HellBlazer #4

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 15, 2010 by fbombcast

HellBlazer 4

Cover Date: April 1988

Writer: Jamie Delano

Artist: John ridgeway

Letterer: Annie Halfacree

Colorist: Lovern Kindzierski

Editor: Karen Berger

It has been a couple of weeks between issue 3 and issue 4 on the blog and for that I apologize, the original plan was for this to be weekly and every tuesday at that, but something came up. I would love to tell you that what came up was life getting in the way, or planning for New York Comic Con, or doing things with my family but the truth is that was not the case. What caused such a delay in between reviews was the shear hatred i felt for Delano as a writer after reading issue 3. I had no urge to want to open up the long box and dig out the next couple of issues, never mind the fact that i will need to grin and bear his lazy plot devices and instilling his beliefs on a character without letting the character become his own person for almost 30 more issues.

This issue starts out with a lonely girl on a jungle gym. Being rather introspective we learn of her parents that religious sect that is extreme in their belief in God and brainwashing of their followers. Sadness has creeped into the girls heart due to the isolation that this religious cult has caused her parents to impart on her.

Flash to London for the next bit and we see an ever indulgent Constantine Gambling, Playing, Pool and drinking up a storm. Chas is with him and he is obviously using his magic for nefarious gains. After leaving the bar, John realizes the one Vice he hasn’t yet indulged this evening so he goes looking for some companionship. When he turns the corner, he Finds Zed.

Upon meeting Zed, Constantine realizes that they not only share the need for the same carnal pleasures but also the ability to use Magic for whatever the hearts want.

Next we flash back to the little girl on the swing set. She is confronted by three girls that are slightly older than her and she is just happy that she may have just a little companionship. Like any other cult, these girls can sense the loneliness in this ones heart and offers her the promise of friendship and freedom from a life of despair, something this girl has been craving since her parents joined the über religious group that they are now with. She goes with these girls to become the Wife of the one that cares for them.

Back in London John and Zed quickly get through the getting to know you stage and end up back in her apartment. To lighten the mood with a little mood music, Zed decided to turn on the radio, and in some of the laziest use of plot device i have ever seen, Magically (which is possible since this is hellblazer), her radio picks up the local police scanner that reports of the girls kidnapping. Surprise, surprise… It is Constantine’s niece and he and Zed head to the country to help find her.

There really is not much more to get into here. Constantine goes to the country where the religious crusadres are set up looking for the girl, they only put up a slim fight against John’s use of Magic to try and find his relative, even though the whole book it seems that they are these fanatics that would stop at nothing to keep this sort of “black arts” out of their little town. Constantine and Zed end up in the pedophile’s den on despair where he keeps his child brides and performs his satanic rites in order to procure more. Constantine is overmatched, but with the help of Zed he is able to defeat the big bad. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

I can’t believe this book lasted almost 3 years with Delano writing it. He is lazy; Doesn’t know how to fit a story into one issue, as was the trend back then, without the extreme use of Deaus Ex Machina, and only knows how to characterize his own beliefs within that characters that he is writing. The ending of this issue even felt like there was more to tell, yet the last panel said The End.

The feeling i get from this issue is that he was criticizing religious fanaticism, which is better than painting a whole set of political beliefs like he did in Issue 3 but still can Delano get away from these things. Almost 30 more issue of this guy writing this character, here’s hoping it gets better.

Hellblazer Issue 3

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2010 by fbombcast

Hellblazer Issue 3

Cover Date: March 1988

Writer: Jamie Delano

Artist: John Ridgeway

Colorist: Lovern Kindzierski

Letterer: Annie Halfacree

Editor: Karen Berger

So the start of a new story and the beginning of the demise I have with Jamie Delano’s writing.

I have no problem with authors putting their political beliefs in the pages of the comic they are writing. I don’t have a problem with people disagreeing with me. But i do believe that it is lazy writing. Brian Bendis tweeted recently “If the writer is doing his job the antagonist and protagonist have both expressed their desires perfectly.” This was in respnse to those critising Brian for the views that he put into his new creator-owned book at Marvel, Scarlett. I could not agree with the statement more than i do.

Right form the cover we understand where Delano is coming from. If you take a quick look at the graphics, there is a zombified Magaret Thatcher head, as well as a sign that says, “Voting Tory will Damage your Health.” For those not up on your british political parties, the Tory party is also what is known as the Conservative party.

