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Hellblazer #174

Posted: Sunday, August 4, 2002
By: Craig Lemon



Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Marcelo Frusin

Publisher: DC Vertigo


Moribund. Devoid of logic. Lacking in imagination. Stubbing its cigarette on the ashes of previous writers' work. All these comments have been uttered by myself in relation to the rest of Brian Azzarello's work on Hellblazer, and this issue is no exception.

It's plain to see from his work on this title that Azzarello has no affinity with the character of John Constantine - he's been a bit-player at best in his own title, sometimes so peripheral that he barely appears (as in this concluding storyline). At the time Az started, I seem to recall an interview where he said he wanted to get back to the man of mystery, to not show "The Adventures of John Constantine", but to show the effect he has on people around him. Certainly the effect these issues have had on me is as a superb insomnia cure.

You see, Alan Moore kicked it all off in the pages of Swamp Thing (pre-Vertigo days), with JC being a peripheral character, operating behind the scenes, you mostly saw the effects of what he did rather than what he did, and it worked so well. So why does it work so badly here? Is Azzarello just not as good a writer as Moore was twenty or so years ago? So why is 100 Bullets so acclaimed? To me, it's just that Az is not interested in the character as such, but mostly in crime, down-and-dirty, stories, and for some reason found himself on this title, having to figure this Brit character into his favourite crime mix.

DC claim that sales actually increased during Az's run? You know what? I couldn't give a shit. It is undeniable that Az has a sizeable fan base, and attracts customers to whatever he writes, it doesn't mean it's actually any good. Hellblazer the book is about John Constantine Hellblazer the character, and Az screwed it up.

It just hasn't worked. This comic does not work. This issue does not work. But Mike Carey is next, and from conversations he seems to have a handle on what JC is really about, I look forward to some superb stories, and if that means the book loses sales because people just don't get it, then I don't care...the book will be good again, and that is all that matters.

Waiting for John Constantine to step out of the shower and reveal the last 25 or so issues have been a dream...




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