Posted tagged ‘Hellblazer’

Review: The Bronx Kill

May 13, 2010

The Bronx Kill is Peter Milligan’s best comic in years, as well as being one of his most atypical.  He’s done some truly phenomenal books in the past (The Extremist, X-Statix, Shade the Changing Man) and has been writing a pretty good Hellblazer run for the past year, but generally he’s fallen flat every time he’s attempted a slightly more mainstream story (such as his runs on X-Men and Elektra).

So now we have a fairly low key missing wife story this is absolutely brilliant.  Martin Keane is an author whose sophomore novel was just released to scathing reviews.  But he has a new one in the works that has absolutely nothing to do with the family of policemen he comes from, or his grandmother that walked out on the family, or his great-grandfather who was murdered in the Bronx Kill for that matter.  He has spent his whole life trying to distance himself from his family’s legacy, and now he finds that its become his main source of inspiration despite his attempts to combat it.  Then when Martin’s wife vanishes one night he gets pulled into his family history even further, especially once he becomes the chief suspect.

Milligan here has created the first book that really justifies Vertigo’s new line of crime comics.  It’s also one of the best pieces of modern noir I’ve encountered.

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Review: Hellblazer: Pandemonium

March 2, 2010

It’s the 25th anniversary of my favorite character in comics, John Constantine.  In honor of this accomplishment Vertigo has released Pandemonium, and original graphic novel reunited the character with the first writer of his title, Jamie Delano (yes he’s an Alan Moore character, but Moore never wrote him outside of Swamp Thing).

Now Delano was pretty much responsible for making the character the basterd we all know and love today.  Moore’s Constantine was pretty much just a cryptic guy with an unfortunate  habit of getting his friends killed.  Delano gave him the his origins and made him political.  Course he also hasn’t written the character since he was raging against Margaret Thatcher.

Fortunately he’s able to write this as if he never left.  The story, pretty much Constantine goes to Iraq, gives him plenty to work with.  Delano covers the treatment of prisoners, British involvement in the war, the heightened security culture, and life in post invasion Iraq.  He also uses the setting as a means to bring back the demon Nergal, the primary villain of his run on Hellblazer.

Sadly the story stumbles a bit towards the end.  Delano pretty much throws out all of his criticisms of the war, and then when he’s done quickly wraps it up with a cliche gambling with the devil bit.  But then again, this is partly supposed to be an anniversary tale, and that does make a pretty good summation of the character.

Combine all that with career best art from Jock and you’ve got a fantastic work, showing just why this character has lasted so long (not to mention being the only original Vertigo book to last).

Review: Dead Men’s Boots

October 15, 2009

The latest Felix Castor novel (for US audiences at least) is an enjoyable supernatural mystery, albeit one that doesn’t offer much that’s new to the series.  “Fix” Castor is a freelance exorcist in a world in which ghosts, zombies, and werewolves have become fairly routine.  He’s also clearly modeled off of John Constantine, a character that Mike Carey wrote for years previously.  And I pretty much view this series as the stories he wasn’t able or allowed to tell while writing for Hellblazer.

This time around Castor is dragged into 3 cases at once.  First he’s investigating the sudden suicide of a colleague who had been working on the case of his career.  Then there’s the mater of a man on trial for murder whose claiming he was possessed at the time of the crime.  And in the background Castor has to fight to protect a demon possessed friend from becoming a paranormal lab rat.  

The multiple plot threads are all fairly strong but ultimately they don’t hold together quite as strongly as I would like.  Dead Men’s Boots makes for a decent perpetuation of the series, but Carey is definitely capable of better.

Review: Dark Entries

September 3, 2009

It’s been said elsewhere but it bares repeating, Dark Entries marks the low point in publisher marketing this year.  A little history is needed for this.  A few years back when Denise Mina was writing Hellblazer she managed to connect Vertigo with her friend, bestselling writer Ian Rankin.  Before too long word started to leak out of Rankin writing the book.  Then Vertigo started thinking of launching a line of crime books, and with Rankin already commissioned to write for them it made sense to launch the line on his name (which appears in a font roughly 5 times the size of the title).

The only problem, THIS ISN”T A CRIME COMIC!!!!!  It’s not even much of a mystery, despite the god awful “graphic mystery” logo on the cover.  Also worth noting, the title of this book comes from the name of a reality show that is central to the plot, however the plot description calls that same show “Haunted Mansion”.  Nice to see that people are paying attention.

OK, enough with the rant, what about the book itself.  It’s a pretty routine Constantine story.  There’s a haunted house, a damsel or two he fails to save, a few demons, and a lot of British snark.  Rankin also performs admirably for a first time comics writer.

The art from Werther Dell’edera suits the material well, but suffers at the begining because I’m guessing the first 40 pages or so were originally intended for the ongoing series.  There are pretty clear chapter breaks, and the art feels like it was inteded to be colored (later in the book the pages gain a lot more detail).

So, this is a pretty good Hellblazer comic and it seems better suited to a graphic novel format than it did a serial.  However, if you buy this expecting an Ian Rankin mystery you’re going to be very disappointed.