Right from the get go we see a man jogging and not being able to catch his breath. we then see two people appear next to him seeming to urge him on, finally causing the man to collapse and die.

The book then jumps to Constantine who  is on the scene to investigate what seems like a string of “yuppie” deaths in an area where they would not normally be found. Delano goes so far as to write narration saying ‘I am not here for social commentaries,” but then uses the entire book to preach to us who greed and capitalism and even simple profit is the work of the devil.

And then we get to the lazy coloring for the third issue in a row.

For those who don’t know the process of coloring a comic, it can be stripped to two basic steps. First is Flatting, and in comics now is the second step which is rendering (effects would be a third step.) comics from this time period where basically just flatted and not rendered. What this means is a base color is put in beneath the lines of the inker in order to add colors where it is meant to be.

Now look at the panel on the right. The top two-thirds of the page are either yellow or green, while the bottom third is fully colored. Would it have killed Lovern to throw in some flesh tones or different colors for the chairs or the clothing. It looks too simplistic and basically like someone who cannot get their work in on time or does not care about the presentation. I can not wait for her (or him, i do not know which) to be off this book so i no longer have to see this shoddy worksmanship.

We are then introduced to Blathoxi, the lord of Flatulance in hell. The plot is that Blathoxi has been acquiring souls because the market is High on them. This is because the conservatives are in power and human souls are hard to find. Profit is the only driving force now and that is already the work of the devil. What did i say about Delano getting preachy in this comic, wait, it only gets worse.

Constantine realizes that to save humanity he needs to broker a deal with Blathoxi and trick all of hell.

I think my main problem with this issue is coming to Hellblazer with a general idea of where the character is now and some random ideas of what has happened in his past. Constantine to me is a character that never really cared what the heck happened to the rest of the world as long as it benefitted him in some sort of way. If he was needed to help the world, he seemed to only do it begrudgingly. but in this issue he all of a sudden cares for all of humanity’s souls, and wishes the world was more equal.   But i have to remind myself that this is the beginning and all the stuff that i have come to know about the character has yet to happen.

Constantine leads Blathoxi to believe that the Left is going to win the election, and therefore begin the rebirth of the human soul, because of course all conservatives are soulless bastards. This causes Blathoxi to panic and sell and puts a panic into the entire soul market.

Constantine has worked his magic and Blathoxi has sold all of his souls back as well as the rest of hell.

Unfortunately for John, But in this bloggers opinion, fortunately for the rest of the world, Maggie Thatcher is reelected and Delano leaves the last panel for one final dig against conservatism, implying that the election is one of the many different roads to hell one can take.

Hellblazer Issue 2

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2010 by fbombcast

Hellblazer Issue 2

Writer: Jamie Delano

Artist: John Ridgway

Letters: Annie Halfacree

Colors: Lovern Kindzierski

Editor: Karen Berger

This issue continues the story that we began in issue one. we have the same cast of characters, Constantine, Lester, Papa Midnight. It leads off with John walking walking into Midnights club to fins the Voodoo master and enlist him and his knowledge to help with the defeat of Mnemoth. One would have thought that he may have asked this in issue one when he originally asked Midnight about the demon, but oh well, sometimes constantine is a little to quick on the trigger, and honestly this is something i love about him.

After going through the Dante’s inferno that is Midnight’s club, he is led to the zombie fight floor (everyone’s favorite of course) only to find out that Midnight has penned up Lester and not provided him with the heroin that his body craves.

Next scene jumps to the apartment that John is living in while in New York. it is here that he meets up with the gho

st of past cases.The coloring on these is rather interesting. Interesting because to denote a ghost the color artist simply decided to not color them. They didn’t add an effect. nor did they even really add a base gray, that just flatted the image around the ghost and left any color off them. This and the lack of a consistancy in color really gets me, i am truly beginning the think that Halfacree is a very lazy artist and it is no wonder i have not noticed her name presently.

While confronting the ghost the prominent speaker among them is a woman named Emma that we met in the previous issue. Just as in that issue, nothing is really revealed about this character, but through her interaction with John we are led to believe that they had some sort of relationship that was more than just friendly. I really wish Delano would offer more in the terms of backstory but i think given that this is not the main story, he must have felt that he just didn’t have the space to do it.

Flash to scenes of the streets of New York, and we get more flashes of swarms of bugs taking over people and causing them to have the insatiable hunger that Constantine is here to investigate in the first place. the narrator is the Demon himself and he speaks of the menace that he is causing and what he has in store for the future. Horrific images of people consuming massive of narcotics and getting so hungry they are eating their own hands.

