Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hellblazer by Eddie Campbell issue #86-88

I've been reviewing comic book issues long enough to encounter some really shitty material that I often just post one official review that collects all of these issues just so I could get over discussing it, and move on to better stuff. However, I'd also do this with some of the greatest issues whose badass storytelling demand to be summarized in one post. This time, the remaining three issues (#86-88) that comprise the story arc written by Eddie Campbell entitled Warped Notions belongs to the unfortunate former. I read the three issues in one sitting and I can swear up and down to all the gods in Olympus and Asgard that I DID NOT UNDERSTAND A DAMN THING. Usually, Hellblazer issues are formulaic; a supernatural case calls the attention of John Constantine, some fucked-up shit goes down, and John either finds some helpful insight about his current personal troubles, or learns to accept that human nature can be so vile and wicked, and he has to deal with it in the best way he could. Writers like Jamie Delano and Garth Ennis provided rich stories that follow this formula, and some of them often stray away from this too, and they are often the most riveting and satisfying of arcs.

Tragically, Eddie Campbell did not live to any of his predecessor's accomplishments based solely on what he had come up with Warped Notions. It's not even comparable to the lesser works of Delano and Ennis (Fear Machine and Damnation's Flame respectively annoyed the hell out of me). That being said, those two lesser works actually made sense because they were building up to something, and each installment at least had some moments to it that made them bearable enough to see through the end. Warped Notions did not have any of this at all, which was why I didn't want to waste three more separate posts about it because I frankly don't have much to say, if not anything at all. From what I can gather, even Campbell himself doesn't know what's going on with his plot twists. First there were apocalyptic whispers, an alliance with spirits, then reality-breaking curses that made urban legends come true, then something called an Everything Virus where rain forests could stop it from spreading, and then the spirit of Sir Francis Dashwood betrays John and the world and its creation because he made this magic circle--OH MY GOD JUST TALKING ABOUT THEM AGAIN IS MAKING ME IRRITABLE!!

Sean Phillips' illustrations were at least a treat. Because of Campbell's many locations (some of them I can't even name because at this point I just wanted to finish this pointless story), Phillips was able to draw different landscapes and an ensemble of irrelevant and/or soon-to-be-dead characters whom I can't even give a damn about. I really don't know anymore. This entire Warped Notions arc was a waste of my time. It was inconsistent, muddled with details that don't have any long-term pay-off in the end, and characters who weren't even developed. Worst of all, John Constantine was jerked around in several places both metaphorically and literally, and in the end he resolved the matter in the most underwhelming way possible. He did not shine for this story at all. He did not make me laugh with his witty quips. He did not make me feel a damn thing--AND THAT IS AN ACCOMPLISHMENT IN ITSELF because John Constantine always makes me feel things.

Hopefully, the official replacement Paul Jenkins who is taking over for the next issues would do better and make me forget about this whole ordeal. For now, I would advise anyone reading Hellblazer chronologically to avoid issues #85-88 altogether because it would have no kind of impact at all in how you would appreciate this series. That's how much of a non-event it was. These have to be the lowest rated issues I've ever reviewed in the blog. That's saying something.


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