Tuesday, 21 March 2017

John Constantine: Hellblazer, Volume 13: Haunted Review (Warren Ellis, John Higgins)

Ugh, be careful what you wish for, eh? I thought a Warren Ellis-scripted Hellblazer would be a chicken dinner but it proved to be much too bitter for my taste.

Ellis’ six-part story Haunted sees John Constantine looking for an Aleister Crowley wannabe who murdered his ex in a bloody ritual. John’s vengeful journey takes him through the dark underbelly of London. The story is meandering at best and gratuitously miserable and dark. The pages are full of sad people living in filth, doing needle drugs, violently hurting each other pointlessly – it’s too much. And the finale is just depressing as fuck. I’m usually fine with Ellis’ misanthropic writing/worldview but I absolutely hated this one and could barely stand it.

The rest of the book is made up of short stories, some by Ellis, some by other writers, and none are much better than Haunted. A lunatic in a bedsit murders people until he turns the room evil; an elderly dying Japanese doctor confesses to atrocities he committed in WW2 and desires a painful exit from this life in atonement; Eastern European mystics bring the dead back to life – what a horrible collection! So utterly morbid.

I enjoyed Ellis’ story Telling Tales where John puts the frighteners on a journalist by making up stories about the Royal Family being secretly reptiles and JFK being assassinated by aliens – it was imaginative, amusing and entertaining. Shoot, about a kid who shoots another kid in high school, was ok but I read it before in a collection of the same name. And, though Paul Jenkins’ Tell Me wasn’t that great, I liked Paul Pope’s art tell the story of a music critic’s love beyond the grave.

I like Warren Ellis, I sometimes like John Constantine, but Hellblazer: Haunted is a ghastly comic full of dark wretched unpleasantness for the sake of it. The unrelenting woe gets very boring long before the end and I was glad when it over – not recommended to anyone except edgelords!

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