Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Review: John Constantine Hellblazer: All His Engines

John Constantine Hellblazer: All His Engines
by Mike Carey & Leonardo Manco
DC/Vertigo, $24.95

In the quintessential Hellblazer story, John Constatine encounters, stumbles across, or is brought into a situation of evil nefariousness. Constatine starts to tackle the problem with much of a plan, developing his strategy has he goes, which ultimately backfires. He then regroups, and through a combination of luck, skill and deviousness, triumphs, although often a hefty price must be paid by someone close to him.

All His Engines is pretty much a quintessential Hellblazer story: When his long-suffering friend Chas's granddaughter goes mysteriously ill, the family reluctantly brings John in to help. Of course there's some otherworldly cause, one that leads he and Chas to Los Angeles, where a hellspawn has brought a bit of Hell to Earth, and is looking to franchise. The demon blackmails John into helping his get rid of his rivals, and John complies, all the while looking for the angle that will successfully get Chas's granddaughter back.

Carey and Manco, currently the creative team on the regular Hellblazer comic, bring their A-Game to the table here. Carey crafts the story tightly, and keeps the familiar characters true to their past depictions while telling a big story with personal stakes. I've always appreciated Manco's art for its grittiness, but here he seems to add a touch of well-needed control and discipline, while at the same time pulling out some interesting visuals. This is a good, solid Hellblazer story, and if you like the character you'll probably like this.

The questions remains however as to why this perfectly good Hellblazer story needed the deluxe hardcover OGN treatment. Surely this story would have fit just fine within the normal comic? Undoubtedly it was created to tie into the perceived excitement around the Constantine movie, both to cash in to the potential windfall and to reward the creators. Is it a life-changing event in John Constatine's life that no true fan will want to go without reading? No; it's just solid entertainment. You'll have to decide if that's worth the deluxe treatment to you.

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

1 comment:

Adrian said...

Hi, nice review of AHE.

In light of the end of Mr Carey's run on Hellblazer it is worth adding that it may not be "a life-changing event in John Constantine's life that no true fan will want to go without reading?" but it *is* such a moment in the life of Chas, leading into the very serious moments in 206.