Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hellblazer: India by Peter Milligan

Hellblazer: India by Peter Milligan and others. Vertigo $14.99
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

"Why does the newborn baby cry?" asks the priest of his flock. "It cries because it has been separated from God," he continues. Then John Constantine enters the room and the priest? He says "Oh fuck, no!" And that is why I so like the Hellblazer comics/graphic novels. Peter Milligan’s writing creates a sense of verisimilitude, of the sleazy magical world in which Constantine lives. The subtle artwork by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini only helps to further effect that sense of unease.

Constantine is in India, looking for purity -- he is trying to bring back to life his dead lover. He hopes Charles -- the aforementioned priest -- will help. However, Charles is imbued in something dark and evil: a demon stalks the streets of Mumbai preying on beautiful young women. But did Constantine travel to India voluntarily or was he summoned to destroy that demon? Tied in with this arc there are several strands that deal with love, lost and forfeited, and with duty and responsibility.

The second story in the book is "No Future", which links Constantine with his punk days, when he fronted the band Mucous Membrane. Here, a bunch of dead Conservatives/demons are making plans to usurp the British Government. Naturally, Constantine becomes embroiled in the sorry events, dealing with punks and thugs with his usual armory: sarcasm and sleight of hand. This story was also written by Milligan and embellished with Simon Bisley's dark images.

As ever, Hellblazer is an excellent graphic novel that's aimed for readers who want complex illustrated stories of black magic and cynicism. Recommended.

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