Archive for John Constantine

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.

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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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