Story: Mike Carey
Art: Leonardo Manco
first page you know this is going to be fun: there's a hulking
bruiser crouched in a public toilet over a terrified middle-aged
man he's tied up and gagged and laid out on the cold hard
tile. The bruiser's got a gun, but he puts it away and gets
out a knife. "I hate guns," he says. "Killing
someone with a gun -- that's like shagging
with a rubber on."
has been gallivanting all around the world and he's finally
ended up in London with nothing to do. Good job, too, because
if you remember last issue, you know he doesn't: amnesia,
son. It's the stuff of soap opera plots, but it makes for
the best opening to a Hellblazer story arc in a long
didn't quite get back to normal after the near-apocalypse
of last issue. As the credits were rolling there was still
a lot of cleanup to be done, much of London and presumably
the world tending to those dead and wounded at the psychic
hands of the Beast. We get an idea of how bad it's been when
the first person Constantine meets is a little girl with extensive
burns calmly fishing in a waterway with a body floating facedown
in plain view. He takes her with him to the hospital, where
he attracts the dangerous attention of the aforementioned
staff quickly work out who Constantine is from his police
records, and while they are able to jog his memory, he can't
quite make the connection himself. See, there's someone else
in the hospital who doesn't want him to remember, and they're
willing to frame him for murder to prevent it.
so we know he's going to get his memory back eventually, and
he's been to prison once for murder so it's unlikely to happen
again, but still, this is the sort of horror -- specific,
character-driven, disorienting -- that belongs in this series.
can look good as a top-of-his-game occultist in a trenchcoat
fighting ancient evil, but
it takes a Constantine to lose his memory and end up between
a psychic, psychotic killer and a demon with a grudge and
still be a sure bet to finish first.
seems especially trenchant this time around, with some good
double meanings you might miss the first time around. Leonardo
Manco takes over the art just in time, giving the scenes a surreal
tilt with sharp lines and nightmare camera angles.
Story and Art: Rod Espinosa
been a brief intermission since the previous volume, but it
feels like we've never been away. Page two is another of those
breathtaking full-page panels, a fleet of airships gliding
into a mountain valley like enormous, airborne Portuguese
men o'war. After some of the claustrophobic shadowy horror
comics and the fire-and-spandex superhero sagas I read, a
book with art as bright and expansive as this is music to
begins with the discovery of yet another pocket kingdom of
Neotopia, on the way to which the character development continues.
Nalyn is beginning to feel the pressures of command as she
struggles to keep discipline among the growing crew of tagalongs
and against the temptations and mesmerizing effects of the
ancient technology restored by Sergeant Philios.
kingdom turns out to be a tribe peopled by members of the
Elfirin race (the name says it -- we're supposed to read them
as elves). There's an Elfirin among Nalyn's crew, who suddenly
finds himself contrasting his Mathenian upbringing with the
arcane skills and traditions of the tribe. As usual, Espinosa
easily avoids being too heavy-handed or too casual with any
of his themes; though the elven tribe skirts the edge of cliche,
the narrative flow is natural and real.
there is more soul-searching by Nimn the brownie, I'm afraid.
It's beginning to feel a little twee and I hope Espinosa has
a plan for where this subplot is going. He has such a steady
hand with the rest of it that I don't doubt him here, but
man, I got fed up with Faerie
back when Books of Magic got its own series.
other thing I worry about is the looming Statue of Liberty
in the background of the cover illustration. It sure looks
like we're leading up to the sort of scene where Charlton
Heston would sink to his knees on the beach railing against
the "damn dirty apes." This sort of explicit connection
really isn't necessary, since the analogies are obvious enough,
but it might not be too big of a letdown if handled with as
much grace and subtlety as the rest of the story.