John Constantine hasn’t always been the most congenial of fellows, but he’s no friend to prejudice and oppression. This version of the character has lived through the actual end of the world, but what really exhausts him is seeing how divided and ignorant the world of 2020 is.
Si Spurrier has his finger on the pulse of the people and the result is that each issue of this series feels exactly like what we need. The last issue, which was released right before DC delayed several books, praised the National Health Services during a time when healthcare workers were under an unimaginable amount of pressure.
This latest issue may have been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but its release date couldn’t be more appropriate.
This issue is all about how hate can poison the spirit and pervert any semblance of good that may have once existed. It also shows a character understanding that hate doesn’t just come from nowhere. It festers and grows like a cancer. This issue explores the idea that hate is the oldest, darkest kind of wicked magic. It’s also about how nothing changes as long as everyone stays quiet.
Aaron Campbell has brought us some wild battles and bizarre creature designs since the launch of this series, but nothing has come close to the maelstrom of horror on display here. The manifestation of this evil is an amorphous, undefinable thing, which is an incredible choice. When John even comes close to it, he’s shown a variety of angry iconography, showing the entity itself as a representation of unfocused and indeterminate hatred.
Even before John identifies how hateful and angry the entity is, we can see it for ourselves. It’s a mess of dark reds and greens and faceless evils. Campbell understands that hate doesn’t have a singular form and runs with that concept to incredible effect.
This awful force all over the place, lashing out as hard as it can with no rhyme or reason, other than to stamp out those it seems as “the other.” Campbell communicates all of this through some exceptional linework and a willingness to let this thing run wild. The “fight scenes” in this issue are the definition of “organized chaos.”
If you’re not reading Hellblazer, then please get on it. Moreover, this is the kind of story that will resonate with so many people who haven’t delved into the world of John Constantine. It’s a message that we all need to hear. There’s something ugly and wrong in the world and it needs to be overcome. As John learns here, it won’t be done by conventional methods.
This would be a standout issue of comics even if things weren’t the way they are now. The timely release of this story and the quality of the writing and artwork make this required reading. John Constantine: Hellblazer #6 is easily my favorite single issue of comics to be released this year.
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