On Reading Graphic Novels discussion

105 views
Azzarello's run on Hellblazer

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Nathan (last edited Jun 15, 2009 10:19AM) (new)

Nathan (jackthorn) | 24 comments After some comments in another thread on Azzarello's "Hellblazer" run, I wanted to put forward some thoughts and questions to you all. I've noticed that Azzarello's take on the series (issues #146 to #174) has a sort of polarizing effect on readers -- some people recommend it as the best of the title, while just about everyone else seems to have seen it as the least "Hellblazer"-ish run of the title to date. (Though I think we can probably all agree that it was a hell of a lot better than the "Constantine" movie...)

I personally didn't like Azzarello's run much at all -- for details, read my reviews of Hard Time, Freezes Over, Good Intentions, and Highwater. Some were better than others, and they were fine stories overall... but they just didn't seem like "Hellblazer" stories to me.

Mainly I just thought a discussion on all this would be interesting, but also I had some questions.

First, how many people are in the middle about Azzarello's run -- how many of you didn't feel it was especially better or worse than the rest of "Hellblazer"?

For those of you who liked Azzarello's run:
* What is it you liked so much about it?
* What elements did it have that other runs on Hellblazer didn't have?
* Would you say Azzarello's run is the best place to start on Hellblazer, and if so, for what reasons?
* Do you feel that Azzarello's Constantine was in keeping with his character in the rest of the title? If so, how so?
* How do you feel about the sudden and rather conveniently explained shift in setting to the American south for so long?
* What are the main differences you can see between Azzarello's run and the rest of the title?
* What was your introduction to the Hellblazer title -- which issue or trade was the first one you read?
* How much of Hellblazer had you read before reading Azzarello's run?

For those who disliked Azzarello's run:
* Did you feel it was at least a decent story, just not a good take on Hellblazer? Or did you feel it was just badly done overall?
* Was the shift in setting a problem for you?
* What were the main problems you had with Azzarello's run?
* What did you think about John's character in this run?
* What were the good points, if any, to this run?
* What was your introduction to the Hellblazer title -- which issue or trade was the first one you read?
* How much of Hellblazer had you read before reading Azzarello's run?

Feel free to ignore the questions and just converse, of course. They're just questions I find myself curious about, and would ask in a face to face conversation. =)



message 2: by Jared (new)

Jared (jayrkay) | 3 comments I seem to remember only reading Hard Time so far--as for how much like the other comics they were, obviously there are differences in atmosphere, but I think that's to be expected from any long-running comic that's written by many different people over a course of time. I think Azzarello got the core of the character right, and that's really all that matters at the end of the day. IMHO, of course.


message 3: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn (kathry) I'm reading through the trades in order and I'm in the middle of the Ennis run so I'll get back too you when I'm futher along. Would love to discuss it...


message 4: by Nathan (new)

Nathan (jackthorn) | 24 comments Okay -- but why?

What is it you liked so much about it? What elements did it have that other runs on Hellblazer didn't have? Do you feel that Azzarello's Constantine was in keeping with his character in the rest of the title? If so, how so? What are the main differences you can see between Azzarello's run and the rest of the title? What was your introduction to the Hellblazer title -- which issue or trade was the first one you read? How much of Hellblazer had you read before reading Azzarello's run?


message 5: by Dean (new)

Dean | 11 comments It was during the Azzarello run that I lost all interest in reading Hellblazer. The writing was a little too much like a Palahniuk book in that there was a too much style and too little substance. The great thing about the Delano and Ennis runs is that even when Constantine was doing something horrible it still seemed like he had a chance for redemption. The Azzarello Constantine seemed completely unrepentant and I really just didn't care for him.

I actually started reading from the very first issue and before that I'd been a fan of Moore's Swamp Thing. The Constantine that Delano wrote about always seemed a lot deeper than Moore's. He was more of a con man than anything else but he was also carrying around this horrible curse that kept him from getting too close to anyone. The Ennis run was my favorite. He did bring a bit more of the coolness out in the character but also brought out a lot more vulnerability that made him seem more human. He was as much a victim as he was a victimizer and he was just trying to get by in a world where everything was against him.

