Story: Mike Carey
Art: Leonardo Manco
though the main character still has amnesia, we can tell
the old Hellblazer is back. Halfway through the issue, a
guy Constantine's just met gives him a friendly hug, and
right away we know the guy's going to die, horribly.
affection, however transitory, for John Constantine has
always been a blank check for bad luck in this comic, sort
of like a reverse Judas kiss. Or, for a more fanboyish analogy,
it's like wearing a red Ensign's uniform while beaming down
to an alien planet with the Enterprise crew.
you look at it, the theme is the heart and soul of this
book, and Mike Carey's been leading up to its reinstatement
as a central theme for a number of issues now. This issue
has a lot more diversity in it than the flashy setup arcs,
starting and ending with Chas's family arguing as they prepare
for a post-near-apocalyptic vacation, and showing us glimpses
of the forces working to either save or damn the wandering,
wondering John Constantine.
intentions seem pretty clear -- Gemma, Angie, and a surprise
guest from the Trenchcoat Brigade on John's side, and a
demoness with a crib to die for working against him -- except
those of the homicidal maniac we met last issue, one Peter
Gill. He's puzzled by Constantine, and wants to know why
there's one mind closed to him when all others are suddenly
open, but he has a strange way of researching this topic.
finally hit his stride here, and while he rushed the last
storyline a bit, the setup has paid off. Leonardo Manco's
art continues to impress as well, combining the real and
the phantasmagorical with equal clarity and excitement.
is a two-parter, which is slightly troubling, because at
most one of these plot threads could really be resolved
in one more issue. But #200 is just around the corner, and
there's enough windup here to result in one hell of a pitch
by that point. Let's hope Carey -- and Constantine -- can
hit it out of the park.