Each writer on “Hellblazer” over the years has brought in their own cast of supporting characters to interact with John Constantine, and more often than not they’re killed off in a gory and spectacular manner by the time they exit. (There are a few notable exceptions, with Chas being the one constant from start to finish, but generally it’s a path we’ve seen poor John go down time and time again.) So with that in mind, it’s interesting to see Peter Milligan be the writer to actually have John Constantine marry one of his girlfriends, because the logical question to follow is, “Will the marriage survive Milligan’s run on the book?”
Skipping that thought about the future for now, though, in terms of here-and-now “Hellblazer” #275 is an entertaining comic. Milligan brings back several faces from the past, those lucky few who managed to survive. Most notably of course is Kit Ryan from Garth Ennis’s run, the girlfriend whom all others are compared to some 200 issues later. Kit and John’s reunion is actually one of the weakest points of the book, unfortunately; we get the inevitable comparison between Kit and bride-to-be Epiphany, and it feels more like Milligan is trying to sell the reader on Epiphany rather than an actual conversation between the pair of them.
Fortunately, the rest of the issue isn’t so rough. Not all the returning characters are there to wish John well, after all, and while you’d be naÃ¯ve to assume that no one would cause a problem, I am impressed that Milligan was able to mix the obvious and the unexpected into the course of the issue. There are several easy outs provided along the way, after all, but when the dust settles it’s a satisfying comic that promises a rather interesting future status quo for our John Constantine. It helps that Milligan has done a good job over the past few issues of setting this story up; not only with the return of the demon Nergal several months ago, but also with all of the pieces needed to stop Nergal being quietly collected right under our noses. That to me is exactly how a “Hellblazer” story should run; nothing’s really out of the blue, and it’s a reminder that John Constantine isn’t just lucky (if you can call it luck) but someone who is smart enough to think ahead and prepare for all contingencies.
After having Simon Bisley draw the 1979 sequences of the previous four issues, it’s nice to see Guiseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini use that extra breathing room to knock out all of this issue. Or at least, almost all of this issue, with Shawn Martinbrough providing finishes over Camuncoli for four pages. I’m still loving the Camuncoli and Landini collaboration on “Hellblazer,” with his expressive faces and great poses. (This is, after all, an art team who can differentiate between two identical characters by how they draw one of them with hate-filled eyes.) One of my favorite moments in the comic, artistically, is Epiphany and her friends hanging out on a rooftop and drinking champagne. From the dangling of their legs, to the discarded bottles rolling off to one side, it’s a great piece of art (and one I’d love to have on my wall). And while I was less than crazy about the writing in the John and Kit scene, Camuncoli and Landini channel their inner Steve Dillon to give Kit her trademark soft hair and eyes in a sudden moment of peace.
My only art niggle is that Camuncoli and Martinbrough’s styles don’t mesh that well. Even if you aren’t counting the pages to figure out where Martinbrough steps in for those four pages, it’s instantly obvious when you get to them. Some of the finer details are lost, and it makes you appreciate how well Camuncoli and Landini work together. Martinbrough’s an excellent artist in his own right, and I think at the end of the day it just goes to show that not all artists are meant to work together.
So, best wishes to John Constantine and Epiphany Greaves! Hopefully it’ll be a wedding that lasts a long time, because it’s the sort of match that you can see actually working. And if and when Milligan leaves the book, here’s hoping Epiphany gets to survive the transition to another writer. It’s a dangerous game being around Constantine, but Milligan seems to have created a character that could weather those odds.