The Hellblazer #19 – Tim Seeley, Writer; Davide Fabbri, Penciller; Christian Dalla Vecchia, Inker; Carrie Strachan, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Last Page Reveals an Unexpected Guest Star
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: The creative teams on Hellblazer have been all over the place, with Seeley taking over for one arc, being replaced by Richard Kadrey, and now back to Seeley with Hellblazer #19. I’m not complaining because Seeley’s delivered the most consistently intriguing Hellblazer stories since the Vertigo era. However, this one picks up directly from plot events from four months ago, which isn’t ideal. The issue opens with Constantine helping a woman escape from the world’s most incompetent vampire – he’s so squeamish he tries to take blood with a syringe and then taking her back to his pad. But there’s just one problem – ever since breaking up with his ex-lover Margaret Ames, John’s been suffering from erectile dysfunction. He figures the only way to fix it is to pay her a visit, but she might be having a worse time than he is. Frequent visits to a priest, and an endless, burning fire in her home, for instance.
Exploring her home, John encounters an old nemesis and finds out that Margaret has become a pawn in an elaborate plot involving a fake exorcism, a gangster priest, a transgender gangster, and…Huntress? There’s a lot going on in this issue, and while it doesn’t feel exactly Vertigo-esque – the pace is much faster – it does feel true to the spirit of Constantine’s world. He shouldn’t be fighting anything Superman or even Batman would fight. He should be going after the most disturbing, twisted creatures in the universe, in a world that can steal your soul with one wrong move. Seeley’s made Constantine feel like a dirty grindhouse mage in a haunted London again, and that’s what I’ve been seeking from the character since he made his return to the DCU after Blackest Night. It doesn’t hurt that Davide Fabbri does an amazing job with the creepy and surreal, either. I’m hoping this creative team is here for the long haul now.
Corrina: Seeley has a good handle on John’s essential personality: he can do things to help people but he’s also selfish and amoral. Thus, giving him a problem with erectile dysfunction serves him right, whatever the cause. (And it is possibly a symptom of an inner morality? Hard to tell with this character.)
When reading a Constantine story, I need a reason to be on his side, whether because he’s doing something to help others (on purpose or not) or an enemy so vile that I want bad things done to them. Obviously, we’ve got the right sort of enemy here, especially one that possesses Margaret, leaving Constantine in the position of trying to save the essential soul inside the demon possession. (This being Constantine, that may not end well for him and Margaret in any case. While that’s to be expected, I do grow weary of people dying around him so he can feel guilty. Let’s hope that’s not the case here.)
Huntress’s appearance was unexpected but there’s always been a religious-based edge to the character. (She does wear a cross on her costume after all.) Unfortunately, we’ve seen little of that faith with this rebooted Helena, who has been more of a spy and assassin rather than a force for righteous vengeance. So she sorta fits in a Hellblazer story but it does remind me that while there is a Helena Bertinelli in the DC Universe again, I wish this version had more in common emotionally with the one who was clearly Catholic and would belong more in this plot.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.