One Mad Dog

[John Constantine: Hellblazer : The Devil You know] – (Jamie Delano, Richard Priers Raynor, Mark Buckingham, Mike Hoffman, Bryan Talbot, Dean Motter, David LLoyd)

“The Devil You Know Collects  issues  #10 to #13, Hellblazer Annual 1 and The Horrorist #1 and 2.

  • #10 “Sex and Death”  written by Jamie Delano with art by  Mark Buckingham and Richard Priers Raynor.
  • #11 “Newcastle: A Taste of things to Come”  written by Jamie Delano with art by  Mark Buckingham and Richard Priers Raynor.
  • #12 “The Devil You Know” written by Jamie Delano with art by  Mark Buckingham, Richard Priers Raynor and Mike Hoffman.
  • #13 “On The Beach” written by Jamie Delano with art by  Mark Buckingham and Richard Priers Raynor.
  • “The Bloody Saints” written by Jamie Delano with art by Bryan Talbot.
  • “Venus of the Hardshell” written and drawn by Dean Motter.
  • “The Horrorist” written by Jamie Delano with art by David LLoyd.

I have some of the same criticisms for this second Hellblazer edition that I had for the first. Firstly, the book really needs to include the crossover  “Swamp Thing” stories as without them things can get a bit confusing.  Secondly, the panel layout can also be a bit confusing at times, especially when the story is spread across two pages. Finally the monologues can be a bit to arty and self absorbing at times and the art is nothing special.

#10 to #12 form something of a story arc and are pretty good but the stories are a little pretentious in feel and can be hard work to read.  I actually found each subsequent issue to be more enjoyable and the title story of the book “The devil you know” was actually pretty good.  “On The Beach” is a seriously strange little story with a somewhat predictable ending but it was OK.

“The Bloody Saints”  is a strange Arthurian based tale with Constantine really only along for the back narrative. The story includes Merlin’s talking head on a spit which is a nice touch but it left me cold.  “Venus of the Hardshell” is a throw away pop video type tale that fills in a bit on Constantine’s back story but was nothing special.

“The Horrorist” is probably the strongest story in the book even if it is a little to surreal for its own good at times.  It can be a little confusing and quite hard work to read but it is the only story in the book that left me with the urge to finish it before putting the book down.

It is my opinion that the artwork in stories #10 to #13 is better that that in the first Hellblazer collection.  Although the color pallette is similar, the drawings are much crisper and pleasing to the eye. It does get a bit psychedelic at times especially in book #10. Bryan Talbot’s artwork is in “the Bloody Saints” is good  and is very reminiscent of the style in earlier Conan or Solomon Kane works.  I didn’t like the artwork in “Venus of the Hardshell” at all and its attempt to recreate pop culture didn’t work for me. The final story in the book, “The Horrorist”,  features the art style of David Lloyd which is characterized by washed out watercolors and pastels. I am really on the fence about Lloyd, he is certainly talented but his work isn’t really to my taste.  It usually takes me 4-5 pages to get used to the style and I find that sometimes it is difficult to figure out what is going on.

Volume 2 of the Hellblazer collection was OK but it was a book that I struggled to get finished. I planned to read it over a weekend but it lasted me a whole week. Its not a bad book but I found it hard work rather than pleasurable at times. [ISBN-13: 978-1401212698]. 6/10


[John Constantine : Hellblazer: Original Sins] – (Jamie Delano, John Ridgeway)
December 21, 2010, 7:39 am
Filed under: 7 stars, Hellblazer, Jamie Delano

“John Constantine: Hellblazer”  is a Noire horror comic book set in the 1980’s during the grip of Thatcher oppression. The central character, John Constantine, is apparently nothing more than a streetwise magician. Constantine is not however another “Jonathon Creek” and the things he deals with are altogether darker. “Original sins” is written like a hardboiled crime fiction book with a demonic twist and in common with these books, it relies quite heavily on the use of narration and inner monologue. It collects issues #1 to #9 of the series.

The TPB opens up with a great story about a demonic power that possesses people and fills them with an overwhelming desire for things they already crave. The first few pages where a fat man eats like there is no tomorrow but still ends up starving is amongst my favorite parts of the book. The rest of the stories in the book are a bit of a mixed bag and they can feel a bit disjointed at times. There is definitely a bit of Twilight Zone feel to them but with a more R rated theme. I didn’t really enjoy the Yuppie Demon story which was quite obviously another political rant. There are also occasions in the book where there were “Swampthing” cross over story lines that ended up being a bit confusing. DC should really have included the “Swampthing” episodes to maintain the continuity.

This is my first time reading Hellblazer and it is difficult for me to actually tie down John Constantine as he seems to be a pretty normal guy doing extraordinary things. I think it will take a few more volumes before I am comfortable with his character but he doesnt seem particularly likable.  He definitely sits on the fence of good and evil and doesn’t care which side he is fighting against. The Demon blood transfusion which occurs near the end of the book might well point to his powers for the future.

There are a lot of references to 80’s Britain in the book that perhaps overseas readers will not pick up on. It isn’t widely known outside of the UK just how hated Thatcher was by large areas of the UK population during this time. The portrayal of her as Nosferatu on the back cover is a nice touch.

The Art is nothing special in Original Sins and looks pretty dated. It is a typical 80’s comic book with a limited color palette and scratchy art work. It does the job and gets better as the book progresses. Some of the pages have a confusing layout with the panels stretching across two pages in a haphazard manner. A few times I had to reread several sections until I found the proper flow or had stuff spoiled by reading things out of order. The presentation is a bit of a mess at times.

Original sins is a bit of a shaky start to the series but it is still worth a read. [ISBN-13: 978-1563890529]. 7/10