Si Spurrier is doing an interesting thing with his run on Hellblazer, in that each arc seems to be focused on a different facet of hate. The first story is based on blind hate, the second feels like it’s about self-doubt and self-hatred, last month’s issue is about the hate that causes people to lash out with no regard for rationality, and this issue feels like it’s about how hateful people can be when trying to prop themselves up.
Through Hellblazer, Si Spurrier and Aaron Campbell appear to be exploring the human condition and the divide between people that continues to grow with every day. In more ways than one, this is Hellblazer for the Brexit generation. There’s a fear of the unfamiliar that permeates every panel and the dialogue from every lost soul that John Constantine encounters.
The narration throughout this issue is gorgeous. At first, it almost comes off as a bit too flowery, but it slowly becomes clear why that is the case. The reveal of the narrator is wonderfully done, subverting the expectations of the folks who have been following this volume of Hellblazer.
Aaron Campbell’s artwork evokes so many different moods, which also perfectly suits this story. We see the narrator’s passion in their every motion, while the villain of the piece is shown to be as feckless and selfish as Constantine assumes him to be. There is a “love scene” near the end of the issue that shows how invested each person is in the act, and it’s a fantastic choice. There’s no doubt for the reader how we are meant to feel about this moment.
The narration really comes to life thanks to the lettering from Aditya Bidikar. There are moments where it seems as though the narrator gets lost in the emotion of the story, like the words are being choked off. This is beautifully shown through a few instances where the lettering becomes lowercase, as well as a few moments where the prose is spaced out in some interesting ways.
Without spoiling the ending to this story (or the reveal of the narrator), I will say that this issue’s final page actually broke my heart. It’s been a while since I audibly gasped while reading a comic book, and I can’t wait to see how John makes this right.
Spurrier and co. are on a roll here. It’s wonderfully telling that John knows who is behind his recent hardships, but still refuses to acknowledge the nature of his enemy directly. John has always had a problem with confronting his own demons. Spurrier has just made that basic component of the character more literal than ever.