Searching For Annihilation: Hellblazer #2 (1987)

The opening sequence of Hellblazer #2 seems to be a commentary on the conventions of the superhero team-up. If this were a superhero comic, John Constantine and Papa Midnite would punch each other in the face for a few pages due to some misunderstanding, take a smoke break, then decide to team up and go after the murderous insect terrorizing Manhattan. Here, Constantine heads to Midnite’s club to find a slugfest in progress: two zombies are pummeling each other to undeath in a subterranean arena while a crowd of yuppies laps up the ultraviolence.  The two magicians engage in a bit of posturing as they get ready to get their hands dirty, debating the ethical shortcomings of their respective magical practices. Constantine tries to lay claim to a moral high ground, but it’s clear that Jamie Delano and John Ridgway share Midnite’s skepticism.

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Hero Of The Counterculture: Hellblazer #1 (1987)

“Getting to grips with John Constantine is like trying to pin down a shadow.” Satchmo Hawkins, the music journalist responsible for the “Faces on The Street” music column “reprinted” in the back of Hellblazer #1 (1987), seems to think that a direct line to the man himself would clear things up, and he promises readers an interview with John in the next issue of XS magazine. Though it’s a relatively small thing, I really liked the inclusion of the XS column at the end of this issue. It’s a reminder of how contingent our sense of history is on the perspective of the people doing the telling, and in retrospect, it’s a helpful cultural artifact for contemporary readers curious about the ways the 1980s looked at itself and the recent past. The particular architects of this story, writer Jamie Delano and artist John Ridgway, use Constantine to provide readers then and now with a pretty grotesque image of the 1980s, but they don’t necessarily romanticize earlier decades. They seem as fed up with the current state of the counterculture as they are disgusted by the yuppified antics occupying center stage.

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