Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hellblazer #298 "Death and Cigarettes Part 1" - Review

My favorite cover of the week (Simon Bisley on art)

John Constantine has been a staple of the comic book world since his appearance in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. There's no magician in comics with more attitude, wit, and cigarette butts behind him. As the final arc of the long running series begins, Constantine finds himself dreaming about his death. He's cheated his way out of it before, but that was devils and demons, this time it's the Fates themselves that have chosen his time to pass.

Peter Milligan's run on the popular Vertigo Comics character has been debated, but I really do enjoy his portrayal. It reminds me of the natural continuation of the Constantine from the Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis runs, and even has some of that Jamie Delano flair mixed into it. This issue finds him actually giving into death, which is something we've never seen the character do before.

Constantine is known for being the world's best con artist. If there was a way out, he would have found it. Instead he accepts that death is coming and tells his wife, Epiphany, that there's nothing he can do to prevent it. Without giving away too much of the story, there are some pleasant moments between the two of them in what Constantine believes to be his last five days on Earth.

The artwork by Giuseppe Camuncoli is some of my favorite that the series has ever had. Camuncoli's art style, which is very cartoon-based, is expressive and fits well with the strange tone of the book. The artwork isn't afraid to get gory, violent, or even tender for that matter. Most of the opening of this issue feels like a movie or TV show opening, which really pulled me. The mixture of Camuncoli's art and Milligan's writing really does make the perfect pair for Hellblazer.

Hellblazer isn't going to be around for much longer, but John Constantine will be having a new DC Comics title called, wait for it . . . Constantine. I have mixed feelings about it, but on the whole I'm willing to give it a shot. My biggest fear is that it'll be a watered down version of the character, but so far I've enjoyed Constantine in Justice League Dark. Jeff Lemire has brought new life into the book and it kind of feels like a Vertigo title without really being one.

If you're not familiar with Hellblazer and you like twisted stories of horror and magic, I recommend picking up any collection or issue. They're recently re-releasing and numbering the trade paperbacks, and it's the perfect time to become familiar with him before the character gets his new DC series.

Rating: 8.5/10