John Constantine, Hellblazer: Original Sins

January 16, 2009

hellblazer-1The life of Vertigo’s longest-lasting flagship title begins here, in Original Sins. If you ever need proof that Jamie Delano is more than a meticulous plotter and a soulful lyricist as a great storyteller first, this volume will blow your mind. There is no single tale that anyone with a good ear will deem imperfect — that is, assuming that you are at least a secret horror lover. Walking straight out of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing in 1988,  John Constantine finds ready misadventures that begin with the frightening concurrent arrival of the Lord of the Flies, the demon of hunger, in London. To stop this force of evil, the magus employs his regular repertoire of specialist occult knowledge, deep-end research, obscure worldwide contacts, and wry poker-face betting against falling chips. Eventually, London is saved, but Constantine triumphs yet again at the cost of the eternal life of someone close.

In fact, by the volume’s end, a few more friends will have died, establishing for us this hellbound anti-hero’s alluring trademark in modern comics. Original Sins, which collects the first 9 Hellblazer issues, introduces readers to not just the series’s signature metaphysical world but also an era of life in Thatcherite Britain and post-Vietnam middle America. Hunger is but the opening sign to a range of decadent modern appetites Delano explores, from the love of money and high yuppy living to paedophilia and religious megalomania. That’s a lot to put between two covers, and you’ll meet subsequent key chess pieces: Papa Midnite, Constantine’s demonic nemesis Negral, his string of doomed friends, and a Sudanese shaman who writer Andy Diggle will centralise almost 2 decades later.

Delano nails the definitive portrait of the cursed Laughing Magician: a smart highly exploitative individual who is a humanist at heart, an opportunist with moving deep-seated conscience. His sacrilegious thwarting of a new immaculate conception, beating the divine host (surely the original Alpha male) to the chosen virgin and his expedient acceptance of demonic blood may disturb some. Then, there is his battle against the charismatic Resurrection Crusade with its Messianic ambitions  and the anarchic bullying Damnation Army, extremes that provide useful space for obvious social commentary. Check out too the rather entertaining prose pieces between chapters that trace the interactions and non-interactions between Constantine and a reporter Satchmo Hawkins.

This volume gets 10 magic charms from Gweek.


One Response to “John Constantine, Hellblazer: Original Sins”

  1. You should really control the remarks at this website

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