Musings On Constantine: The Hellblazer #6 (And A Plug For Critical Writ)


I’m going to be completely honest. John Constantine has never been one of my favorite characters in the DC Comics universe. He’s never been one of my least favorite characters, either. Constantine has always just been there, sometimes popping up in comic trades that I get at the library. Some appearances are clever and interesting, others are boring and annoying.

In my ongoing quest to get caught up with the DC Comics universe, post New 52 and beyond, I included Justice League Dark on my list because I heard that it had Zatanna, who happened to be a really cool character. I saw that Constantine happened to be in it, along with an advertisement in the back of the trade for some of his collected editions. JLD was pretty good, disregarding some of the crossovers that it tied into. I found those issues to be confusing. After it reintroduced the House Of Secrets and the House Of Mystery into the mix, that was when it became positively delightful.

As for Constantine’s first New 52 series, I am sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy the majority of it. Some of the spells and monsters captured my interest, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. I know that Constantine isn’t meant to be the best of people, but he kept annoying me. A lot of his actions led to really depressing stories, I had no idea who the villains were, and, although this one is petty, it inexplicably annoyed me when Constantine constantly ended various sentences with ‘yeah.’ After I finished that trade, I soldiered on in my quest to get caught up and began reading the series that took place after that, Constantine: The Hellblazer.

Right from the start, I knew that it would be a very different experience. For one, James Tynion IV is one of the co-writers of the series. I love Mr. Tynion’s writing. To me, his work on any of the Batman-related books is superb. From Batman Eternal to the DC Rebirth incarnation of Detective Comics, his writing has never failed to engage me. Secondly, the series takes particular care in humanizing John. I slowly began to feel sorry for him as it shed more light on his past. I realize that the previous series also did this, but it just never emotionally clicked with me. Finally, the tone had a sprinkling of humor to it. Constantine is a jerk, albeit a sympathetic one, and a decent amount of humor can be mined from that.

The supporting characters also help make the comic fun. We have Walter, a demon who wears a suit and tie. In Constantine’s opinion, he is one of the world’s most boring demons, if not the most boring one ever. Next, we have a possible love interest in the form of Oliver, the owner of a cafe. Not only is it cool to see LGBT representation in a comic with Constantine being bisexual, it’s also very refreshing to have a well-written love interest in a comic, despite Oliver having very sparse appearances in the issues I’ve read.

If the previous five issues did not completely convince that the follow-up series would be more enjoyable, then number six absolutely cemented it. The plot revolves around Constantine going around the world to help innocent people with their various magical problems. Basically, he’s an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, cigarette-smoking Doctor Strange and that amuses me. At one point, he’s contacted by a family who needs an exorcist to get a demon out of their child’s body. As soon as John hears the demon, he recognizes him and offers to go get some drinks. The demon instantly obliges, and Constantine walks out, whistling and giving out his bill for services rendered.

Adding to the fun tone, I simply really enjoyed seeing the different kinds of creatures, magic, and mystical ailments. It brings a disturbing sense of whimsy to the comic. Constantine deals with gargoyles, doppelgangers, and dragons. Again, James Tynion IV and Ming Doyle bring some humor to the issue, with Constantine chewing out a family for immediately assuming that their house was haunted instead of calling animal control. With a cigarette in one hand and a furious raccoon in the other, he (hopefully jokingly) threatens to curse it and put it back in the walls. There’s even a shout-out to the popular horror-comedy podcast Welcome To Night Vale, with Constantine having to deal with hooded figures in the dog park. (In this particular instance, he tells them to stop attacking the dogs and just go buy some raw meat at the grocery store.)

So far, the series is an absolutely fabulous mixture of the magical and the mundane. I am pleasantly surprised by how delightful it really is. I’m actually disappointed that I’m almost halfway done with the series. I hope that the DC Rebirth comic will be just as pleasing.

Now that the review is done, I just have one more thing to say. How did you like my comic review? Was it fun to read? Do you want to read more of my reviews? If so, just head on over to Critical Writ! Critical Writ is a feminist, all-inclusive, geeky website run by my friends and I. I’ve been writing various reviews on comic books and Saturday Night Live for the site. Soon enough, I will be doing recaps of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to catch everyone up before the second season arrives on October 21st. What are you waiting for? Go, go, go! As always, have an excellent day.

‘Ms. Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children’ Trailer Review


I watched the trailer and had some thoughts. Might as well write them down, right? Continue reading

Futuristic Execution


Futuristic Execution

by Zachary Krishef

 

You enter the control room, filled with flashing lights, whirring fans, and blaring buzzers. Above the panel, there is a cloudy glass wall, smeared with stains. Inside, your subject slumbers in a completely white room, perfectly empty except for a wooden chair. Stretching your hands, you settle down in the thick easy chair, making sure to get comfortable before you begin your work.

