Wednesday Comics Review: Hellblazer 276 and Doom Patrol 19

Posted by February 16, 2011 Comment

Reading Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and Rick Veitch’s Swamp Thing and Jamie Delano’s Hellblazer, there was one event that sat heavy on John Constantine’s head. Newcastle. Something very bad happened there and a year into his ongoing series, we discovered what. And it’s something that has haunted the book since. But in Hellblazer #276 from Pete Milligan and Simon Bisley, we get another mysterious event upon which we can pile conjecture upon conjecture, hoping one day the story will be told.

John Constantine and Epiphany’s honeymoon. We’ve gone straight from demon possessed wedding to the return flight back from the couple’s nuptials. And now they need a place to live, tumbling through the London property market which, naturally, is a sucker for John’s magical machinations.

This kind of story might have worked better five years ago, when London’s property market was at the height of silliness, and there’s an attempt to tie it in with the recent financial crisis instead, which feels a bit clunky. But then there’s also a tie in with the Roman invasion of Druidic Briton so, you know, you let it go.

And it’s a welcome return for Simon Bisley’s pencils, although he is starting to go on a few flights of fancy on some panels that lose comprehension for style, the kind of thing that caused his to fall out of favour as a comic artist some time ago. It might be worth watching for a repeat performance. But we get gloriously ugly faces, wonderful angular figures and men and women who look less like mannequins and more like they, pardon my french, fuck.

I’m loving this comic right now, and looking forward to the April 23rd London event from some of the man’s tale tellers.

And then there’s Doom Patrol #19 from Keith Giffen, Andy Clark and Ron Randall. This issue number has great meaning, it’s the issue of the nineteen-eighties Doom Patrol that Grant Morrison and Richard Case took over and created a very very different super team in the process. And nothing else has been quite as strange since. Sadly, including this comic.

Part two of a crossover with Secret Six (the first part reviewed here), Doom Patrol has recently been cancelled, although a petition is calling for its revival already.

What the Secret Six crossover does is inject the book with an additional degree of weirdness with the likes of Ragdoll bumping heads with Elasti-Woman. And it plays nicely with the idea of fanboy bad guys playing with their superhero toys for real, until the grownups stop them. And continues Danny The Bungalow and Ambush Bug’s relationship as the new best couple in comics.

But the artwork is just too traditional for this book, it can’t go off in the stranger or darker areas that the script seems to need. It’s go the clean crisp look that disguises the oddness in its core and stops that from flourishing. The fist fight with a bunch of scientists doesn’t look that much different as if it were a bunch of thugs. I criticised Simon Bisley earlier for moving into the kind of territory that lost his audience a while ago, but this is the kind of book that could really benefit from it. Seriously, with the book being cancelled, wouldn’t this have been the time to try out something very different indeed? What would you have to lose?

Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics in London. Paul Cornell and Paul Rainey will be signing and holding a panel discussion there on Saturday…

(Last Updated February 16, 2011 6:27 am )