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Hellblazer #188
Story: Mike Carey
Art: Doug Alexander Gregory

This issue concludes the "Bred in the Bone" two-parter, and, well, remember what I said about "real and sinister darkness"? Spoke too soon.

There's almost nothing here but exposition. We find out what happened when Constantine and his associates originally came to Gruinard Island and got what they were after. We find out what lives on the island now (and they're more adorable than scary). And we get to see Gemma, almost
by accident, prove out her Constantine blood.

This ought to have been at least tense and creepy if not actually scary or horrifying, but when I was a kid I had a ViewMaster adaptation of Dracula with more drama. It's hard to feel that Gemma is ever really in danger, or to care about anyone who is hurt or killed, or even to come to grips with any of the vaguely sketched occult underpinnings, and without these elements, is this really a Hellblazer comic?

The good news is that the script is cool and sharp, and the art is absolutely terrific, a little easier to understand than last issue. So there's still the sense that both writer and artist have the chops to tell the Constantine stories we want to read. It's just that Carey thus far hasn't dared to cut more than skin deep.

This book isn't just about winning all the time, and looking cool with a cig and a trenchcoat. It's about getting your hands dirty, taking risks, using luck and skill to win but also making sacrifices and accepting the consequences. In the old days, those consequences changed
Constantine's life, and we were in his head when he realized what he'd done. Now, it seems, fat
chance of either.

Oh: there's a little exchange at the end, partially lifted from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the
, with yet more foreshadowing. Let's hope the bite starts getting worse than the bark.


Namor #6
Story: Bill Jemas
Script: Andi Watson
Art: Larroca / Miki / Smith

Last issue I grumbled about overly familiar threads that this issue unravels and weaves into more complex patterns. There are several moments where Watson leads us down a predictable road that ends with a surprise detour, and each time it enriches the story and adds dimension to the characters.

Until now it's been easy to forget that Namor is half human, but this issue illustrates the point with elegant subtlety. We learn more specifics about Sandy's father's financial situation, and what the promise of Atlantean oil really means for him and his family.

Namor meets Sandy's parents, immediately alienating one and finding an unlikely friend and ally in the other. And we find that the simplistic confrontation that seemed to be on the way probably isn't, at least not in the expected form.

It's still an eerily quiet series. All the action takes place on a purely social level so far, and beyond that the scenes still feel like one still photograph after another, without the illusions of motion we've come to take for granted in most mainstream comic art. But slow and steady wins the race, and I intend to sit back and stop trying to guess where the finish line will be.


Andrew Simchik


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