 

A small green button near the right corner of the panel sends three low blasts into the room. They are unearthly, like the sounds of the undead, roasting in the lowest pits of Hell itself, groaning and grunting. BRING…BRING…BRING. With a start, your prisoner awakes, looking around the room in confusion. Shrieking, he leaps off the chair and runs at the panel, bashing it once, twice, three times! Each time, he slides off, leaving rivulets of blood oozing down.

 

You smile and deliberately turn a crank in the center of the panel, savoring the way it immediately responds to the gentlest of motions. At first, nothing appears to be happening. The man simply continues to whimper and moan, scanning the area for some means of escape. Suddenly, he began to sweat. A flash of mortal terror flashes across his face as he realizes what is going on.

 

You continue looping the crank, beaming as the temperature soars. Before long, the man is no longer running. Weak from the torridity, he is curled up, gasping for air. Sweat soaks his entire frame, collecting on the ground in a fetid pool. Showing no pity, you continue.

 

After two agonizing minutes, the edges of his ill-fitting orange jumpsuit begin to spark. The boiling air burns away the pool of perspiration in enormous clouds. His skin begins to melt away, leaving only a charred skeleton. Soon enough, even that becomes ashes. A maroon button near the upper portion of your panel sends a miniature robot out, vacuuming up the dusty remains.

 

With an air of relief, you bounce out of your chair and leave the room, briskly making your way through the hallway. As you exit the building and head into the outside world, you toss your stolen key away. Freedom is yours, once again.

A/N: Don’t read scary stories before bedtime, kids. You’ll wake up and write stuff like this.

Book Musings- Joyride by Anna Banks


It has been an incredibly long time ever since my last post and my last book review in general. This is due in part to simple laziness, school work, ending high school, beginning college, forgetting ideas for posts, and simply getting distracted by other things. However, one book that I recently finished has given me some food for thought. I do not know if I will continue to make book review posts in the future, but it is a possibility. As long as a book gives me plenty of things to write about, I would like to discuss it.

Joyride by Anna Banks:

Goodread’s description:

“A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.” 

Joyride first came out in July. It is the fourth book by Anna Banks, and her first standalone novel. At the time of this writing, I do not believe that a sequel has been announced. You may recognize the author’s name from the crew of the How To Train Your Dragon film series.

I was pleasantly surprised by Joyride. Initially, the description made me leery, as it sounded like a typical story where two teenagers from different backgrounds fall in love, despite clashing cultures and personalities. I admit, I am growing very tired of those types of realistic fiction books, as they tend to be, for lack of a better term, boring. Joyride is anything but boring. Right from the second sentence, Mrs. Banks demonstrates a knack for writing humorous dialogue and thought processes, as well as a compelling protagonist. In addition, several important topics for teenagers are addressed throughout the book, such as illegal immigration, racism, white privilege, and low-income families. Additionally, it is nice to read a YA book that features a female protagonist who is a person of color.

On the negative side, the book is told from a dual perspective. Alternating chapters will feature Carly’s point of view in the first person, and then Arden’s point of view in the third person. The difference in literary angles is mostly likely meant to avoid confusing Arden and Carly’s speaking styles, but that problem could be solved by having their names above the chapter, as commonly shown in other books. This difference in outlook also makes Arden’s chapters seem more stilted in comparison, although that could be attributed to his character.

Secondly, I am not entirely convinced that the pair would fall in love, based on several of Arden’s actions. To name a fraction of his exploits, he holds up a convenience store at gunpoint, stalks several characters, forcibly grabs Arden, and insults Carly in front of multiple people, albeit accidentally. He seems like a more likable and kindhearted character after they inevitably get together, but this could stem from Carly’s chapters now being written from the altered point of view of being attracted to him.

Lastly, some of the stereotypical gender roles in the novel irk me. At one point, Carly observes that Arden’s coffeemaker is mostly likely owned by his mother, as it’s not appropriate for someone as “manly” as him. Granted, given an earlier comment about the alleged manliness of drinking only black coffee, that may have been intended as humorous, but it still annoyed me.

Overally, I would recommend Joyride. The good points just barely outweigh the flaws, owing to the relevant social issues, humor, and diversity.

Sources: “Joyride.” Goodreads. Goodreads Inc, n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2015. <https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22718685-joyride&gt;.

Banks, Anna. Joyride. New York: Feiwel & Friends, 2015. Print.