Thursday, 21 April 2016

John Constantine, Hellblazer: Shoot Review (Jason Aaron, Sean Murphy)


Shoot is a grab-bag of Constantine short stories from quite a few big name creators like Warren Ellis, Brian Azzarello, Jamie Delano, Peter Milligan, China Mieville, and Dave Gibbons but the name that got my attention the most was Jason Aaron’s.

His two-part Constantine story with artist Sean Murphy (with colours by Lee “Deadly Class” Loughridge and covers by Lee “Batman: Noel” Bermejo - what a line-up!), Newcastle Calling, is THE reason to pick up this book. In his youth, John was in a punk band called Mucuous Membrane who played a gig in a now-condemned building where six people were murdered in the basement in ‘78. Set in the present day, a documentary crew break in to film an investigative piece - and then shit goes very far south for them! 

Aaron’s story is spooky, unnerving and totally compelling by itself and then he brings in Constantine who’s written both so damn cool and such a total bastard. If only DC had been quicker than Marvel to sign Aaron to an exclusive contract years ago, imagine the Constantine books we’d have now - but then we wouldn’t have all the great stuff Aaron’s done at Marvel either so I guess things worked out for the best. Newcastle Calling is far and away the best Constantine story I’ve read so far. 

Ellis’ story is about a psychologist investigating the causes of school shootings who notices John appearing in the background news footage of each of the most recent shootings. It’s not a bad story but it’s not great either - Ellis ranting about the fucked up state of the world through Constantine as his mouthpiece. 

Darko Macan’s two part Ashes and Honey is about Eastern European mysticism and bringing the dead back to life. It’s an ok story if a bit too miserable at times to call it very fun. The volume closes with some seasonal themed stories by Azzarello, Milligan, Delano, Mieville and Gibbons most of which are amusing little supernatural snapshots in the life of Constantine though Mieville’s was an overcomplicated mess - he’s not a very good comics writer. 

Newcastle Calling is easily a five star story, the rest of the volume is three stars average - let’s split the difference and call Shoot a four star book!

John Constantine, Hellblazer: Shoot

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