HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Comics Today's Date:

Hey Kids! Comics!      

Hellblazer #189
writer: Mike Carey
artist: Marcelo Frusin

Here's a quiz to evaluate whether you are new enough to Hellblazer that everything Derek says about #189 applies to you:

ME: "Hey, did you hear they're making the movie with Keanu Reeves as Constantine?"

a.) YOU (shrugging): "Well, he's doing okay in The Matrix."
b.) YOU: "You have got to be kidding me. Couldn't they at least have gotten a Brit?"
c.) YOU: "I heard the news months ago, child. The circles are drawn and the sigils inscribed. That film will never see the inside of a theater."

Did you answer (a)?

Go buy #189 and don't bother backtracking and you might actually like the movie, assuming the freakshows who answered (c) are just harmless geeks and not, y'know, for real. Because if this were all you knew of Hellblazer, it wouldn't be half bad. It would be like thinking David Bowie debuted in 1983 with Let's Dance.

If you didn't answer (a), you probably have some idea of what used to keep John Constantine interesting as a character and not the increasingly abstracted archetype he has become in recent years. "He dabbles at the edge of magic, and everybody around him gets screwed" is
accurate enough, but it never used to be the whole story. Over the years he's become rootless, opaque, wandering the globe, goofing off in America, losing touch with the old friends who used to meet genuinely gut-wrenching ends, dwindling to a smile and a cigarette and an exasperating bravado.

Sure, Reeves could play that role. Ed Norton could play it better; at least he'd have a hope of convincing you he could tie his own shoe, let alone learn anything about black magic. But neither of them could tap what made the original Constantine compelling.

Here's the problem with the new-school Hellblazer so far: nothing bad happens to John Constantine anymore and no one we care about gets in real trouble. Nothing is at stake and the man never loses his cool, so we're never really scared. It's that simple.

#189 is starting up an old-school plot -- an ancient demon will plunge the world into unspeakable evil unless it's stopped -- but the character dynamics are strictly new-school. It's true that Carey's story is kind to the new reader, and to be honest Hellblazer continuity is long enough that I confess I don't even remember whether Constantine has a soul anymore. (At one point he distilled his more human qualities and divorced them from himself, and I can't recall offhand what he did with them. If he never got them back, that would help
explain his present vacuousness.)

I was kind of hoping that the ancient evil would be a little more along the lines of Nyarlathotep or old Cthulhu hisself than a big wispy wolf, but I could forgive that if the good guys were more sympathetic. When the random murder happens, it has near-zero impact, because we barely know these characters, let alone like them.

At least the craft is still adequate. Carey matches the line he cribbed from Douglas Adams last issue with another riff that only a total Monty Python geek like me would even notice, and there are some lame meta-references that pulled me out of the story at times, but in general the writing works well enough for an expository issue. There's a whiff of Gaiman about the proceedings, particularly in the opening montage and the introduction of our eccentric Magnificent Seven, understandable in a guy who ran with the Lucifer baton.

Having Marcelo Frusin back on board is the best thing about this issue, because in addition to providing terrific, expressive art in general he also draws one hell of an hourglass figure.

So I can't say there's anything catastrophically wrong with the Mike Carey Hellblazer in general and this issue in particular. It's just that there isn't enough right yet. Carey's getting the dark fantasy rolling and that's cool, but if he wants to make it horror he needs to stop pulling his punches and give Constantine something to lose.


Andrew Simchik


Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites