John Constantine: Hellblazer #9 Review

by Nick Devonald on August 25, 2020

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Matías Bergara
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

Another incredible issue in one of Hellblazer’s most outstanding runs, it makes it all the more bittersweet following the recent news that Hellblazer #12 will mark the end of this exceptionally good series. Simon Spurrier feels like he was destined to carry on the Hellblazer legacy from the classic Vertigo run of 300 issues, he captures the brilliance of it and brings it to a modern audience. It feels less restrained than most ongoing series have done, there isn’t the standard five or six part story designed to fill a trade, rather Spurrier tells the stories he wants to tell in the nature length of time it takes to tell them. What we have here, with The Favourite, is a classic one-shot which tells a complete story, a perfect issue to pick up if you haven’t been following along with the series and find out if it’s for you or not. At the same time it continues on with the ongoing story of the series, namely Old Man John and his dastardly plans for Great Britain.

This issue is also a return for Matías Bergara, stepping in for Aaron Campbell with art duties. Like his previous two-part story, this issue feels a lot more light-hearted and funnier than the usual stories do. It’s a chance for Spurrier to tell different styles of stories, in keeping with the usual but a bit of a different spin. This latest story involves the Royals and horse racing, embracing yet more of the British-ness which has been so prevalent throughout the series. And it’s this inherent Britishness of the series which again is one of its strengths. Like how many Marvel series are defined by New York, London helps to define Hellblazer. The last two issues introduced his take on Mermaids, vastly different from the standard Mermaid fare. And while we won't reveal anything else about this issues plot other than it involves horse-riding, it's fair to say that this is not My Little Pony.

This story has it all, it’s funny, but gets quite dark as well. It embraces everything about Hellblazer that makes it work, is consistent with previous stories but also has its own identity. We also get brief cameo’s from Nat and Tommy Willow-Tree, both of whom have been absent in recent issues. Always a delight whenever those two pop up.

Matías Bergara’s art style is vastly different from Aaron Campbells, but is an incredibly natural fit for the style of story which Spurrier is telling here. Hellblazer has a style and an identity very much its own, which both Bergara and Campbell are responsible for despite their wildly different styles. His style is so different from Campbells, it's refreshing that a second artist on the series doesn't feel the need to emulate Campbells efforts, rather Bergara crafts his own style which is perfectly in keeping with the feel of the series.

Hellblazer is THE BEST ongoing series out there, not renewing it after issue 12 is a travesty. Pick this comic up now, it’ll stand the test of time and will be remembered as one of, if not THE, best runs on Hellblazer. Tell your friends to buy a copy, buy an extra copy for them. Will it be enough to convince DC to carry this series on? Who knows, but a series which is consistently number one on comic book round up deserves an opportunity to prove itself. A different tone than previous issues, its still everything which is excellent about Hellblazer.

Our Score:


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