Just my $.02. Since that's where I stopped reading him what do you guys think of the writers that have followed?


message 6: by Nathan (new)

Nathan (jackthorn) | 24 comments Dean wrote: "It was during the Azzarello run that I lost all interest in reading Hellblazer..."

You say you read up through Azzarello, Dean -- what did you think of Paul Jenkins' stuff? Warped Notions, Critical Mass, and so on, right before Ennis' short return and then Ellis and Azzarello. For that matter, what did you think of Ellis' work?

As for the stuff that came after Azzarello's run, I've only read Mike Carey's work after that -- I like his work so well that I felt I had to give it a shot, and I was glad I did. I think Carey really took Constantine back to some of his roots in the Delano / Ennis days, combining the human element and depth with intelligent plotwork... been a while since I read Carey's run, though. I should pick it up again, maybe try Denise Mina's work too, maybe Andy Diggle. I'm actually really looking forward to seeing what Peter Milligan has done with the series, since I LOVED his "Shade The Changing Man" series (which of course had a crossover with Hellblazer in there somewhere, and was interestingly done).




message 7: by Dean (last edited Nov 01, 2009 07:29PM) (new)

Dean | 11 comments To be perfectly honest I don't remember much of Ellis' run. I don't think it was a very long one. I was a fan of his other stuff and I don't recall being turned off by the title at the time so I guess it was a decent run. I just remember that after Azzarello took over it was no longer the first one I read when I got home. After a while it wasn't even one I read in the first few days and soon after I just gave up on it. The character he was writing about just wasn't Constantine IMO. It may have been a perfectly good story with an original character.
I would be interested in seeing what Milligan can do with the character even though I fear he'd play his usual insanity card. I did enjoy his run on Human Target.


message 8: by Justin (new)

Justin | 5 comments I have to admit that Azzarello's run on Constantine paints a rather bleak portrait of the man, but it's Constantine...what did you expect?

With that written, I was constantly curious how Azzarello's seemingly isolated narratives would contribute to our long-term assessment of this character. And I have to be honest, I think you should really read Azzarello's from start to bloody finish to see how Azzarello really does create an ongoing narrative that has a "start" and an "end". By the time I finished Azzarello's run, I found myself hating Constantine ever the more, but I think that goes hand-in-hand with the characer. I don't think we're supposed to genuinely love this anti-hero, and his coup-de-grace at the end of Azzarello's run really illustrates a rather negative picture of Constantine.

And that made me love him even more.

Constantine is a very complex character and the best writers have grappled with our desire to find something to love about him, whilst the writer posits Constantine in a situation that will ultimately demonstrate how truly degenerate he really is.

Constantine will always be one of my favorite characters, mostly because I love that I hate him, and I hate that I love him.

Looking forward, I'm hopeful that Milligan will do some good work with the character (and I'm reading the series in trade, so by the time I read it, it may have already been cancelled). I loved "Shade, the Changing Man," until about the last 10 issues, when Milligan introduced his deus ex machina. Plus, it seemed liked the editorial board axed the title and asked Milligan to "wrap it up" as quickly as possible. I think Milligan would have continued taking the character into some rather interesting places, but he had to finish his story before it was concluded, a la "cancellation".

With all that written, Milligan also hasn't produced a really (commercially) successful title, and that means that his writing is predicated on the editorial board, either asking him to generate mini-series or to, as noted before, "wrap it up".

I simply hope that Milligan's run doesn't spell the end of HELLBLAZER, which is VERY probable.

The monthly book seems to read better in installments, in trade, and I think that his future is destined for limited series and graphic novels...abbreviated stories that contribute to Constantine's mythology.

It'll be sad to see the title cancelled, if that's what happens, since it's Vertigo's longest-running flagship title.

But perhaps that's what needs to be done.

Perhaps we should be visited by Constantine in installments, every other season or so, rather than on a monthly basis, where writers grapple for a sense of purpose for the character.

Personally, I didn't like the Carey run. The inclusion of the tatoos and even the scar on his cheek have forevermore changed the character without really changing his PURPOSE or the bent of the series as a whole. It's all window dressing to me.

I understand that a character has to evolve, but I don't think physical evolutions necessarily connote evolution.

Plus: I don't think Constantine will every truly evolve.

He is what he is. And we love him for that.



back to top