Welcome back, everyone! It's officially the third wave of my Hellblazer comics diet, and it feels so good to be back, reading more of my most favorite troubled anti-hero, John Constantine. And what better way to start the diet than with a surprise Jamie Delano issue? In case you guys have forgotten (which is understandable since I haven't been reading/reviewing Hellblazer since August of last year), Jamie Delano is the first writer of the series itself, and he was succeeded by Garth Ennis since my second wave of Hellblazer reviews came around.
I considered it a pleasant surprise only because I've developed a rather keen Stockholm Syndrome with Delano. I was held captive by his black comedy prose where he would often abuse me with a buttload of hurtful feels. I was so used to how much it hurts when I read Hellblazer that I don't think I would ever enjoy this series if it didn't make me feel like something is stabbing me in the chest or something. That's just how it goes.
Luckily for me, this eighty-fourth issue was an amusing standalone. And by "amusing", I'm also taking into account that Delano's signature penchant for the macabre and terrible is still a huge part of it. This entire issue reminded me of his classic storylines back when he was still writing Hellblazer where humor and terror blended very well with each other. Issue #84 is entitled In Another Part of Hell, and man is it fucked up and super gross in a lot of places!
The last time we left John Constantine: he just broke up with arguably the love of his life Kit Ryan, became a drunken hobo and slummed it up with a sympathetic boy whore, killed the King of Vampires, got involved with some nasty racial strife in the streets, and finally duped the Devil for the third time (because the First of the Fallen is a real schmuck). Things hopefully will start looking up for Constantine this time. He hailed a cab driven by his best mate Chas Chandler, who was happy to see him again even though they had a recent falling-out post-Kit break-up. Chas also told John about his sixteen-year-old daughter getting knocked up and giving birth to a girl, and that Chas wanted John to be there and make nice with the family. John was not thrilled by the idea, considering he's going to have to deal with the missus, Trish, who never really liked him and will forever hold John responsible for all the shit in Chas' life every time he's around. She's not exactly wrong about that.
So Chas dropped off John in their house otherwise known as the Queen's Castle for reasons that John was just about to flashback to for readers' benefit. It turns out that Chas used to have a psychic, manipulative, and malicious mother named Queenie who would cast mischievous spells just to make Chas' life miserable. John was young and inexperienced as a mage and occultist then, and was essentially frightful of Queenie. He was living with Chas at that time because he had no place to go, and so Queenie started to have a little fun with John by having her familiar--a female monkey in a wig and a dress named Slag--spy him and torment him. Chas had complained and sought John's help about his mother and that damn monkey, and John was determined to help Chas; only because he wanted to gain the other bloke's trust because back then John considered friends as 'valuable' because they can be useful to his advantage. Constantine was young, jaded but thoroughly ambitious and filled with potentials. Getting rid of Queenie is a stepping stone for further greatness, I suppose.
The most unsettling aspect of this story was the blatant yet pseudo-bestiality between John and the monkey Slag, only because John tried to seduce the monkey herself and make her believe that John was developing feelings for her. John truly showcased superb acting skills that even Chas bought it! And unfortunately for Slag, so did she. It was pretty brutal--seeing John strangle and drown a monkey by the riverbanks just so he can mentally incapacitate Queenie and her magic since Slag is her familiar. It demonstrated just how ruthless John was then and how he would continue to be that way for the next years to come as his power go stronger. So John relived these memories while he waited for the Chandler family to come home. Trish was not pleased to see him again while Chas's daughter and grandchild felt differently. The issue ended with John begging them not to name the child 'Queenie'. It was delivered in a joking manner but we all know damn well he is serious. Queenie is finally gone, thanks to John's meddling, but he willingly admitted that the method he used to get rid of her was more than questionable and he will have to live with that, like most of his mistakes. What a fabulous way to start this comics diet wave!