Waiting For The Trade – John Constantine, Hellblazer: Scab

Scab

Writer: Peter Milligan

Pencillers: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Goran Sudzuka, Eddie Campbell

Inker: Rodney Ramos

Colourists: Jamie Grant, Dominic Regan

Letterer: Sal Cipriano, Jared K Fletcher

Covers: Lee Bermejo

Collects: Hellblazer 250-255

Let’s be clear on one thing first of all, I’m not a big Constantine fan. If you want to know who is to blame for the 30 odd JC (no I don’t mean the beardie one) trades sat on the shelf then you’re going to need to look elsewhere. I have however had a reasonable amount of Constantine either forced upon me or willingly self-inflicted. In my book this is a pretty middle-of-the-road offering for the Hellblazer title. It’s not terrible but it doesn’t really give me anything that I couldn’t read in a dozen other trades.

The trade itself contains three separate stories. Scab, Regeneration and The Curse of Christmas.

I’ll keep my review spoiler-free and say that Scab is about the karmic nature of magic, the title itself is a play on words referring to both physical scabs and also strike-breakers which both feature in the story and sees John held to account (again) for his previous misdeeds. As we join John he’s in a relationship with a Doctor called Phoebe and is doing his damnedest to put her off. Events from his past come calling and as one would expect this impacts the blossoming romance.

Regeneration is a look at the current efforts to build the infrastructure in London for the 2012 Olympics cast against some historical events on the same land and also referring to some of the potentially negative impact that hosting the world’s biggest sporting event can have.

And finally The Curse of Christmas, which features the art of Eddie “From Hell” Campbell is a bit of a 3-page stocking-filler with a festive theme.

For me none of the stories really take Constantine anywhere. We already know he has a shady past, we know magic has a history of repeating on him and that at times he’s a complete bastard. The art is serviceable, I much prefer the Camuncoli/Landini combo in Scab to Sudzuka’s “too-clean” work on Regeneration and Campbell’s stint is almost too short for any real style to come through.

Ultimately I think the book suffers at the hands of its predecessor. Andy Diggle’s run on Hellblazer was extremely strong and probably features two trades I’d put in my top 3 Hellblazer stories…in light of this Milligan had the deck stacked against him.

Rating: Thumb to the side

Reviewer: Dave Williams

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