Hellblazer #245


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Hellblazer #245


  • Words: Jason Aaron
  • Art: Sean Murphy
  • Inks: Sean Murphy
  • Colors: Lee Loughridge
  • Story Title: Newcastle Calling
  • Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jun 18, 2008

Guest writer Jason Aaron connects modern punk rockers with John Constantine's punk past in this horrifying issue of Hellblazer.

Normally, a writer inserting a debate amongst his characters about which punk song can be counted as the greatest of all time will elicit from me a violent revulsion worthy of the self-indulgence, but in this case, the quality of Aaron's story earns him a free pass. The structure of the tale is a trope of horror fiction. A group of punk rock fans, producing a documentary on John Constantine's band Mucous Membrane, return to the scene of the crime so to speak, and find themselves enraptured by dark forces and powers that haunt the site. In 1978, Constantine was the sole survivor of an episode that left six people dead, and led to his stay in an insane asylum.

The intrepid documentarians sneak onto the condemned property and act in accordance with the stereotypical teenagers of classic slasher movies. They do drugs, have sexual tension, and proceed in investigating places they shouldn't. The characters consume hallucinogenic mushrooms, leaving open the possibility that the horrifying events are not real, but no less graphic. I enjoyed some of the humorous touches Aaron includes in the script, particularly the mocking of one character’s false British accent. Surely a self-deprecating rib of his own American heritage in writing the British Hellblazer. John Constantine's involvement in the story is reserved for the next issue, as he catches a train to Newcastle, somehow alerted to the occult happenings from his past.

Sean Murphy handles the art chores for the issue. This was my first exposure to his work, and it more than passes muster. Most of the issue takes place at night, and Murphy proves he is more than up to the challenge of rendering the nocturnal setting. His backgrounds are especially convincing, and I am fond of the angular depiction of John Constantine himself. Where the panels are depicting scenes from the documentary, Murphy inserts film frames, a unique twist that really succeeds in differentiating the pages from the narrative. I would be happy with seeing him as a regular artist for Hellblazer should Leonardo Manco give up the job.

Aaron's story succeeds by being both scary and disturbing as well as addressing some of the lesser explored Constantine continuity. I get the feeling that Aaron is probably a fan of punk as well and so well suited to writing this story. I suspect the second chapter will deliver as well, and produce a fine short story arc.

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