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James Delano and Jock's Pandemonium left me depressed [May. 19th, 2010|07:45 pm]
John Constantine: Hellblazer


[music |Stars - "Elevator Love Letter" - Heart]

The vitality that had made John Constantine so attractive to me, is gone. Delano's original run on Hellblazer was very political and dark, in the middle of Thatcher era, but there was still a hope for renewal, in remembering. Decades ago, there was a feeling in Delano's writings that though "starving -- the country ate out its own heart", it could pass. Today, well, will the cameras ever go away?

The storyline and John's thoughts and circumstances, was punctuated by Jock's nearly colourless art, I almost forgot that John's eyes were supposed to be blue. The scene of John Constantine, scurrying like an anxious old man on what was his London street, shoulders hunched beneath the glares of the street cams, just makes me sad and old (and I, unlike Delano who's the same age as John, am not old yet). In direct opposite to his swagger in Swamp Thing, John's posture throughout the entire book is closed in.

ETA: srs, it's in character, even the part which I wish weren't (when John lunched at someone...), and the universe fits together sensibly, but even when John puts out his own terms, there was no sense of rebellion, only old dude anger. The Chinese expression that won't leaves me is 行屍走肉, walking corpse moving meat. Look at the small scans in this article:

[User Picture]From: ladielazarus
2010-05-20 02:09 am (UTC)
I think the thing that we have to remember, though, and be willing to embrace, is that while we might not be "old" yet, John is. He's nearing 60, now and it's logical that he'd be losing a bit of his vitality.

I actually find it reassuring that he's finally getting older. I can't stand when a character seems to live forever, never aging, and never admitting to the audience that they might be just a bit less fiery than they were back in the day.

Now, that being said, I understand what you're saying about Jock's art. I've never been a fan. I don't care for the style. I can understand the feelings of melancholy that his depictions of John evoke.
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[User Picture]From: hohaiyee
2010-05-20 06:58 pm (UTC)

It's a bit of a shock since I was just reading Swamp Thing

...and The Devil You Know.

John was the punk, being New and Rebellious is integral to his character, it's how he defeated Nergal the first time, luring him into the electronics. Now, the way John narrates, the cameras, the bluetooth, etc, it's getting the Old Man Jon Shakes His Fist At ___ vibe. He's out of place with the times now, behind it. I guess this was foreshadowed in Books of Magic, throughout...that he's just gonna get sadder and sadder.

It's also jarring because I just read the Roots of Coincidence, written in 2009, and christ, featuring a John AND Chas who looked and acted like blokes in their twenties! Dunno how I felt about that...and I didn't the stuff between R of C and Pandemonium yet. John might have been rapidly aged by cutting out such an essential part of him, his twin and synchronicity. At the end of R of C, he looked so lonely when he said, "I go me own way, always have."
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[User Picture]From: hohaiyee
2010-05-22 03:17 am (UTC)

re: vitality

...okay, John had a waaaay harder life, but being Old doesn't mean one have to be as lifeless as he was in Pandemonium (a sharp aging from The Roots of Coincidence).

Like, take a look at Sting, dude totally doesn't look as old as he's supposed to be.


There's light in his eyes!

Hopefully, with grim reality addressed, we'll also have a John pick up the pieces moment.
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[User Picture]From: prettyarbitrary
2010-05-20 02:16 pm (UTC)
I see what you mean. The thing about John that has always kept me coming back is his defiance. The...capitulation in those panels rings true, in a way, but it's all the more depressing for that.

I'm rather torn, actually. I like that John actually ages and is treated like a real person, but part of me doesn't want to see it catch up to him (though part of Hellblazer has always been that eventually it always catches up with you).
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[User Picture]From: hohaiyee
2010-05-20 06:52 pm (UTC)

re:but part of me doesn't want to see it catch up to him

Yeah, it feels like we are saying goodbye to something really important...

but the lines that are in my head now are these;

The hard rock god, he never had a chance, you know
Incurable romantics never do
He held a flame I wasn't born to carry
I'll leave the dying young stuff up to you
- Heart by Stars

Delano's first Hellblazer run was written in response to real time political moods, it addresses era, so I guess it's ironic that I like reading it for nostalgia, for when the times were bad maybe, but not as bad as now.

Then he brings John to Iraq, and that Cool Older Brother or Cool Older Uncle with the answers (and all his archtypes), is just old now, and we who are still young (for now) is alone.
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[User Picture]From: prettyarbitrary
2010-06-01 01:56 pm (UTC)
Returning to this because I finally grabbed Pandemonium during my monthly pilgrimage to ye olde comic shop.

Actually, I didn't feel that the writing presented a threadbare John. The writing felt very noir--black, cynical, spiritually battered, even cruel, but not lacking in vitality, despite John's own commentary on his "maturity."

All the deadness came from the art, which I agree was just depressing. When he faces Nergal, however, I notice suddenly he's standing straight and tall, and when his head goes down it's because he's looking at people sidewise. Also that's the only point in the book where any real color is present. It gave me the impression that Hell is more real and vital than the real world...

...And for that matter so did the plot. Humanity is depressingly disempowered even from our own violence in this story, both by Hell and by arrogant bureaucrats who dwell far above and away from the trenches. I'm left with a vision of your average person as a puppet or a game piece, not just the soldiers but John and the girl as well, who're both played to get them into this situation. I imagine this is the point; Delano's pointing out that the more it changes, the more it stays the same, and everything he was commenting on in his original run during the Thatcher years is still right there, and it's still the same flavor of bleak.

But the art is still horrible and lifeless.
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