I'm really getting into Hellblazer and I am looking to purchase a few trade collections/graphic novels.
Can anyone who is a fan post their favaourite titles? Money is limited so I'm going to buy about one a month for a while. Want to start off with some great ones.
Then again, is it worth starting from the beginning or are there a few standouts that I should go straight to?
Azzarello's run Hard Time is amazing, and the new Dc crime novel crime novel starring John Constantine is great. And Steve Dillon and Garth Ennis were great on this title too.
John Constantine has had many permutations since he first appeared in "Swamp Thing". I would recommend going back to his first appearance in "Swamp Thing" #37. The reason being that John was much more grittier then. He went into a biker bar in the South and threatened a local with only a stare. It sounds a little ridiculous and it was. He didn't have a long run in "Swamp Thing" but he was interesting because he was not the star. He looked very much like Sting and he was far more mysterious.
I have read "Hellblazer" from Jaimie Delano's run through Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, and Peter Milligan and Brian Azzerello. I skipped Mike Carey's run because, well, he was just average. The best of the writers on the book was Garth Ennis. Jaime Delano had some interesting plots, especially with some genuine horror elements, but his writing was quite poor. It was like a college poetry student had taken over a book about a cold, mean street magician. There were panel descriptions that did not fit the character. I have the first trade, "Original Sins" and it is just chaotic. John is jumping from America to Africa to England in search of a demon that makes people eat themselves until they explode. It was actually worse than my description just now. When Garth Ennis finally took over from issue #41 with Will Simpson doing the art, it was a breath of fresh air. He got rid of all of the character's pretensions and took him back to Alan Moore (and Steven Bissette's and crew) roots. John became again a chain smoking user who used his wits more than "magic". He was not some arch mage or "fruity magician" but a street corner hustler. The trade that collect Garth Ennis' first run is called "Dangerous Habits". It was the basis for the movie, "Constantine". The plot is simple and interesting. John contracts cancer from smoking cigarettes for forty odd years and has to deal with the consequence: cancer, death, and damnation. What is interesting was that Garth Ennis followed the traditional "superhero" Constantine ( contrary to what some fans may claim, the character is a superhero) but added a layer of real world problems and adult problems. John's girl friend gets hurt in the process. John even goes through one of the most painful problems for a man: depression after a break up. Will Simpson was not the greatest artist but he had a good handle on John. His layouts were a little too messy. Sometimes his figures could be sloppy, but he was a good artist for mood and atmosphere. When Steve Dillion joined the team, "Hellblazer" was one of my favorite books. I bought about thirty to forty back issues within a month.
Garth Ennis' run ends after issue #83 with the story arc "Rake at the Gates of Hell". And, that title is fitting. John was a rake by the standard English definition. He was an alcoholic, a sinner and somewhat morally bankrupt. But he also had a deep love of friendship, was heroic and cared for others. What was fun about this story arc was that we get to see some of the early ideas that ended up in "Preacher" another work by Garth Ennis. Religion and faith and responsibility were the heavy themes at the end. But there was also humor. John even smoked the Swamp Thing when he came to visit him during his birthday. And John managed to pee on the Phantom Stranger during a break from the party.
After Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion, the stories seemed to be either retreads to just uninteresting. Peter Milligan and Sean Phillips were a bad match. The artwork was so murky at times, I had a hard time reading the stories. And as far as Brian Azzarello, he had humor in his stories but not much. The best of his stories was "Hard Times". That is the story where John is in America and in goes to prison. It was fun, but it really did not add much to the canon.
I hope that helps.
Wow, you really know your stuff. Will check out the Swamp Thing first then Dangerous Habits. Really appreciate the feedback from the both of you in this thread.
Originally Posted by Lonrott
I'm just starting to read hellblazer from the start. I have caught the odd book once in awhile and really enjoyed it and it's something i've been meaning to do for years especially after reading sandman(seems like the same kind of thing ish). I keep hearing about Garth Ennis's run and how good it is, i'm about 8 issues before i get into him and the story seems to have alot of ups and downs as far as quality. The family man was pretty good, but the fear machine was just odd in that it didn't seem executed well.