John Constantine: Hellblazer #8 Review

by Nick Devonald on July 29, 2020

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

This issue concludes the ‘Britannia, Rule the Waves’ storyline started in the previous issue. If we move past the magical shell and mermaids, the real story is one of an abusive relationship. It had reached the stage where it didn’t matter what Freddie did, the Mermaid doted on him, blind to his flaws and blaming herself for his moods. No matter what levels he sank to she was oblivious, due only in small part to the power the shell held over her.

And just when the reader thought they’d witnessed Freddie at his most depraved, the reveal at the end of the last issue showed us he’d saved the worst for last, and when the bounty he felt he was due was denied him he turned to his mermaid lover and had begun cutting her up to sell. It was a hell of an effective shock cliff-hanger at the end of the issue and showed the reader that Freddie was even more of a horrible s**t than we’d realised. True to Johns promise at the end of the last issue, payback is something he can help with, and most of this issue is focused on that, along with Constantine’s own involvement within the story.

What’s been effective about this story is the way that the mermaid is telling John her interpretation of events, while simultaneously the reader is seeing the truth and understanding the reality behind her stories. Hellblazer by its very nature delves into some dark areas, but Spurriers run seems determined to delve deep into the worst recesses of the human psyche.

The conclusion to the story is a particularly fitting one, and while it was clear from the last issue this wasn’t going to be a story with a happy ending it’s fair to say John deals out justice as only he can, and it’s a satisfying end to the story.

One of the strengths of Spurrier’s run on Hellblazer has been the way he’s not tied into writing long storyarcs. Too many comics find them constrained with the story they’re telling, having a story arc lasting five or six issues long to satisfy the Publishers desire for a graphic novel length story. That format doesn’t suit Hellblazer, and it frees Spurrier up to tell the story he wants to tell. It’s working fantastically so far, and has made for some of the most memorable Hellblazer stories in the thirty-five years since his first appearance. People will be talking about classics like the recent ‘Quiet’ for years to come.

The art from Aaron Campbell is as extraordinary as ever. He brings the darker elements of London to life with exquisite detail, his take on John is distinctive and brilliant, and he mixes the supernatural elements in fantastically. His style is not only welcome with Hellblazer, it’s like this is a comic he was born to draw. Campbell and Spurrier are a match made in Heaven (or perhaps their partnership is down to a deal made elsewhere) and give Constantine his own incredible style.

But Campbells drawing is only half the picture. It’s when he’s paired up with Jordie Bellaire’s colours that the comic becomes something truly special. Her colours are fantastic and just as key to telling the story as any other part. In previous reviews I’ve commented that when a colourist does their job right they blend into the background, and it takes something truly fantastic to draw attention to the work they do. Each issue that Bellaire colours does exactly that.

Each subsequent issue takes us deeper into the seedier elements of John’s London, the human psyche, and the depravities that people do to each other. The supernatural elements allow Spurrier to tell the story he wants, but each story is very human and grounded in reality. One of, if not THE, best ongoing series of 2020. Do yourself a favour and pick this comic up now.

Our Score:


A Look Inside