The Hellblazer #22 – Tim Seeley, Writer; Davide Fabbri, Penciller; Christian Dalla Vecchia, Inker; Carrie Strachan, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: A Lot Going On In Hell
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: We now know that Hellblazer is coming to an end with issue #24, as the series is missing from the August solicits. Tim Seeley, who has written two of the last three arcs in the series, is bringing it to the finish line with a tense, horrific arc as all of John’s past deals and betrayals come back to haunt him in Hellblazer #22. Flipping back and forth between the gritty reality on the ground and the surreal goings-on in an otherworldly hellscape, Seeley is fully embracing the horror aspects of the character in a run that’s bigger and more over-the-top in places than the Vertigo run, but still following its style very closely. The issue opens with a segment that shows how Constantine thoroughly screwed over a demon, Nergal, once upon a time – luring him to a horrible fate in heaven. That’s just one of the many people who Constantine has angered over the years, and now they’re colluding against him in the plot that has targeted Margaret Ames as the host for countless demons.
The double-page spread showing all of the victims of Constantine’s various double-dealings is great, but the reality on the ground is much tenser and intimate. Huntress and Constantine, uneasy allies at the best of time, are met with a horrific sight when they find a young vampire strung up for torture practice for the local gangs – he’s unkillable, after all – and have to decide what to do with him. Seeley probably wrote this version of Huntress the best in his Grayson run, so he handles her well here – balancing her ruthless nature with her authentic grief over her family and her religious faith. The issue is a little bit hard to follow when it comes to the villains because there’s a good amount of body-swapping going on and characters appear in multiple forms. However, the story overall is very strong and leaves you with a genuinely unsettled feeling. This is how you do Constantine in the DCU without watering him down.
Corrina: First, what I liked: the insight into Huntress. It’s been a long while since her past has been delved into with this kind of emotion. I know we’ve seen Helena’s mother in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey but ,here, we delve into what made Helena Bertinelli unique among heroes–like Daredevil, she carries a Catholic view of the world. Sins and forgiveness mean a great deal to her. Her story about her father’s forgiveness felt like the first glimpse of that Helena in ages.
I wish I could say I enjoyed the rest of the issue as much but there’s so much going on, with the vampire, with the possession, with the flashbacks, with the visit to the otherworld, that it became confusing. What is clear is that all of Constantine’s sins came back to haunt him–except it’s not him who is paying the price, it’s his ex-lover, who seems utterly helpless. We have no insight into her pain, only Constantine’s, and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.