Freezes Over

Author: Brian Azzarello
Artists: Marcelo Frusin, Guy Davis and Steve Dillon
Titan Books
RRP: £12.99
ISBN 1 84023 531 3
Available now

No one knows that the hearts of men are colder than ice better than John Constantine, who has forgotten more about evil than most people will ever know. The cost of that knowledge has been high, but luckily for Constantine there have always been plenty of others around to help share the pain. Now, as he continues his cross-country trek through America's darkened backroads, he continues to find that the one thing he can count on - and exploit - is mankind's everyday viciousness...

Freezes Over collects together two Hellblazer stories. First up is the four part Freezes Over, which is followed by the two part Lapdogs and Englishmen. Strangely enough I felt that the two stories should have been switched, as Freezes Over really does drag over four parts and Lapdogs and Englishmen tries to cram a little too much into its two parts.

There really isn't enough material in Freezes Over, a problem that could have been resolved if more use had been made of some of the other characters that were stranded in the pub. The writer could have delved a little more into their backgrounds to see whether they were all as innocent as they claimed. The conclusion is neat and will produce a wry smile, but there are many questions left unanswered.

Lapdogs and Englishmen takes a dive into Constantine's past, when he was a punk. The story doesn't gel as well as previous Hellblazer stories, but then that may be due to the fact that the darker side of his persona is absent. Here we see Constantine as a young, fairly average, teenager without a care in the world. It could have been a story about any youngster growing up - the fact that it is Constantine is neither here nor there.

All in all this graphic novel is not as smart as it could have been - although it gives the impression that it is trying to be a lot smarter than it actually is.

Average, in a word.

Pete Boomer

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