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Comics Pick of the Week: Hellblazer #234

John Constantine began life as a supporting character in Alan Moore’s successful and groundbreaking run on Swamp Thing.  The story goes that Moore created the character at the behest of the book’s artists, who wanted to draw a character that looked like the musician Sting.  Constantine was envisioned as a streetwise master of magic, foregoing the wooden dialogue and cheesy mysticism of Marvel’s Dr. Strange in favor of a much more contemporary, urban sensibility.  The character proved so popular that DC soon spun him off into his own series, Hellblazer, which became one of the founding titles of the progressive Vertigo line (along with Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Grant Morrison’s Animal Man and Doom Patrol) and is the only one to have enjoyed an uninterrupted publishing run to this day.

Hellblazer 234The series’ longevity is likely a result of the strong personality of its main character and his ability to consistently attract some of the top talent in comics, including writers Jamie Delano, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Eddie Campbell, Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis and Brian Azzarello, and artists John Ridgeway, Dave McKean, Sean Phillips and Steve Dillon, among others.  Each creative team has brought their own unique viewpoint to the character, but Constantine has remained consistent in his characterization throughout the 19-year run of the title.

The current issue begins writer Andy Diggle’s second story arc, and it sees a return to the dark urban horror of the Jamie Delano years.  Diggle’s bleak script follows a fairly standard formula for Hellblazer stories, but is no less effective for it:  an already horrific situation is made only slightly worse through demonic interference as a group of teenaged hooligans begin a destructive rampage at the behest of the supernatural entity that is controlling their leader.  Constantine arrives halfway through the story and, sensing that something is amiss, decides to investigate.  Diggle has a good handle on Constantine’s character, which is of course the most important element of any Hellblazer story.  The dark artwork by Leonardo Manco and especially the muted color palette used by colorist Lee Loughridge complement the writing nicely and give the story the atmosphere of urban decay that always sets Hellblazer apart from DC’s other supernatural fantasy titles.

As the first part of a new story this is as good an issue as any for new readers.  For a book with such a long history, Hellblazer has acquired little in the way of continuity baggage and is an easy series to jump into.  And it is always a satisfying read.

Posted by Jefferson - July 25, 2007 at 3:01 pm

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Starfest 2005 Video Room Schedule

Superhero Theater

Friday              The New Breed

6:00pm       Blade II (2002)

8:00pm       The Incredibles (2004)

10:00pm     Hellboy (2004)

Saturday       Marvel Madness

8:00am       Captain America (1966) Animated

8:30am       Sub-Mariner (1966) Animated

9:00am       Incredible Hulk (1966) Animated

9:30am       Spider-Man (1967) Animated

10:00am     The Amazing Spider-Man (1978)

11:30am     Spider-Man Animated (2002) Flash Memory with Jeffrey Combs

12:00pm     The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989) with Daredevil

1:30pm       Incredible Hulk (1982) Animated Origin of the Hulk

2:00pm       X2: X-Men United (2003)

4:00pm       Fantastic Four (1994) Unreleased Feature

5:30pm       Fantastic Four (1978) Animated and Trailers for new FF movie

6:00pm       Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979) TV Movie

7:30pm       X-Men Evolution (2004) Animated with Captain America

8:00pm       Dr. Strange (1978) TV Movie

9:30pm       Incredible Hulk (1996) Animated with Dr. Strange

10:00pm     Doctor Mordrid  (1992) “Dr. Strange” film starring Jeffrey Combs

Sunday         DC Dazzle

8:00am       Superman (1966) Animated

8:30am       Flash (1966) Animated

9:00am       Justice League (1966) Animated

9:30am       Justice League Unlimited (2004) Fearful Symmetry

with Jeffrey Combs

10:00am     Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

11:30am     Batman Fan Films and Trailers for Batman Begins

12:00pm     The New Original Wonder Woman (1975)

1:30pm       Justice League Unlimited (2004) Hawk and Dove

2:00pm       Upcoming Superhero Projects Discussion

3:00pm       The Flash (1990) Captain Cold with Jeffrey Combs

4:00pm       Superman: The Movie (1978)

Posted by Michael - February 25, 2005 at 8:31 am

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