Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Hellblazer by Paul Jenkins issue #101

It's May again which is fitting because my last comics diet for this series ended on the same month last year. It also happened to be on the day of John Constantine's birthday and my most recent review was the 100th issue. Now here I am again in this blog, and I can honestly say that reading more of my precious baby Constantine couldn't have come at a better time in my life. A lot has happened since last year, mostly in regards to my personal life. And I've always maintained that since we were fellow Taureans, that John and I deal with our problems quite the same. We mostly share a few negative traits in personality, as stated by our astrological sign, which we both struggle to deal with if not overcome.

Things had always been difficult for John Constantine from the get-go. Jamie Delano's early run depicted him as morally ambiguous and guilt-ridden due to the sins he committed on his friends which took him a while to forgive himself for and as well as earn their forgiveness. The next writer Garth Ennis explored John's transformation into an actual decent human being by giving him a serious girlfriend named Kit who managed to lead him to a better path and make him so happy. She could not accept his ties to the occult and passion for the mysticism and the paranormal, however. She most certainly did not want to get involved so as soon as her life became endangered, she decided to cut off ties with John. That relationship didn't work out and it had serious repercussions on  John's emotional health. 

And now that we have this next writer Paul Jenkins, I'm quite excited to see what new dimensions of his character can be revealed. In actuality, I've already reviewed several of his issues last year for the series, and I was impressed with a few stories while a little detached from others. Two issues that really stood out for me are issues #96 and #100. They all dealt with Constantine's ongoing game with the First of the Damned who just wants to claim his soul and fails for the third time when John thought of a nifty trick, almost like figuratively punching a loophole into an otherwise tight contract. The Devil did try to attack John back by attacking our anti-hero's daddy issues, but John, for the first time, was able to move past his father's abuse and their overall fractured relationship they have by just forgiving him. So that's 4-0 between Constantine and FotD. This brings us to the present with issue #101.

On the surface level, this appears to be a filler issue of some sort. John just came back from the hospital and some of his oldest pals took him out to watch the football game. And I never thought British football can be so volatile. These sports geeks really take their game and athletes seriously. The entire stadium therefore became a breeding ground for hatred and conflict to transpire, summoning a demon that relishes on the strife. John easily spotted said fiend and approached it. Their conversation was casual and a little passive-aggressive, considering John's reputation and that this demon doesn't give a fuck about it and would not hesitate to fight him if Constantine stands on its way.  For all of John's failings, he at least will always find a way to send demons back to where they belong and stop bothering the humans. This time, John actually allowed this demon to take its pick.

It bargained with the offer that it won't cause a mass hysteria and panic in exchange of John choosing one unfortunate sod to be the scapegoat. To me, John's compliance was uncomfortably too passive. Sure he had his moments when he didn't assist, either because he can't be bothered or because the situation itself is helpless. But this case showed that this John Constantine simply felt like he can't resist. He is a new person now after that nifty trick I mentioned earlier. This issue served as a good example to highlight that perhaps by dividing his good and bad side and sending that bad side to hell, John also lost his edge and his daring nature to fight back dark forces and save lives consequently. Oh yeah, have I mentioned he detached himself from his dark past like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing in issue #96? Now John is about to pay the price for his greatest cheat strategy that nulled his damnation to hell.

But what a steep cost it really must be as we will later see on in the next issue.


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