Life comes are you real fast sometimes, especially this year. I keep telling myself I am going to be doing these bi-weekly but then before you know it a whole damn month has passed.
But that is okay, the comics are still there, waiting. Watching.
Welcome to Graphic Content #8. Since the previous stack of reviews, I launched a special, Swamp Thing-centric series called, what else, “Just Swamp Things.” So if you are asking where Graphic Content #7 is… well, that is it. I am hoping to alternate between the regular comic reviews and the Swamp Thing retrospective.
Anyway, let’s turn now to our ongoing titles.
John Constantine: Hellblazer #9
Simon Spurrier brings another creature of myth and legend into Constantine’s world with “The Favourite.” The issue also reintroduces Matías Bergara as the artist, again working with Jordie Bellaire as the colorist.
I’ve really come to appreciate the Constantine-take on the contemporary UK. Not living there I am sure there is a great deal that I am missing out on as I read this series, but Spurrier’s writing is strong enough that I can piece a great deal together from it. What isn’t hard to piece together is the disdain for the Royal institution presented in the issue. Maybe not the Queen, so much, but rather the extended family.
The plot of this week’s episode follows as Constantine is compelled to investigate the birthing of a foal from a prized Royal race-horse, which normally seems outside of his domain, but thanks to the machinations of his older double rumbling around the island, it becomes part of his overarching work of unwinding the tangles of Old Man Constantine.
The issue has many great hallmarks of HellBlazer‘s best stories: the grosser side of magic, the leftist politics, plenty of dodgy swears. It’s all great fun, but it also does a great job of building on the current era the title established. We see the return of Tommy Willowtree, albeit briefly when he is consulted by John. We also get a fun moment with Nat, the bouncer to the pub John frequents. It really feels like Spurrier’s take has come into its own, and this is a world I want to spend more time with. I am do feel John’s tendency to narrate his story is a little too close to the previous storyline, however, perhaps if the series didn’t dip into that well again so immediately I would have liked it a bit more. The story is fine, and it is by no means bad, but it does feel like the past three issues are running together, at least in concept.
As far as the art goes, I think Bergara is my favorite artist on the run. I like how dodgy he makes John look, and the combination of Bergara on the illustrations with Bellaire on the color is an absolute win, especially at the “birthing” scene in all it’s bloody glory.(4 / 5)
John Constantine: Hellblazer #9, written by Simon Spurrier and illustrated by Matías Bergara, is available from DC Comics.
Oh dear lord… the Clowns are back. With a cover that would send any sufferer of coulrophobia into a panic, Sink‘s “Death and the Midden” by series regulars John Lees (story) and Alex Cormack (illustration) promises to be full of the Sinkhill charm of the previous five issues, but also carry the menace of the roaming gang of clowns who have been glimpsed around the events of the stories.
The story told in this issue isn’t necessarily a unique one, beyond the fact it has a roving gang of drugged up torture clowns. The issue follows an assault/revenge narrative with the heroine begin subjected to excessively brutal torture only to be then subjected to a chase where she turns the tables on those who assault her. Largely without dialogue, aside from screams, grunts, and wheezing clown laughs, it’s an effective story told in silence and seems to suggest how the clowns that roam Sinkhill are made.
“Flats,” the backup feature, also presents some interesting wrinkles into the world of Sink. This one-page story introduces a suicide spot that may be more than it seems, and I am curious as to how this setting may develop or be integrated into other stories. Also, as a rather nice bonus for this issue, is a brief essay by series writer John Lees discussing influences on Sink and this issue in particular. It is fun to get such insights that you would normally need to wait for a trade to see.
While normally Cormack’s art really works for me, I feel the sequence in the rain, the majority of the issue, was fairly hard to parse. I understand that it is certainly chaotic and moody, but it also is just hard to figure out what one is looking at, at times, especially given that so much of the background is just a dark void. There is a grittiness and messiness to Sink that absolutely works, but I fear this episode carried it a bit too far at the cost of legibility. between the heavy black ink, the rainy white streaks, and the copious amounts of blood, I didn’t find myself reading through the panels as fluidly as I had hoped.(3.5 / 5)
Sink #6, written by John Lees and illustrated by Alex Cormack, is available on Comixology.
We make a return to the bloody, bloody streets of Philadelphia with writer Rodney Barnes and artist Jason Shawn Alexander in a rather thrilling and dramatic installment this week. The third part of Killadelphia‘s “Burn Baby Burn” arc, “The Dance of Death” picks up immediately after the previous issue, with James Sr. being brought up to speed after being dug up by his son. The immediate tension of the conversation is fantastic given the glimpse of the afterlife Sr. had experienced before his son dug him up, and that tension carries throughout the issue. James Sr. absolutely evicerates throughout the story and despite his obvious protests, the comic is richer with him being around.
A couple of threads are picked up in this issue, such as the return of the vampiric child Brittany, who has an interesting conversation with Abigail Adams in the first few pages. As for whether Abigail’s scheme makes sense in the grand scheme of things, that remains to be seen. Jupiter, the new, big bad vampire introduced at the start of the arc, also gets a detailed backstory that pulls in another president into this world of Barnes’ making, one that thematically is perfectly fitting to the whole story. It is a very exciting direction and complication to the series. The issue ends on one hell of a cliffhanger with three different “oh shit” moments. It’s quite an impressive confluence of events.
Killadelphia‘s art continues to impress. While earlier issues did have their elements I quibbled with as far as the inking style and the abstractness of some of the character art, that has more or less disappeared here, with character likenesses feeling very much fleshed out. I do feel like there can be an over-reliance on void panels, however. Not that every background needs to be fully fleshed out, but given the rougher and more impressionistic work of Jason Shawn Alexander it can be odd to see a panel that the background is absent. It obviously puts emphasis on the character, but even just a hint of the structures behind the character would be useful, I think(4 / 5)
Killadelphia #9, written by Rodney Barnes and illustrated by Jason Shawn Alexander, is available from Image Comics.
I am still on the hunt for horror titles to review, so as always, send your suggestions my way. I am planning on introducing a couple of new titles soon, as well. Until then, stay tuned for the next installment of Graphic Content.