|Another take on Pandemonium
||[Jun. 1st, 2010|12:58 pm]
John Constantine: Hellblazer
Originally I added this to the comments in hohaiyee's post, but then I figured, Ahhhh, heck, might as well post it out here.
Anyway, returning to this because I finally grabbed Pandemonium during my monthly pilgrimage to ye olde comic shop, and I find I agree with hohaiyee on some points but not on others.
I didn't feel that the writing lacked life. The narration felt very noir--cynical, spiritually battered, even cruel, but blackly vital, despite John's running commentary on his own "maturity." (Which is sort of funny because oh, John, you're so not. And you know it.)
The tremendous sense of deadness (IMO) came from the art, which I agree was just grueling. When he faces Nergal, however, I notice suddenly he's standing straight and tall, and when his head goes down it's only because he's looking at people sidewise. Also I noticed that this interlude is the only point in the book where any real, vibrant color is present. It's almost as if Hell is more real and alive than the real world. And isn't that a despressing thought.
For that matter the plot had a similar effect, though it's Hellblazer so what should I expect there? Humanity is disempowered even from our own violence in this story, both by supernatural powers and by bureaucrats so aloof and autocratic that they come off almost as supernatural themselves. I'm left with a vision of your average person as a puppet or a game piece in the schemes of the mighty, not just the soldiers but John and the woman as well. I imagine this is the point; Delano makes it pretty clear that nothing really changes when it comes to power, and everything he was commenting on in his original run during the Thatcher years is still right there (including the cameras; the surveillance state began to become an issue under her administration), and still the same flavor of bleak.
But the art is still horrible and lifeless.
ETA: Oh, hey, I was going to end it there, but something just occurred to me. Until now I was thinking that Pandemonium really didn't bring anything to John's character other than "Hey, look at him getting old these days." But now that I think of it, seeing Delano on Hellblazer again made me realize that John's response to all this is significantly nastier than I think it would've been back in the early days. I've been rereading some favorite Hellblazer arcs since the finale of Supernatural put me in the mood (*cough*), and it hadn't struck me till now, with this chance to directly compare Delano's original interpretation of John with this older, more experienced version, how much John has hardened. I mean, he was never a nice guy, but back then he hesitated to put a gun to a serial killer's head and pull the trigger. Now, despite his enduring distaste for hands-on violence, I doubt he'd balk much at the same situation. Discuss?