Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Chronic Review: Hellblazer # 268!
Hellblazer # 268
DC Comics - Vertigo imprint
Script: Peter Milligan
Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli
22 pages for $2.99
And here she is, the grand old dame of Vertigo. Sandman? Gone. Swamp Thing? Gone, then back, then gone, then back, and now gone again. Y the Last Man, Preacher, Transmet.....fuck, they're all gone. There's just Hellblazer.
For a little while, at least. Sales are hovering around the 10,000 level, which is absurdly low for a Big 2 book. Marvel would have pulled the plug years ago. Sure, they do (relatively) healthy trade sales, and that helps. I noticed they don't print Hellblazer on the usual glossy paper, either. It's on the old newsprint that is usually reserved for the DC Johnny titles. Perhaps that's helping to make the title more economically viable.
It would probably seem natural for you to look at this dying dinosaur and feel a little pang of melancholy. Don't.
Hellblazer does not need your pity. It's still around because the character is still as strong as ever, the stories are as strong as ever, the creative team is as strong as ever. Do not sleep on this book when you could just be reading it. For a little while longer.
The trouble in "Sectioned", of which issue 268 is part 2, is that John Constantine has finally gone shit nuts. He's been committed, he's being assailed with a freight train of phobias, he's cutting off appendages to still the voices in his head.
Pulsing beneath the surface is the unspoken recognition that something on the outside is causing all this. John, crazy bastard that he is, still lurks somewhere in there wondering what the hell is happening to him. There's still enough mage in there to try and enlist the help of Shade, the Changing Man, who should be very familiar to Peter Milligan fans.
Shade isn't the man he used to be, and he was pretty goddamned dangerous before. The issue ends with Shade demanding a kiss, which sounds about right, and next issue should be epic fun.
And that's why you should shed no tears for Hellblazer. She doesn't need them, because there's nothing wrong with her. There might be something wrong with the market. Nothing to be done about that. I will honor the book until it no longer deserves it. That old gray mare? She still kicks ass.