John Constantine: Hellblazer #7 Review

by Nick Devonald on June 23, 2020

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Aaron Campbell
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

Hellblazer may be a story filled with the supernatural and otherworldly, but at its core it works so well because the stories are human. The magic is just a plot telling device, a way to explore these tales, which at their heart are stories of people. Usually at their worst. Constantine finds himself exploring the seediest underbellies and darkest corners of humanity, and once you strip away everything else these are very human tales.

Hellblazer #7 is the start of a new mini-series, “Britannia, Rule The Waves” and is a dark story about love and exploitation. It also, since this is a comic about the supernatural, involves fishermen and mermaids. Simon Spurrier was born to write Hellblazer, and with this run has established himself amongst the greats like Jamie Delano and Garth Ennis.

This story delves deep into the lengths that people go when they’re desperate, when they’ve been ostracised by their peers, and the lengths they’ll go to in an effort to earn respect. Spurrier doesn’t shy away from the more deplorable acts, instead he makes them the focus of the story. In many ways this issue is a character study into a particularly insidious example of humanity. But where the writing works is that readers can understand the choices that Freddie, the antagonist, has made, even while we’re disgusted by them.

Spurrier is also quick to draw parallels between the villain of the piece and Constantine. He introduces the comic in a way that readers will think it’s John himself who’s being described, before we realise it’s not. And then he keeps the twists and the darkness coming. Constantine is, undoubtably, a terrible person who constantly hurts those around him. But it’s his compassion, his conscience, which makes him a fantastic protagonist and keeps the reader coming back around and rooting for him. This is the side we see of Constantine today and it’s brilliant.

It also continues the theme of hate and bigotry that has been prevalent through this run. It was the focus of the last issue and continues here. What is clever about Spurriers writing is that it doesn’t preach or frown upon the behaviour, rather it shows us how easily and misguided the spread of hate, distrust and racism is. And by not preaching, rather showing the effects, it is so much more effective in showing the reader that this is wrong.

Aaron Campbells art has become synonymous with Spurrier’s run on Hellblazer. It’s an incredibly unique style that doesn’t shy away from the darker and grittier aspects of Hellblazer, rather it embraces them in all their horror and pulls them to the forefront. Campbell’s London doesn’t feel fictional in the way that most comics do. When he draws the fish market at the start of the issue the reader can practically smell the fish and hear the hustle and bustle. And that’s the first couple of pages. Each of the different settings feel so lifelike and real.

Jordie Bellaire’s colours are used to great effect in this issue. As the story is told to Constantine her colours tell the truth behind the words that the mermaid tells. It’s a brilliant storytelling device and adds layers to an already complicated tale. Bellaire and Campbell are an incredibly talented pairing and couple that with Spurrier’s outstanding writing and it’s a perfect match.

Yet another outstanding issue, it’s dark and seedy, a character study into a twisted man and the effects of isolation. The art brings Constantine’s London to life in a way which not many comics can achieve. With these seven issues Spurrier establishes himself as one of the great Hellblazer writers, easily on the same level as Delano or Ennis.

Our Score:


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