Saturday, 13 April 2013

Review Month - Hellblazer issue 260.

Hellblazer - Issue 260.

'The Long Crap Friday.'

Written by Peter Milligan.
Art by Simon Bisley.
Published by Vertigo.

Before we begin. If you are not from London this may be a little confusing. If you think Don Cheadle, Dick Van Dyke or Keanu Reeves makes a convincing Londoner please skip this page. Otherwise rent Snatch and then return? Many thanks.

Plus, it might help if you rent The Long Good Friday. The movie and this comic don't have much in common (apart from some upside down torture). But it's a pretty good London crime and gangster flick nonetheless.

John Constantine the crafty scouser is on the run from the police and some London gangland characters for seriously injuring a gangster's daughter who he got close to. Said daughter is in a magical coma and they kidnap Constantine's mate Chas and torture him. Our hero comes to save his mate and in the process wakes (magically again) the gangster's daughter who now has one over on him.

I have a few unread issues of Hellblazer that have sat there for a while waiting to get read. So I thought that this was as good an opportunity as any to have a gander at what I have been missing.

I have been reading the character since his introduction in Swamp Thing. There have been highs and lows but I have pretty much stayed true.

As we all know. Hellblazer in its current form has ended it's long run with Vertigo Comics. He has been pulled back into the New 52 DC Comics Universe. Initially in Justice League Dark and now in his own title called Constantine (excellent, party on). I have to admit to not reading these books. I was saddened by the Vertigo cancellation but as with most things in comics you learn to just sigh and move on. There will hopefully be a future for Vertigo, so you never know, he might pop up again.

In reading this issue you do kind of get a feeling that we are in the sunset of the series. The book is plotted well and the story serves it's purpose. It gets us from A to Z successfully. It has a horror edge and it is familiar Hellblazer territory. John seems to be the same character he always was. Milligan is always thematically the absolutely correct writer for this sort of non superhero book.


The dialogue is pretty clunky in places and seems a bit fake cockney. (I don't claim to be a cockney but I was born and brought up in a London borough so I feel that I can say that it is trying a little too hard). This is recognised by a barmaid who even makes reference to a 'Little wanker with a Guy Ritchie fixation.'

Is this a tribute by Peter Milligan to the likes of Danny Dyer, Eastenders, Vinnie Jones and the Ritchie Clan? Possibly. It may be that my narky criticism is a result of some carefully planted wind ups by Milligan. I hope so.  I normally love his writing and it would be a shame that this was written without irony.

I suppose only the writer could answer that because I sure as Tilbury Docks can't.

(See what I told you about Londoners).

I have to admit to being a little disappointed at the art. Normally great at covers Simon Bisley seems to be under performing here? Some of the shots of the dirty London streets look gorgeous and credit is due there but the actual faces seem a little similar and we kind of get two versions of John himself. At one point he almost looks like a yuppie? Speaking of yuppies I got a real Thatcher's Britain 1980s feel about this book (never an altogether bad thing as there were some great comic during those brow beaten days). But it may date it to an American reader?

I think my answer is that the book was (in a book with normally pretty high standards) good enough. I am gonna dive back into some more books and see how we get on. I might even try the New 52 book (I said might).

I am cattled so off for some Britneys.


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