins issue #100


One of my favorite things about our charming anti-hero protagonist John Constantine is that he and I share the same zodiac sign. Damaged babe is a native Taurus: stubborn as fuck, endurable and slow to anger unless provoked, and a caring soul who tends to mess up his relationships due to ego and pride. In those ways, he and I are fundamentally the same in a nutshell. This will be the last issue I'm reviewing for this year's comics diet which I know is odd because it's only been two weeks and I'm already ending it so soon. It had to be done, unfortunately, because other reading materials have to be prioritized. That being said,  I sure picked the best issue to end it with, which is the 100th issue of the series itself entitled Sins of the Father. Clocking to forty pages in total, this special installment is one helluva awesome examination of John's pathology and daddy issues. If Paul Jenkins keeps up the quality of his run from this point on (he truly found his stride by the fifth installment of Critical Mass) then Hellblazer is going to be yet another thrilling Vertigo line that I regrettably have to abstain from again. How amazing is this 100th issue? Let me count the ways:

John Constantine performed the cleverest of tricks yet back in the resolution of Critical Mass where he divided his essence into two so he can give a portion of his soul to the Devil. He placed all his baggage and bullshit in that package and sent it to damnation. Aside from giving it his heartache and regret concerning his failed relationship with Kit Ryan, he also gave up Nergal's demon blood which was transfused to him during Delano's run. That itself had major consequences to his physical health and condition, which was why this 100th issue opens with Constantine falling into a comatose and having to be rushed to the hospital. As his friends and loved ones gathered, John finds himself trapped in a dream with the First of the Fallen who finally stopped pining over John's soul, but is still determined to fuck with him because (a) He could never get over the fact that a mere mortal piece of shit kept duping him and my personal favorite (b) He could never get over his obvious crush/infatuation with John Constantine. 

It's true: First fancies Constantine. Click this for evidence. Like, srsly, First of the Fallen, stop chasing the damn boy if he doesn't want you back. Stop fucking with his mind just because you can't fuck him. Come on, there has to be more subtle ways to let the boy know you like him, dude. Just let John come to you next time. Withhold a little and watch what happens.

Listen to your betters, Satan.

On a more serious note, First takes John to a part of Hell where there is a house and inside that house is an occupant of one: John's daddy Constantine Sr. who is not looking good, I may add. Being damned does not become him AT ALL. First off, the visual imagery is weird. Thomas is hanging surrounded by hangers. At first I thought it was just a silly pun. BUT IT IS NOT OH MY GOD. But I digress, let me build-up to that fuckery. Another commendable aspect I love about the 100th issue is that it issue made callbacks to two of my favorite classics from the Delano run which is The Family Man story arc and Hellblazer issue #31, The Mourning of the Magician. Thomas Constantine was murdered by the serial killer known as Family Man who became John's nemesis for a short while. And then, his soul couldn't pass over because John had charmed a dead cat's heart to bind Daddy's soul to earth, and that's how we get issue #31. John thought he was doing daddy dearest a favor by burning the dead cat's heart to set him free, but nope. Thomas' soul was officially damned in Hell after that ritual. Yikes. And so a grueling, brutally honest reunion commences.


John and Thomas start talking about their difficult father-son relationship with flashbacks to Thomas' drinking problem and abusive habits, John running away and bollocking around in a punk bad--all things readers already know about them at this point. But then First proceeded to keep opening more cans of shitty worms, and reveals to John that Thomas almost and I mean ALMOST thought about sexually assaulting his sister Cheryl when she started becoming a teenager because Thomas is lonely and can't cope with the fact that he's little girl has become an attractive young woman. But he NEVER touched her, only because Thomas chose to stole their neighbor's panties instead, and so the children were sent away to their aunt to live with them ever since. That was a close call. Maybe...just maybe...if Cheryl and John stayed with their dad, Thomas may have acted on his impulse and raped his daughter. John was shocked and repulsed, but knew that the Devil is only trying to push his buttons and make him loathe his father more, but John doesn't do that. He told Thomas that he forgave him for his lustful thoughts about Cheryl because at least he never got to act on them. First of the Fallen was impressed, but he still has one last ammunition to detonate.

Remember what I said about that visual imagery of Thomas Constantine being hanged next to hangers? Well...disturbingly enough, it's not for the purpose of innocuous silly puns. In the most Delano-esque fashion, that visual imagery serves a more terrifying purpose. It's worth noting that this hanger metaphor was used before in a comical way back in issue #99 with John's mate Straff wearing a shirt with a logo about it while they were riding the subway. It was later explained to be an Anti-Abortion shirt. So...do you--do you guys see where I'm going with this now? Go on and hold someone's hand (like your pet's whatever) because it's about to get ugly and uncomfortable. Are you guys, ready? Well, here we go:


For years, Thomas has blamed John for his mother's death when all along HE WAS THE ONE WHO KILLED MARY ANNE. He forced an abortion on her and has the gull to make John feel like his very birth had made his mother bleed out to death? HIS MOTHER BLED OUT TO DEATH BECAUSE SHE HAD A BOTCHED ABORTION VIA THE USAGE OF A HANGER HOLY SHIT FUCK! Is this a common practice? Why a fucking hanger of all things, merciful Yahweh, why?! And need I remind anyone of this passive-aggressive writing in the mother's tombstone? '...who died to bring is John'? FUCK YOU THOMAS CONSTANTINE.

But you know what? JOHN FORGIVES HIM ANYWAY:


John leaves his father, absolving himself of the guilt he felt for his mother's death, tells the Devil to fuck off and stop flirting with him via mind-fuckery, and wakes up from his comatose, much to the relief of everyone (Chas, Rich, Straff, Michelle). He wakes up, not actually feeling better even after knowing the truth. He just felt numb and aimless so he started hitting on a nurse. But hey, at least it's one less baggage this time, and he has his friends. I never got to fully discuss how much I appreciate the fact that John has people in his life again who cared about him, joked around with him, trusted him, and got worried sick when they thought they were going to lose him earlier. I'm just relieved that John doesn't have to be as alone as he feels most of the time. That's progress for me! 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHN CONSTANTINE!

RECOMMENDED: 10/10

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