Hell Eternal

June 6, 2008

Jamie Delano is an experience. He has given the comic world more consistently than a whole lot of other writers well-grounded depictions of the dark heart of Anglo-American civilisation. After 2 decades, his inaugural run on Hellblazer remains the standard for characterising the quintessential booze-and-chums-hugging clueless working-class hero. His Outlaw Nation, that ill-fated and under-appreciated classic, is an epic family saga that uses the road as its metaphor for brutally dissecting a century of the spirit of White America.

If Delano can do sprawling episodic narratives, he can also do the opposite, cut that small gem you can hold at the tip of one finger. Hell Eternal, in less than 65 pages, manages astonishingly to capture the distinct diseases eating away at the core of not one but 2 vast terrains, both deep-land Britain and America. The story follows 3 young and bright Britons in what seems at first to be an ordinarily eccentric struggle for domestic power. Lesbian goth Anne’s relationship with bisexual femme fatale Sarah turns around irredeemably when amateur White supremacist David enters their lives.

Then, in a twinkling of an eye, the tale becomes something else altogether. The connections between sex and gun violence take on an intensifying life-destroying symbolism: which should rise to be the meaning for which? We are steadily forced to observe Delano’s blunt critique of both creative but naive British youth counter-culture and the ruthlessness of the hard conservative White culture of armed America. Be warned: the world of this book will haunt you long after you put it away.

Gweek gives this nightmare 9 rounds through the heart.


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