Hellblazer #276 - 'High-Frequency Man' - Milligan and Bisley
Story - In my review of the last issue of Hellblazer for this very site's front page, I discussed the idea of long-established comics characters getting married, and how for some, the progression works, Reed Richards and Sue Storm getting married made sense, for example. But I felt that for others, such as Superman and Spider-Man, marriage wasn't the right choice, and robbed the character's of some of their fundamental natures. Which camp would John Constantine fall into? Would his marriage to Epiphany Greaves change him for the better? Or for the worse? It's not a case of 'In Sickness and In Health', it's an either/or.
Now, one issue isn't really enough to judge, but on the basis of this issue, the marriage has managed the difficult feat of changing the character of Constantine, but not neutering him, not robbing him of his Constantininess. He's still very much the same character, and he still does very bad things.
One of the things I've liked best about Peter Milligan's run on Hellblazer is how he's sort of returned to the character's politically charged 80s roots, and put Hellblazer into various situations which relate to modern society (albeit with magic thrown in). This month, the book tackles the Financial Crisis, in it's own small way, tying in ancient Druids with an unscrupulous banker trying to get Constantine out of his flat so he can gentrify the area. The London John Constantine originally lived in is now gone, and it's interesting to see how Constantine tries to maintain his grotty roots. The way he treats the Financier may be overly harsh, but that's just who Constantine is. In current UK society, a spot of 'Banker Bashing' is all the rage, and it was cathartic to see John dispatch one of the people who's reckless, feckless thinking led us all up shit creek. It's brilliant what this book can get away with really. (I also loved the idea that having your house be haunted would actually drive the price up these days, a nice bit of social commentary).
Overall, this was only a fairly average done-in-one issue of Hellblazer, not a patch on some of the other stories Milligan has been writing, but it does a good job of telling a complete story in one issue, and also of giving us a first glimpse of the new world of married John Constantine... it's pretty much the same as the old world.
Art - Simon Bisley has been doing issues here and there throughout Milligan's run (as well as covers), and I think his grimy style is perfect for the book. It may be exaggerated at points, like when John and Epiphany are in the world's smallest bath, but when he unleashes the grotesquerie of what happens to Marcus Molloy, there's nobody better.
Best Line - 'Okay, at twelve, I met the Devil. At Fifteen I fucked my first Succubus' And this is our hero!