Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hellblazer by Paul Jenkins issue #106

We're now getting the two-part story entitled In the Line of Fire for this issue, and it's also the title for the tenth volume collection of Hellblazer. This story arc is shorter than I would have expected but the first installment was compelling enough already in itself so I didn't mind the brevity. In fact, if Jenkins sticks to his landing at the very end then this can be a very memorable arc indeed. 

The premise is simple and relatable enough: the opening pages recounts flashbacks about a soldier from the second World War who longs to come home to his sweetheart. We get narrative boxes explaining that the only reason he survived and endured for so long was because of love. Sappy, unoriginal and common, maybe, but it was definitely still earnest and moving to read about. Old-fashioned romance, after all, is so rare these days in our generation that I can appreciate this kind of old-school approach. But since this is a Hellblazer story we're talking about, shit hits the fan by the second act.

John Constantine was making nice with old friends, an elderly couple, while in a suburban-esque neighborhood somewhere in England, I'm assuming. They're flats squeezed together and a racist landlord apparently wants to evict some blacks because that's what every racist piece of shit wants. Everything seems to go well enough for Constantine until he feels an energy of a place that is not supposed to be there, hiding in plain sight.

Like a magnet once more to anything occult-related, he was pulled to investigate further. It turned out that the residence he was mucking around in belonged to that World-war soldier fellow from the flashback pages who apparently managed to get home safely against all odds and injuries---but never got to marry the love of his life. And a bitter life of disillusionment and despaired followed, right until the moment he hanged himself. Constantine witnessed this tragic event through a telepathic connection and it almost made him literally suffocate as well as if he was the one with the noose around his neck. Nothing like secondhand suicide to help you put things in better perspective, innit?

John ran out of the flat, still gasping for air and relief. He was definitely bothered with that poor soldier's sob story. Now when this issue began, it was pointed out specifically that none of the people in the neighborhood can see this haunted flat. But I suppose after John visited it and experienced the ghost of that horrid past, he must have somehow unlocked it and made it visible to the normal eye. And one of the people that finally took notice was that racist landlord I mentioned. He approached John and told him to give the owner this eviction notice. And that's how this issue ends with that ominous cliffhanger.

I don't really know why readers should care about what happens to that flat because I personally believe it might set the spirit free if he is no longer anchored to a place. But based from Constantine's reaction, I suppose that is not the case (?) Anyway, I'm looking forward to what happens next then for second and last installment. I have yet to see John do anything proactive since he just got in touch with his dark side in Difficult Beginnings so it would be pleasant to see him doing something productive and helpful to the human race; in this case for a lonely ghost who just needs peace and closure from his personal tragedy.


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