The Hellblazer #14
Writer: Tim Seeley
Art: Jesús Merino
Cover Art: Tim Seeley/Chris Sotomayor
Variant Cover: Yasmine Putri
Summary: Demons are afoot and Constantine is in their sights. Returning to times past will he find salvation or damnation at the bottom of a bottle? Knowing John, it’ll be a bit of both.
What You Need to Know: Last issue John was accused and then cleared (mostly) of murder. The night before John had a hazy, but seemingly crazy, night. A bit of magic and a kiss revealed dark forces were at work and we saw the introduction of two Norse demons with a penchant for drinking, manufacturing suicides, and stalking Constantine.
The Goings On: “The morning after” John has some breakfast and uses a little bacon fat to conjure up memories lost (add that to the list of cool things about bacon). During his trip down memory lane we learn two important things. One, we learn how he met Margaret, the officer from the issue before. Two, we learn a little more about the origin of our demons of drink. They ply their trade in mead and blood, literally it turns out. John finds himself drowning in both by the end of the issue. Drinking his way to the bottom of a bottle and through his regrets, he steels himself for what he knows he has to face – another life he’s ruined, the demons he doesn’t need to face. Reflecting on the ephemeral nature of lives that become memories, John waxes philosophical…….Then decides “f@^# it” and staggers into battle.
Thoughts, opinions and other musings: This continues to be a pretty solid arc. The story is interesting, definitely in John’s wheelhouse and hanging out in his neighborhood. Seeley hits many classic Constantine characteristics with a story that feels par for the course without coming off as overly trite. The demons themselves are interesting, it’s written well in the themes of Norse mythology, delves into some of the lesser known parts to pull out an interesting antagonistic couple for John. The story centers a lot around the dual nature of alcohol bring both inspiration and destruction, and Seeley marks the fineness, often blurredness, of the line between the two. This of course good backdrop for Constantine who seems to perpetually live on that line, and I expect a healthy amount of introspection regarding his own demons in the issues to come.
The art continues to be a good complement to the writing. Simple in some ways, but very expressive in others, the art conveys realism when it’s needed without being too detailed and fantastic horror where called for without being crass. Merino does a great job conveying a range of emotional reactions throughout the book. The art adds weight to the issue and many of the scenes without become overly burdensome. Seeley and Merino work very well together fitting the words to the pictures.
If I were to pick at one thing, at times the language affectations don’t flow that well, it feels like someone writing what they think an Englishman would sound like, and inconsistently. The language use didn’t really add much and in places made the monologue skip a bit rather than enhance it. But really that’s a minor complaint in the fact of so many positives.
Final Thoughts: The second installment of “The Inspiration Game” sees a little less action and a little more back story, but still delivers an engaging story. Things are looking more and more grim for John Constantine, but now he’s drunk and pissed off, so who knows what could happen at this point. But I’m looking forward to it!