After the shocking final page of last month’s issue, I could not wait to see how the rest of this story arc played out. I was not disappointed. There’s a darkly poetic tone to this storyline, particularly in the way in which Si Spurrier and Aaron Campbell show the truth vs. how the narrator perceived things.
That’s the biggest hook of this second half of the story. We see the young fisherman as exactly the selfish and cruel bastard he is, but we also see how the mermaid was completely blinded by her love and devotion. No matter how powerful she was, she never really stood a chance.
Still, Constantine does his best for her. It’s a good reminder that we are dealing with a somewhat more evolved version of John here, one who has vague memories of the apocalypse he barely escaped and a greater concern for seeing justice done. We get to see how John came across this case in the first place, and his guilt is palpable. It’s not often that we see John hesitate like he does when talking to the mermaid.
There are some truly horrific images in the second half of this particular issue. Outside of the massacre on the boat, the reveal of some particular half-human creatures is an image that is still stuck in my head as I write this review. Aaron Campbell really brings the horror here while Jordie Bellaire bathes everything in sickening reds and swirling greens.
Also of note is the lettering from Aditya Bidikar. Smaller lettering is used to great effect, showing how defeated and helpless John feels as the story progresses. It’s an excellent touch among the blood and guts that humanizes John — which is extra important given how the issue ends.
We get a little more insight into the big bad of the series’ style of magic. Learning a little bit more about that nicely ties together the disparate threads of the other horrors John has encountered since this series launched.
While this is a tremendously effective second half to “Britannia, Rule the Waves,” there was something about it that didn’t quite reach the emotional heights of the first part. Maybe it was the stronger emphasis on the violence or the odd way that John leaves the scene at the end of the issue. Something about the tone of some parts of this issue didn’t hit the same mark as last month’s issue. This has still been an exceptional storyline, however, and Hellblazer continues to be the book at the top of my recommendations to fellow comic book readers.
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