Then the scene shifts back to Midnight’s den of inequity. The plan is finally laid out in front of us and we learn how they plan to stop the demon from killing all of the city. Lester is the bait since he is the one that unleashed the evil into the world. With his voodoo skills Midnight is going to attract the swarm into Lester and let the demon consume him, Lester will die, but luckily so will the bugs. Again Constantine proves that he his not the best friend to have, because if you get in the way of him and the case he is on, he is willing to sacrifice you for the good of the cause no matter  how close you are.

The only hint of humanity that John shows towards his friend is one last spike of heroin to help ease the massive amount of pain that Lester is about to go through.

The spell at first looks as though it is not working and we see the bugs consuming both magicians and the bait, but like a switch is thrown, the insect go after Lester and overtake his entire being.

At the end we get a sort of soliloquy from John, (and honestly that happens a lot in the title, a flash of insight within a narration box), about how Lester was on a self destructive path to begin with, how he already had insects consuming his body figuratively, in the form of heroin flowing through his brain. I think Delano gets a little full of himself sometimes and really like to use the things in his book as analogies for  real life circumstances. OKay i get it, A hunger that never goes away cause by a foreign substance consuming your body. It doesn’t take a moron to realize that he is talking about drug addiction and it is obvious that it hits a little home for him.

My other gripe with this issue, and this initial story arc is that it seemed a little too rushed. I don’t know if that is the product of me being used to drawn out six-12 issue stories now, or if i felt some of the stuff not pertaining to the story, like the emma stuff, that i was lost for anyway, was needed at all.

This story seemed to jump all over the place and i feel with maybe one more issue it could have been fleshed out better.

I still enjoyed it but just wish it was a little more. This last image is one of my favorite of the entire book. Nothing like a S & M ghost telling you to go fuck yourself.

Hellblazer Issue 1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2010 by fbombcast

Hellblazer Issue 1

Cover Date: January 1988

Writer: Jamie Delano

Artist: John Ridgeway

Colorist: Lovern Kindzierski

Letterer: Annie Halfacree

Editor: Karen Berger

So the journey begins, not just for me reading this book, but in terms of the book, the journey of readers of the time into the mind of what will become on of the stalwarts of the Vertigo universe, John Constantine.

The character was created by Alan Moore and first appeared within the pages of Swamp Thing #37 and was given his own series from there. That series started in 1988 and is still an ongoing monthly books today. That is approximately 22 years of stories. Not bad in a comic book world where mature titles come and go, and even major superheroes see there books wane and even cancelled.

This book starts with a scene in New York of a man with an insatiable hunger but yet his body seems to be withering away to nothing. From there we are brought to London and introduced-and I say that term very loosely (more on that later)-to John Constantine as he returns to his flat only to find a former friend and current heroin addict, Gary Lester, in a bath tub with bugs crawling all over him. This sets the scene for what readers can expect from this book. Fantastic tales of magic and mystery with horrifying images set to it.

The art in this book is fantastic. While I am a big fan of fully rendered colors that we are used to seeing today, one must step back to 1988 when that was not the norm, and honestly it fits with this title. I do not need the hyper-realistic coloring. What I need are images to disturb my mind that go along with the story that Delano is telling and Ridgeway does this wonderfully.

So Lester is in a tub and with a horrible case of withdrawal, never mind that he has bugs crawling all over him, what would a good friend do. One would first think of getting your friend help, Maybe the hospital, maybe a Rehab, Maybe just trying to find some friends and family . Well, if you think that is what is going to happen, you do not know John Constantine. You see his character and his attitude is basically all about what can help himelf without regard to his surroundings or the well being for those around him (save a very choice few). So it is through this sequence the we are introduced to Chas, Constantine’s friendly cab driver that helps him with the underground of the London streets. Chas has the hookups and provides Constantine with the one thing that will help him right now, a healthy supply of Heroin to get his friend cognizant so that John can figure out what is going on.

After the spike, Lester explains of a exorcism of sorts that he performed down in the Sudan, which quite possibly unleashed a horrible evil into the world. An evil named Mnemoth.

Without much more questioning John is on a plane traveling to learn more, in order to save the world from the demon that his former colleague has unleashed.

Once there, A shaman is met and Constantine goes on a powerful hallucinogenic-induced journey to learn of the atrocities of Mnemoth and what can and most likely will happen if he does not stop it.

