HellBlazer 300: All Good Things Must Come To An End
Bear with me here guys, I’m going to go off-tangent here and talk about something non-GW or miniature related. It’s probably no surprise to anyone reading this that I am a huge comic geek as well as a hobby geek. I ‘ve been reading comics for about as long as I’ve been in the hobby and, thanks to my old man, have read some of the best comics titles in existence – Sin City, Sandman, Dark Knight, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Invisibles. I could go on. But recently, something happened that I didn’t want to happen, but I am also now glad that it did. Namely, this:
That there is the last ever issue of Hellblazer, number 300. That’s it. All over. No more Hellblazer.
Now, for those of you saying ‘fucks sake Dave, its only a comic’, shush you. Also, fuck you. For me at least, Hellblazer is…sorry, was not only a comic. It was the comic, the one I read from issue 1 all the way to issue 300, the one I grew up with and the first comic that I ever loved. Hellblazer is my all-time favourite comic bar none and John Constantine my favourite character in any form of literature. I still remember the first ever issue I saw, left lying casually around by my dad, with a cover showing the ghost of Francis Dashwood bursting through a ring of fire carved into a tree. I can still picture one frame from that storyline perfectly, Dashwood’s ghost being dragged underwater by a hangmans noose around his neck tied to a ship, with a bit shit-eating grin on his face. Fantastic stuff.
I’m not going to go into a Wikipedia style breakdown of Hellblazer’s storylines and Constantines background , because honestly, Wikipedia already has that covered. If you know about Hellblazer, good times. If not, get out there and get those collected paperbacks and get reading. Suffice to say, at a time when normal Marvel/DC/Image superhero comics were increasingly about the big explosions, guns and titties (Image, I’m looking at you….and you Rob Liefield you talentless bastard…) Hellblazer was an altogether darker, more grown-up type of comic, a subtle insidious note of urban horror in muted colours against the technicolour ranks of the ‘heroes’. It was perfect.
It’s hard for me to explain how important Hellblazer, and by extension John Constantine, was to me in terms of influencing how I write and create characters myself, not just for fiction but also for rp etc. Hellblazer taught me that sometimes the good guys don’t always win, in fact winning and losing is very often a nebulous concept at best. Constantine as a character is deeply flawed and human, arrogant, underhanded, a massive prick, manipulative and cold, reluctant to use magic (well, magic about as far from the ‘fireball throwing, staff wielding, greybearded’ type as you can get). But he’s also likable, a proper rogue. A trickster. The ultimate con-man. This is a man who has fucked the Devil over more times than I can remember, who has made Angels fall and fucked Succubi purely to get his ‘edge’ back. Constantine has outwitted and outthought gods and demons, monsters and men and has delighted in every second of it. For me personally, he is the perfect character and I only wish that the characters I create could have a tiny iota of his depth and charm.
I could go on for ages about how great Hellblazer was, how rare it was for a mainly UK-based comic to last so long free of US influence while under the DC banner, how rarer still it was for a comic to have a main character who aged in real time or just simply how every single storyline made me smile along with John. Instead, I’ll urge you to go out and read it for yourself if you haven’t already – if you have, I hope you felt the same as me about the last issue and its bittersweet perfectly Hellblazer ending. That last panel is something.
I’ll leave you with the wise words of the man himself, and possibly the single greatest quote I have ever seen or heard regarding magic:
[pl_blockquote cite=”John Constantine”]I’ll tell you the ultimate secret of magic. Any cunt could do it.[/pl_blockquote]