Story: Mike Carey
Art: Marcelo Frusin
The final chapter in "Stations
of the Cross" opens in proper Hellblazer form.
John Constantine is stripped to the waist, gagged, hands
behind his back, and a bloody great demon with spiraling
ram's horns and a nose ring and a two-foot tongue is leering
at his captive and intoning "John Constantine is MINE."
The last issue was the set, and here's the
spike, a worthy payoff to what Carey's been setting up for
the past six or seven installments. The moustache-twirling
Ghant makes for kind of a cheap Snidely Whiplash two-dimensional
villain, but his untrammelled sadism serves the story well
as he challenges an assembly of demons and devils to invent
the most horrible torture possible for our antihero.
If there's a weak spot in this issue, it's
that the tortures are really not incredibly imaginative.
Not that we necessarily would relish the descriptions with
the ardor of Ghant, but it's disappointing that these sinister
beings, though elegantly realized by Frusin's linework,
can't make us squirm. There's no reason to get worried until
their boss shows up.
First of the Fallen is a somber chap, displaying little
of the diabolical sense of humor that made Garth Ennis's
take on him so appealingly awful. But Carey infuses him
with a deadly gravity, every word of dialogue falling like
a guillotine blade.
confrontation is terrific, and Constantine acquits himself
once again in a way that suggests that even without his
memory, he's the same trickster as always.
it's out of the frying pan and into the fire for the predictable
culmination. Speaking of typical Hellblazer, once
again Constantine manages to screw over everyone he's on
speaking terms with by this point, so the way is clear for
what ought to be a spectacular 200th issue.
has been speeding toward this with the subtlety and tease
of a bullet train, so we can only assume he's got something
killer in mind.