GRAPHIC NOVEL
Hellblazer
Original Sins

Author: Jamie Delano
Artists: John Ridgway and Alfredo Alcala
Titan Books
RRP: 12.99, US $19.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 8457 6465 4
ISBN-10: 1 84576 465 X
Available 23 February 2007


As one of the few practitioners to have a grasp of magic's true potential, Constantine is too shrewd to lose himself in it completely - but he cannot escape its hold, or its accompanying dangers. Unfortunately, while he may understand the real price of power, there's a never-ending supply of amateurs out there eager to sign away everything for a taste of it - and like it or not, Constantine's hard-won knowledge guarantees that he'll always be in the middle of the mess that follows...

Original Sins reprints some of the classic Hellblazer stories. It's the late 1980's: when yuppie demons roam the Earth, trading the futures of souls; the "greed is good" mentality is twisted into a worldwide plague; ghosts come home from Vietnam; and Heaven and Hell alike try to raise up armies for the apocalypse. Only one man can stop their interference with our lives... if he can be bothered.

The fact that the writers go all political on the readership is a little disappointing. The government of the day (Thatcher's reign in this instance) is always an easy target, but politics is not something Hellblazer fans have come to expect. These digs are a little lazy and make it appear like a student rag. Thankfully this doesn't really reflect too badly on the collection as a whole - as the political stance of the writer only raises its head briefly, and then everything returns to some demon kicking - which is how things should be.

The only story that let this collection down, for me, was the Vietnam ghost story When Johnny Comes Marching Home. It is incredibly slow and rather dull, and neither offers anything new on the countless Vietnam tales that have been told already, nor forwards Constantine's character in any real way. It's a bit of a lame ghost story that feels a little out of place here.

Now, it may seem that I had a downer on this collection - nothing could be further from the truth. It's just that these quibbles were a minor hiccup in an otherwise faultless collection. Demons, religious cults, plagues of flies and a creature created by the body parts of a group of vicious skinheads - in a freakish Frankenstein's monster sort of way - all present serious headaches for Constantine.

If you want to get your hands on some classic Hellblazer then this collection is a must own.

Nick Smithson

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