Why Hellblazer is the comic we NEED right now

by Nick Devonald on December 15, 2019

In the wake of Thursdays general election in the UK, and the results on Friday, I can’t help but feel Hellblazer is the comic that we NEED right now, both here in the UK and the world in general. I’ll try to share my reasons for this without diving too much into the politics. There's a number of reasons for that, although first and foremost this is as a comic book website which isn't exactly the venue for deep political analysis. Also nobody wants to hear me ramble on about politics, people come here for comic book reviews.

At its most basic a comic book is just another form of storytelling, with it’s own unique strengths and weaknesses. Most people think of comics and think superheroes, whether that’s Superman, Batman, Iron Man or Thor, or whoever. Those in the know understand that a comic is a great medium for telling all manner of stories, and doesn’t need to be limited to those. And like other mediums for telling stories a story can work on more than one level. Yes we might have the hero versus the villain. And for some people that's enough and they won't take anything else away. But then there are stories with morals and themes running through it which people can relate to. Sometimes it can be about deeper stories that linger long after you’ve finished turning the pages and put it down. Sometimes it can be a running commentary on real life events.

And now I'm getting to the crux of the reason I believe Simon Spurrier writing Hellblazer is so important. Hellblazer has always had a political commentary running in the background. It’s always been subtle and never overly in your face but it was always there. As a fellow Brit it’s always stood out as one of the things that make it what it is and place it so firmly in Britain. And while it’s nice to be able to reread these older issues and place the issues in their time, it’s never felt more relevant (at least to me) as it does today.

Brexit was briefly mentioned in the Sandman Presents Hellblazer #1, then in John Constantine Hellblazer #1 we even had a brief cameo from a certain prime minister. They were background details. They didn’t distract or detract from the story, and I’m sure in the rest of the world the stories could be read with little or no context to those references. But it was nice because it was real and it was relevant, not in the past but right now.

Last week Simon Spurrier was inspired to post a snippet from Hellblazer #6’s script because of how important and relevant it is. This was before the disappointing results revealed on Friday.

How powerful is that writing? I defy anyone living in the UK not to be moved by that. While the politics are British first and foremost, this is something that anyone can relate to. In the uncertain times ahead this is something we need. It’s still escapism but it helps remind us that we’re not alone. Someone who will tell it like it is. Read that script, “A little moment of genuine sentiment from our veteran cynic.” That alone speaks volumes. Without beating about the bush John’s an utter bastard, no two ways about it. And here he is, able to have a brutally honest look at one of the greatest things about our country and recognise it for what it is, and the uncertainty the election results call into question about it’s future. I think this is a scary time to be in Britain right now. But it’s nice to know we’re not alone.

I think Simon Spurrier writing Hellblazer is so important for the UK right now. The views he’s shared on twitter reassure me he’s got his head screwed on and it’s nice to have someone like that on our side. And if he can share even some of these views with readers that’s great. Bringing a glimmer of light in an increasingly dark world. While it might sound like a contradiction to talk about Constantines regular dark stories and cynism as a source of hope that's what it represent. It says you aren't alone. And as the almost certain tough times arrive in the near future knowing that makes it seem a little less bleak. So thank you Simon, may you please continue to write such compelling stories which have the power to move us.

Of course Fridays results isn't all bad news, one good thing to come out of it is that Spurrier won’t be short of material to write for years to come.

Also it’s a damn good comic and in these troubling times who doesn’t need a little bit of escapism in our lives?