Welcome back to Graphic Content, Haunted MTL’s dive into horror comics. We cycle back to John Constantine, Hellblazer and Killadephia this week. We also say goodby to Constantine as this is the final issue in a run cut tragically short.
So, does John Constantine, Hellblazer go out, leaving us wanting more? Let’s find out.
John Constantine, Hellblazer #12
The good news about the final issue of this run, “The Sceptered Isle, Conclusion,” is that there is a great deal of work in making everything feel like an ending. However, it feels less like a natural culmination and more a quick trajectory shift after the notice of cancellation. Despite this, the issue is solid and fairly satisfying as a conclusion. We follow the previous issue with Constantine observing a rescue operation launched by Tommy Willowtree and Nat to save the giant. He is observing a safe distance with the scryer K-Mag and young Noah. As John is pushed into acting, the grand scheme of Older John is revealed. Everything has been done to feed the Older John, and our relatively younger John must make a sacrifice, and in the process, the floodgates open with consequences and revelations.
What I appreciate most about this issue is that it did work to codify the main takeaway of magic in the world of Hellblazer. Ultimately magic isn’t worth the cost, and anything gained from it results in John’s words, “a shower of shit.” The whole run has been instance after instance of magic and the horrible, terrible downsides of it all. From angels to mermaids to unicorns, every bit of magic has been bloody, awful, and traumatic – and not even real. The run has been about tulpas – creating things through sheer belief and its terrible price to manifest them. The things you want, you will into existence, end up taking something from you. Simon Spurrier’s approach to magic is great. It’s dirty, nasty tricks, and it’s perfect for Hellblazer. My hope is this isn’t the last we’ll see of him writing John Constantine’s miserable little world. The ending sets up some interesting wrinkles for the petty dabbler – things fans would love to see.
Aaron Campbell’s art over the bulk of the run has been great, and there are moments in this issue that are breathtaking. Something is enchanting about Campbell’s visual approach to the magical and how at times, panels seem to coalesce into existence on the page. I also found the coloring on this issue particularly effective, especially in the interplay of dominant colors from page to page by Jordie Bellaire. I would most definitely love to own a few of this run’s original pages.
Sadly, John Constantine, Hellblazer, is over, but the run stuck the landing. I think the history of John Constantine will look kindly at the world that Simon Spurrier and Aaron Campbell crafted. It really worked to pull John Constantine from the big-budget world of capes and tights and situate him back into the world he works best – a realm of shitty, toxic magic among shitty, toxic people – where John may be the most shitty and toxic example of both. (5 / 5)
We return to the vampire-filled streets of Philly this week with the twelfth issue of Killadelphia, titled “Burn Baby Burn, Part VI, Endgame.” Despite the unwieldiness of the titles of issues, the book has continued to prove deft in storytelling and worldbuilding. We see the continued chaos of the vampiric uprising as it spills out of the city proper while also catching up with Tevin, a figure who has receded into the background for a while but who seems like his purpose has yet to really play out. We get a sense of holding for our three general leads, but we see some major movement elsewhere, including our first depiction of Hell.
Rodney Barnes continues to write funny, snappy dialogue that belies a background in television. Characters have their distinct voices and as a whole most of the smaller characters, down to some of the vampires, prove unique. I am also pleased to see that some of my growing concerns with pacing from the previous few issues seem to have been lifted with this issue. I can see that the flashbacks slowed things down for me quite a bit. They ultimately seem important, but I think their placement was very much a second-act drag on the overall story. We’re seemingly in the final act, now, though, especially given the double shocker ending.
Jason Shawn Alexander wonderfully illustrates the chaos of the vampires across the city and suburbs. One sight gag is particularly mean-spirited, brutal and made me laugh for quite a while upon seeing it. There is inherent ridiculousness to the concept of the vampire uprising, and Alexander does a good job of giving it enough weight without losing sight of how fantastic this all really is. The art feels a little looser with this issue, but I don’t think that is bad. Likenesses have remained consistent, so there is no worry about being unclear who is who. I think the looser look helps sell the frenzy of this all.
Killadelphia is still the best horror comic out there right now, and it seems like we’re going to see that streak continue. Overall, this is a good issue that puts many things in motion for what seems to be the final stretch of the story. Definitely read this comic if you have not.(5 / 5)
See you soon with another pair of reviews. I will really miss covering John Constantine, Hellblazer, but I am pleased it stuck the landing, no matter how forced the jump ended up. As for what series I’ll pair with Killadelphia… we shall see.
As always, let me know what you think about the comics, the review, or suggest comics for me to cover.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 5
Well, you won’t get rid of me that easily… Ha ha, I lied about coming to the end and the afterlife in the Creepy Comics Collages segment, it was just an opportunity for rebirth. Besides, it’s World Collage Day! So having come into another comic book to rework, here we go again…
Creepy Comics Story 9: The Voice (of God or Reason or perhaps an homage to my ex)
“Come to me my children, the voice of God awaits!… Don’t let them escape!” Please beam me up out of this weird comic collage alternate reality. “God I am your hand! Lift me… to your place. I commend my spirit!” I want to go back to dreaming about starfish.
The computer programmer behind the scenes turns to face us and smiles. “Guardians! This is a place of God!… Come to the true voice of God!” “I am everything.” “Come to the voice!” And the horrific AI generated creatures abide by his every coded word.
Just like last night in the — signs posted for Nightmare, No Exit. The deer spirit faun screams in surprise, “Eeek!” “No! I defy you!” She returns to the form of a little girl with arms outspread to the open sky. “Y’know, a day like today makes all the stuff that happened last night seem just like a bad dream!” The dream seems so real…
Somewhere in the city, the computer programmer sits up at night in pensive monologue, “You try to make a difference… But it doesn’t really matter.”
