Nathan's Reviews > Hellblazer: The Fear Machine

Hellblazer by Jamie Delano
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's review
Mar 04, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: dark, fun-entertaining, fantastic, graphic-novels, mythology, quick-reads
Read in January, 1997

Hellblazer Book 3: "The Fear Machine" collects Hellblazer issues #14-22. Other than the covers, there doesn't seem to be any big difference between the initial 2008 printing and the 2013 reprint.

Okay -- this is one of my favorite Hellblazer books of all time. This seems to be an unusual opinion, as many seem to really dislike it. Maybe it's because my first exposure to Hellblazer was Delano's issue #1 while most people seem to have gotten into Hellblazer either during Garth Ennis' run (#41-83) or Brian Azzarello's run (#146-167). Or maybe it's because I'm personally more of a pagan hippie type at heart than a hard-bitten smoke-dwelling city guy. Either way, while I love the standard John Constantine character and setting and I'm glad they went back to it, I love this little glimpse of another side of him, a look at one of his efforts at washing away the "bad craziness" and trying to have a good life. Good characters like Mercury, Marj, Errol, and Zed don't hurt, and neither does the rather sexy and ecstatic pagan magic John discovers as he explores a greener side of himself.

Again, as is typical for its time, the art here is a bit garish and not incredibly detailed, but as with the previous book, it improves a bit over its predecessor. The storyline deals with John running from the authorities after Nergal killed some people and left him with the blame; he meets up with a precocious and strangely empowered young girl named Mercury, and through her comes to join up with a group of roving hippie mystics -- not to mention stumbling across a secretive and powerful para-governmental group whose leaders take a disturbing interest in Mercury. The story deals with the balance of energies, the discrepancy between morality and authority in terms of power, destiny and powers beyond knowledge, and a secret society with fragmented aims and methods.

The only things I can think of that would improve this book are the following: First, if the "Bloody Saint" story from the Hellblazer Annual had been included here, instead of being included in the previous book (Hellblazer The Devil You Know). The tales of Constantine's ancestor, the cunning pagan king Constantyne, and his role in helping to unbalance the scales in favor of the God over the Goddess -- well, that's right in keeping with the story of The Fear Machine.

And second, the story seems to wander and get lost every now and then, and though this isn't terrible, it could perhaps have used a little more focus and drive at times.

Other than those little details, though, this is a great book!

Next: Book 4 (Hellblazer Family Man)
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Gopal Rao I actually think this is the most coherent story of the first three compilation volumes. I don't understand why it's so unpopular either. Admittedly, we're seeing a bit of a repeated pattern here. Constantine hooks up with a mysterious woman, who leads him into a conspiracy that appears to be aimed at bringing about the end of the world via some archaic, long-forgotten deity.

What makes this interesting to me is the way Delano takes old folklore and ties it to contemporary politics and modern pseudoscience. It appears that a lot of what he's depicting is pretty well grounded in real-life, albeit fanciful, pursuits.

It's like a good bit of modern anthropology mixed with horror and science fiction.

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