Review: Hellblazer 293 by Peter Milligan, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stefano Landini and Brian Buccellato

Review: Hellblazer 293 by Peter Milligan, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stefano Landini and Brian Buccellato

Eliot Cole wites for Bleeding Cool;

Peter Milligan's take on John Constantine is very much a natural one. He handles John's marriage so well. There's a modernity I don't see elsewhere, other than "Mind The Gap" which doesn't  have much choice. Saga doesn't count because it's not modern … it's future! This approach is brought to the fore straight away in this issue, and it's lovely. But the comfort and fluidity of the first few pages dies out as things move along.

Perhaps the awkward nature of John working *for* the fuzz is an intentional device to put us off guard for a reveal later, but it takes me out of it too much. I'm someone that sits at the front at the cinema, so that I'm *in* the film. Which means that I obviously operate on a (maybe) naive but honest mindset for enjoying my storytelling. Equally important next to that is my emotional involvement in what's occurring. I kind of exist, in this way, to be moved.

So, sorry to move sideways a bit there, but when I'm taken out of something (for whatever reason) it can be tough to reconnect.

The disconnect isn't total, John's voice is still strong, and the tone is very much consistent with the series. I wasn't really that well informed about the art team, but they do very well, here. They do a good job. I do like the style, too, it's different enough to be intriguing, and it might grow on me some more. But we have just got off the back of a Bisley issue, which I think puts them at a slight disadvantage.

I'm not going to pick a page in this review, because I'm not sure that I can find one that I have that much to say about (not that I usually have a lot).

After the initial 'married bliss' pages I'm just left feeling that there was a little too much setting up for the rest of the issue. We spend a lot of time investing in what's going on as a result of  the mystery participant up to his reveal, I just feel (at this juncture in the ongoing storyline) that it seems we could have had more interaction (and hence more peripheral character work) with the police and less private-dicking. It feels that if we're going to be involving the police it seems odd to have Constantine playing detective around town especially given his disdain (expressed in this issue!) for them. So why not engage that more and play off it?

I feel the natural state of Hellblazer is questions rather than answers (mainly because of the Delano years) and perhaps it's tough for me to break out of that mode of reading, even after all this time. But a less introspective John provides more movement on a regular basis. It's more dynamic, perhaps, but less dense.  Density doesn't have to be the result of verbose third-person boxes, thoughts or conversations. It can come from the art direction, too, which might not be the reason for this issue feeling so … functional … but that's where it is for me. I should say, though, that I think that Camuncoli, Landini and Buccellato could handle that level. I also think that Bisley could absolutely own it … so there that is.

So this is a three out of five, for me. I like Milligan's 'Blazer a lot (he wears it well), but this issue just feels too strongly structured. I'm not calling for less structure, just less feeling of it. Also; three is still positive!

(feel free to quote me on the Blazer fitting bit, I'm sure it's *never* been said before …)

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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