Waiting For The Trade – Hellblazer: Pandemonium

Writer: Jamie Delano
Artist: Jock
Letterer: Clem Robins

This OGN celebrates the 25th Anniversary of John Constantine’s first appearance in the pages of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and marks the return of Jamie Delano to the writer’s chair. If I remember my lore correctly, Delano was recommended by Alan Moore as the man for the job when it came to spinning off everyone’s favourite Sting lookalike into his own book. Delano wrote the majority of the first 40 issues of the ongoing series before leaving the character for the best part of 20 yrs. He’s teamed here with the fantastic Jock, writing a review for anything Jock’s worked on is always a bonus as he is the ultimate one-man-band, so there’s no tracking who did layouts, pencils, inks, colours etc…it’s Just Jock©

One thing which isolates Constantine from the cape & tights crowd is that he ages as the publishing years go by…what was an enigmatic 30-something is now in his mid to late 50s and is feeling the burden of his years. Given that DC are trying to pull characters from vertigo back into mainstream DC titles I do wonder how they’d handle JC’s ageing. As we join John he’s “squatting” in some poor schmucks flat in Canary Wharf, the schmuck in question being currently detained at her Majesty’s pleasure and thus providing John with a nice low-rent place to lay his head.

Taking a morning stroll he’s drawn to the British Museum where during a terrorist incident he meets a female Muslim, Aseera, who’s the main protagonist alongside Constantine himself. John being John he gets shafted and ends up in way over his head with people that he really would rather not be messing with, which leads to the majority of this book taking place in Iraq with John tasked to deal with a demonic presence that’s found its way into British detention.

I won’t go much further than that as I try to keep the reviews spoiler free but as ever John has the unsettling habit of pushing everyone’s buttons, and treating the whole thing as a game even when the stakes could not be higher.

Ang is the Hellblazer expert, so I can’t tell you how this compares to the other 20 or so trades that we own as many of them I’ve not read. However this story is pretty good, it didn’t knock my socks off but it was enjoyable and in the end you got to see why it doesn’t pay to screw with John Constantine. Delano overdoes the real-world commentary for me a little bit, with references to events such as the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, and it feels a bit too much like a lecture in places.

The art is Jock’s typical A game, this kind of down-to-earth (which is an odd way of describing a story featuring demons) setting suits him down to a tee.

Reviewer: Dave Williams

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