We learn the destination of the Evil, New York, and off again Constantine is, this time with Lester, to find an old friend and powerful magician, Papa Midnight.

Very little is explained of midnight except that he and constantine have crossed passed before. We learn that e uses Zombies for body guards and through his speech and his look we can only assume that his main source of magic is the ancient practice of Voodoo.

New York is still suffering from the problem of the insatiable hunger as more and more people are getting rabid for meat yet unable to stop from wasting away. People are found just going through the streets eating whatever they can.

This page illustrates one of the problems I had with this book. The coloring. While it is fine that the page is not rendered (as stated before I actually prefer it for this type of title), what is not fine is inconsistency of color choices. If you look at the infected’s face you can see that it goes simply form the normal peach color of a caucasian’s skin tone to that of Bright red, almost instantly, and then lighter int he final panel. as a colorist, especially a professional one, you are supposed to keep a guide handy in order to make sure that you have such consistency, I doubt that Lovern Kindzierski used such a normal tool that should be in the colorist toolbox. there are other examples where in one panel Constantine has the Wheat like blonde hair that we will come to expect from the character (except in the fantastically mis-cast movie that had Keanu Reeves play him), and then out of no where he has hair a shade of pea soup green. this is very unacceptable for a professional colorist.

Constantine, through his dealings with the shaman in the Sudan, and from Papa Midnight, learns that Mnemoth is fully to blame and searches the demon out to confront him and send him back to the depths of hell from which he came. But alas, Mnemoth is too strong and the issue ends with John realizing that he needs to enlist the help of his friends to take this one out.

I had two issues with this comic. The first was that as a number one issue I think it failed miserable. While I enjoyed the issue and liked the story, I got the strong sense that I was being dropped into the middle of a universe that was created years ago (prior to this issue) and it was my job to figure it out. There were issues mentioned with John’s now dead girlfriend, I assume, Emma, and her ghost later shows up, but there is no explanation as to who she really is or what her character’s role was with our lead. Papa Midnight seems to have a big role, yet besides the couple of panels he is in, there is almost no history or anything given to the character. If I was starting this with issue 13 or even five I would expect this, but in no way do I expect to be dropped like this in a number one issue.

My next issue has more to do with the coloring. Besides the one already mentioned of the inconsistency, there seemed to be weird decisions made with the coloring of narration boxes. If you look at the three panels in the example on the right you would see that the narration box switches from blue to yellow. I automatically assume that the new color denotes a new voice or new character speaking, but this is not the case. it is all constantine all the time. and this is not the only example of it. This coloring choice is seen throughout the book.

When I read a comic, I want to be drawn into the world. I want to forget my surroundings and think only of what is on the page and let the story play out in my mind, but it is things like this that make my mind think a bit too much and draws me out of the story in front of me. If I have to think about who is saying what, and not just of the story as it is written then in my mind you have failed.

Those tow minor issues aside, I really did enjoy this story and cannot wait to get back to you with issue two next week.

Hope you enjoyed my first step into Hell.

TJ

Welcome to My Nightmare

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 14, 2010 by fbombcast

Hello world. Welcome to my journey down the dark side of the DC universe and the depths of Hell with the likes of Master Magician, chain-smoker, and wonderfully british curmudgeon, John Constantine.

A little bit about me and the intent of this Blog.

I am a comic fan (obviously) and a podcaster (co-host of the F BombCast). I have many quircks, almost too numerous to list, but one of my main ones is that I like to start things from the beginning. Imagine my friends’ surprise when they heard I picked up an issue of Hellblazer some months back when it is on Issue 260-something. The truth is I have always heard of this book, and even picked up an issue or two when I first started reading comics in the early 90s, but never fully got engrossed by it. But one thing kept dragging me back to try it again and again: Constantine’s Attitude (hence the name of the blog.) This last time it stuck and i have been buying it ever since. Due to the completist nature within me (and I believe this is a trait of most comic fanboys and girls), I needed to go back to the beginning.

The hoarder in me awoke as I started to compile back issues of Hellblazer, yet not reading them. I had it in my head that I wanted to get them all before I started so a long box was started and I now have 196 of the almost 270 issues of this fantastic Mature Readers series. Not bad for only about 6 months of collecting.

I kept meaning to start but never did, but now, with the help of your urging dear readers, I plan to commence my decent into the underworld that is Hellblazer.

The plan is at least an issue a week, with visual reference and scans to help the review along. Thank you for taking a look, and I hope you enjoy.

TJ

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