Hellblazer #261

Written by Peter Milligan
Layouts by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Finishes by Stefano Landini
32 pages, color
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

It’s nice to see that Peter Milligan, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Stefano Landini’s run on Hellblazer is still going strong. When the run first began, it was certainly moving over some familiar territory. What I hadn’t expected to see, though, is an extended riff on the idea of what happens when John Constantine loses and then frantically tries to make things right. It’s the sort of story that normally would have truncated itself by now; Constantine screws up, mopes for an issue or two, and then it’s soon forgotten. Here, Milligan lets Constantine’s mistakes continually hover over his head. Maybe it’s that Milligan is letting the character feel his age, understand that he’s at the point where he can’t stop walking away from his errors? Or perhaps Milligan just thought it would be interesting to explore the idea a little further than most writers on Hellblazer have gone. Either way, I’m not complaining.

Milligan and company are also taking Constantine out of his normal confines of Great Britain, although admittedly in the case of his destination of India, it’s a former British colony. Still, they’re using it well; there’s a sharp comment or two about the stereotypical ideas that people carry around towards the country and its spirituality. On the down side, Milligan’s also going for the stereotype of the seedy human trafficking underbelly of India, which just goes to show that it’s impossible to break away entirely from some perceptions. Still, with Camuncoli and Landini drawing the book so beautifully, it’s hard to get too worked up over the idea. How they aren’t super stars in comics is a mystery to me. At the end of the day, Milligan, Camuncoli, and Landini are an excellent reminder of why Hellblazer can have over 260 issues and still tell new and fresh stories.

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