Friends Like These...
Advance Review: Hellblazer #189
writer: Mike Carey
artist: Marcelo Frusin
long-running story to work, it has to be accessible enough
for new readers to jump right in, without boring old fans
with repeated exposition. It helps when an established character
has a back story easily summarized in a sentence or two and
then everybody can move on.
case of the bitter Brit John Constantine (does anybody actually
call him Hellblazer?), he's so simple that he can be adapted
into film and played by Keanu Reeves, and really, it may not
be nearly as painful as it sounds. Why? Because at the heart
of the character, it just comes down to this: he dabbles at
the edge of magic, and everybody around him gets screwed.
Oh, yeah, and in the bigger scheme of things, it's usually
for the best.
no grown-up Harry Potter. For Constantine, there's a Voldemort
lurking around every corner, and it doesn't matter how many
he's beaten in the past.
excitement (?) grows about the Hellblazer film, actually
called Constantine for now, DC offers up #189 - that's
a lot of friends getting dragged down to Hell. But you don't
need to know that, as Mike Carey understands what makes a
Constantine story work. Though the scruffy mage is clearly
a major player, we need to get hooked by the horror first.
hooks us, giving us little glimpses of madness, daring the
reader to find the pattern. If you've seen this sort of thing
before, then you're no stranger to Constantine's world. And
if you're new, welcome to it.
arc, "Staring At The Wall," introduces a group of magi gathered
together in a ruined building. Clearly, they know each other
by some name, though Carey later makes a point that of course,
in magic, names are too powerful to be tossed about lightly.
Though we may not know them, they all know Constantine, whether
by reputation or unpleasant experience. (For the record, only
Zatanna, not included here, seems to have had any pleasant
experiences with the guy.)
they fit in the grand scheme of things is only hinted at,
as Carey shifts the action to an insane asylum, and an innocent-seeming
young woman who also knows Constantine. Of course, the emphasis
should be on "seeming."
also hideous cruelty to animals, random murdering, and a large
shadow wolf. In all, a good start to a horror story, and if
any of these characters have appeared before, it doesn't matter.
Carey gives us everything we need to know.
this new storyline is a new artist, Marcelo Frusin, clearly
of European influence. This book has had a lot of classic
illustrators on it, but Frusin just might make a mark. Penciling
and inking, his work has a few manga elements to it, particularly
in Constantine himself, but overall carries the feeling of
DC's horror stories of the early seventies, when artists like
Berni Wrightson and Alfredo Alcala curdled our senses. (It's
media will be paying attention to Hellblazer as the
film nears release. If you're not already reading, this makes
an excellent place to start. I'm hoping it follows through.