Creepy Comics Story 10: The City (Metropolis becomes self-aware)
This segment is brought to you by Dead Artists and Talking Dinosaurs. No really, wait for it…
Woooooo Uhhhh Wooooooo Uhhhh… Wump! Uff! Wump! Uff! “She belongs to The City!” The Glenn Fry 1985 hit single looms ominously overhead as Metropolis becomes self-aware. “The City… will live!… The City… will breathe!” The City gasps for air, “Got to… breathe!… Got to… Breathe!“
Her breath is the wind… Her eyes are windows. Her heart pumps fluid through buried plumbing… “I’m The City!” Her mind is The City!
And we have a celebrity appearance by Rich Koz “Son of Svengoolie” WFLD 1973: “I take a nap for 10,000 years and look what happens… some-body builds a city!” Kerwyn chimes in, “Geez! Somebody’s been busy!” And we cut out to a scene of Svengoolie standing alongside his coffin.
Well, that’s all folks. Or is it? For now, any way… until I get more comic books… Duh duh DUHHHH…
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 4
Wow, I can’t believe you’ve stayed the course through four whole strange story posts of these creepy comics collages. But this is the final frontier, the last segment, the standing ovation as it were. So here goes…
Creepy Comics Story 7: The Grave (shallow enough for ya?)
“It should take longer, it seems to all of them. Such holy flesh should not give before a blade so easily.” “His brow is growing so cold.” “Yes it would be. He’s dying.”
“My god… I’m not dead.” Put the shovel down. “Life is a no-win situation. Besides… You’re already dead!”
“I’m not dead. I’m not dead!… Oh, Oh my god… I can’t move… What’s happened to me?” Buried alive. Or maybe not.
“Dead?” Perhaps I am actually dead. I was expecting something… I dunno… different.
“I’m not hungry, I’m dead. I’m not sure what I’m doing here, in fact.” At least I’m not a zombie. That seems a small consolation right now though. “My organs are shutting down. It is a relief.”
“Three days have already passed.” We’re just sitting here, rotting. Like Norman Bates’ Mother. At least someone was kind enough to supply a rocking chair. “Oh, one last thing before I go… You’re doing my fucking head in.”
Creepy Comics Story 8: Adrift Afterlife (why you save the best gold coins for the ferryman)
How’d we get here? “I do not stand alone. I am sat in a boat.” “.. to be millions of miles away from any care in the world.” Was that the Ferryman? “Only liberty I know.”
“He does not remember arriving here, or if he has been here before. It is not the island he grew up on, though it feels so very familiar… He has been waiting for the night tides to come in, for they will bring starfish. He has always liked watching them cling to the beach before the current pulls them back into fathoms.”
“And the ocean brings him starfish… Perhaps his father had nothing to do with this place at all.” The ferryman stands on the far shore. It makes no difference now.
“Beneath the ocean, razor-sharp coral grows and plunges towards the surface, sent by a green place that would not like to burn.” “The sand is soft between his toes and he is not ashamed of anything.” The ghosts are here, contentedly it seems.
Thank you for joining us for these creepy comics collage art stories. But here’s where we have to leave it off. Trust me, it’s best that way. Besides I’m out of creepy comics to collage with.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 3
We’re ba-ack… Are you ready for the next creepy comics collages graphic story overload? After the last time and the intermission I wasn’t sure I’d see you again, but here we are, together again. You’d almost think we put something in the water – wink.
Now where were we? Oh yeah, the world was going to hell… or was it?
Creepy Comics Story 5: Alien Invasion (A Fist Full of Physics!!!)
“Elsewhere… months… earlier…” “It begins as a flicker pin-point of light getting closer ever closer until it takes form.” The sky is falling, damn you Chicken Little.
“…unconfirmed rumors of extraterrestrials have surfaced this evening following reported sightings in upstate New York earlier today.” There’s the news for you. Always blowing things up to increase viewership ratings.
“Then I would suggest a test immediately.” ‘K Doc, we get it; maybe there’s cause for concern. Guessing these aren’t friendlies based on intel, or that the government pissed them off. “Where’s William Shatner when you really need him?”
“Next morning… City Hall…” “A Fist Full of Physics” Blamm-o! “As if that’s some kind of homage.” It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I was feeling fine but now I’m not so sure. “All of this is on your head.” You can thank the world governments with their shoot first, ask questions later policies for that.
“The act was deplorable. It’s ramifications were permanent.” Doc looks unamused. “And the doctor drones on in his cold monotone… ‘Then we all die.’”
Creepy Comics Story 6: Werewolves (Londoners, eat your hearts out)
“Fables Werewolves… no one can hear you howl.” So now we’re elbow-deep in lycanthropy? This story just keeps getting weirder and weirder…
“… I feel so… disoriented… is this vertigo?” No, you wouldn’t be so lucky. Once bitten, twice shy. It’s The Change. Prepare yourself for the transformation.
“What now?” Enough with the damned interruptions already, can’t you see I’m at work?!
“Shall we start a war?”
“No! No! Leave me alone! Leave me alone! No!“
“I know one thing.” “Never will you suffer the indignity of this animal’s touch again.” The wolf seems somewhat offended by that statement. No really. And probably rightly so.
“Maybe it’s just an excuse, a fucking cop-out for when we inevitably fuck-up our lives and hurt people… We’re not cursed, we’re rotten, or mad or…”
“I don’t deserve this!” he howls. Stop blaming the werewolves for your own human indecencies. Teacups get broken and the London werewolves get angry.
Thank you for going all in with us over this series, there’s… one… more… final… huzzah… In the meantime, check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.