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Hellblazer #187
writer: Mike Carey
artist: Doug Alexander

I must admit it's been a while since I've been able to care about Hellblazer continuity. It's a boring position to take, but I don't think the book's had any real heart to speak of
since the end of Garth Ennis's run years and years ago.

When Brian Azzarello took over the helm for a while, I got hooked again, but it was a different Constantine, a mystery man, a gambler, outgrinning the Joker. Azzarello wrote him some gripping plots, but I never worried about Constantine or wondered how he'd pull out of this one and what it would cost him this time.

When Mike Carey took over, it felt like he was just going to put some Paul Jenkins porridge (overly familiar mythologies and friends we don't care about) on the Azzarello hard-boil and stir until lukewarm, but with issue 187, the start of a new
two-parter, we're beginning to scent a bit of the real and sinister darkness Jamie Delano kicked
off the series with when John Constantine first went "solo."

It helps this impression that the story reunites us with Constantine's niece Gemma, who's rousted from a flophouse by the cops and bailed out by Ghant, an old and ruthless associate of her uncle.

Intercut with these scenes is our introduction to Gruinard Island, the site of an ill-fated
earlier expedition shared by John and Ghant, also the home of a trio of unusually hungry
young teenagers and some foreshadowing about dinner. It's hard to tell where the past ends and the present begins, what with the shadowy and blunt-edged artwork of Doug Alexander, but this is in part the point as yet again Constantine's past appears poised to catch up with him or his loved ones.

It would be nice to feel that we are leading up to something big, a major story arc that brings Carey's hints of something-wicked-this-way-coming to fruition, but so far this is only the appetizer.

Still, the flavor is right even if it's not yet hot enough to eat.


Andrew Simchik


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