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Reviews Comments: Just be quiet for a minute, would you?

Just be quiet for a minute, would you?
"And the noise — the shrieking, screaming, clattering cacophany of a breaking world goes on forever, beyond the double-glazing of my mind slapped numb evolving slowly into a blackly pregnant beast of stillness, which, one by one, gives low-moaning birth to the ticklings and groanings of tortured steel."
—John Constantine

The above quote demonstrates Hellblazer's single biggest problem. The comic does not know when to shut up. That quote comes from a scene in which the narrator, Constantine, is nearly killed in a train collision. You'd think that such a tremendous crash might interrupt the gratuitous mixed metaphors, run on sentences and hardboiled monologuing for a moment. But no, Constantine doesn't miss a beat.

Hellblazer is a supernatural horror series about a magician who fights demons in a noir-ish version of 1980s England. "Noir-ish" is the key word here, as the comic indulges the hardboiled tropes with glee. The protagonist is a solitary, down on his luck, smart talking anti-hero who smokes too much, and can only communicate via extravagant similies. That last characteristic stands out the most. The comic goes on and on with its dystopian, psychedelic, convoluted rhetoric and it isn't long before my patience wanes. There is barely a single panel that doesn't have narration or dialogue. The comic fails to understand that in a largely visual medium, mood and atmosphere are best conveyed through visuals, not writing. In hardboiled novels, it is necessary to have the narrator blather on so as to set the scene. But in a comic it is largely redundant.

That's sad, because the premise of a demon fighting magician works pretty well. Each arc usually begins with somebody dying in a horrific, ironic death, usually at the hands of equally horrific and ironic devils. There is a lot of imagination and style going into these mysteries, and it is a delight to see such a broad range of mythical elements referenced in each and every issue. The story, characters and magic are both clever and compelling.

Despite my complaining, there is enough to Hellblazer to warrant a recommendation, but expect the comic to be a bit of a slog. It would be an excellent comic, if only it could get over itself.

Comments

I have to ask; which writer wrote the comics you read? See, some use little to no narration, others use a whole lot.
comment #15129 MichaelKatsuro 1st Jul 12
This guy obviously hasn't read the whole series. And you described is as "Noir-ish", or hardboiled, even though the Hellblazer series has always been a horror comic than a thriller. Go read the Hard Times paperback, that arc contains little to no narration for you to worry about. I give this review a 4/10.
comment #21667 Godzilladude123 22nd Oct 13
@Michael Katsuro: and some use too much. It's like how Blade Runner was much improved without the redundant narration - that isn't to say no movie should have narration, but there is a reasonable limit in some circumstances. If a narrator is simply describing what I can plainly see, without colouring the situation with an interesting insight or hidden detail, they are wasting their breath.

@Gozilladude: I wouldn't call Hellblazer a horror comic. It straddles multiple genres (horror included), but its heart seems to be in plodding introspection and mystery. I admit I haven't read the whole series. I will have to skip some out to get to Hard Times, seeing as how it's 143 issues in.
comment #21691 maninahat 23rd Oct 13
@maninahat Lol dude Hellblazer IS a horror comic. It says so in Wikipedia and Comic Vine. This is what happens when idiots who don't know comics make themselves look experts. BAD REVIEW
comment #26299 Godzilladude123 23rd Sep 14
I never said I was an expert. I'll be sure to read more wikipedia though, next time I decide to have an opinion.
comment #26339 maninahat 24th Sep 14
@Godzilladude Hellblazer IS first and foremost a horror comic.....that's also heavily inspired by Noir. That's why the narration is like an old noir story, and why Constantine himself looks like he was ripped out of one. Don't be a dick because someone doesn't like it.
comment #26343 LitleWiggle 24th Sep 14
@Litle Wiggle Sorry if I was being a jerk, and i have my respect for the guy's opinion. But the point remains the same that the guy DOESN'T know anything of what he was reviewing. Sure he did point out some things, but it was obvious he didn't really dwell well into what the comic is. The guy didn't even know it was a horror comic... like reviewing Care Bears but calling it an "animal documentary". Point remains the same that it was a very bad review.
comment #26367 Godzilladude123 26th Sep 14
If he thought it was the wrong genre, that still doesn't give you a reason to be an ass towards him.
comment #26369 LitleWiggle 27th Sep 14
Let it be a lesson for him then. If I was ever an ass, well sorry. Criticism does involves negativity and and being a jerk. Maybe next time he should do more research than pissing in the dark.
comment #26390 Godzilladude123 28th Sep 14
In the original review I say "Hellblazer is a supernatural horror series about a magician who fights demons in a noir-ish version of 1980s England." The fact that I think the noir elements are more prominent than the horror elements doesn't mean I missed the fact that this is a horror series as well, otherwise I wouldn't have wrote that sentence.
comment #26393 maninahat 28th Sep 14
What do you mean the "noir" is more prominent than "horror". Dude there's only two... I repeat... three... non-supernatural horror story arc in the series (Family Man, Freezes Over, Good Intentions). 95% of the comic is HORROR, so why would you say than the "noir" elements are more prominent. I'll tell you man, EVERY ISSUE I'vE read of Hellblazer (except for Gaiman's) is horror. And not all issues of it were noir even (i.e. #27, Hard Times, One Last Love Song). And that's because NOT ALL of Hellblazer stories are mysteries, the majority of it are actually gothic crime/ caper because John Constantine DOES MORE lying than actually investigating. So yeah, you're wrong. Horror IS the most prominent because EVERY issue of it is in the genre,

But I think I got you now "Mr. Reviewer". You must be confused that a story needs to be scary in order to be called "horror", which is not always the case. And dude please, "1980s England"? The first issue came out at the end of the 80s so why the hell would you say its in "1980s".
comment #26425 Godzilladude123 30th Sep 14
@maninahat And also, if you don't like self-narration, there are a lot of story arcs without it. Like Azarello's and Carey's Reason to be Cheerful.

Not all issues has John Constantine talking in a noir first person you know.
comment #26450 Godzilladude123 2nd Oct 14
I don't think you know what Noir means, Godzilladude123. Noir is a genre characterized (usually) by cynic investigating protagonists, a heavy, somewhat nihilistic atmosphere, often over-descriptive first-person narrations, a World of Snark, mystery in every corner and pessimism by the droves.

You will notice I just described Hellblazer. The fact it is a horror comic changes, precisely, jack shit about that. the genre of Urban Fantasy, of which Hellblazer is a big example, is heavily influenced by Noir's trademark gritty, cynic style. Hell, John Constantine himself is a physical embodiment of Noir protagonists, down to appearance (trenchcoat, messy suit, frequently smokes). Horror and Noir are not mutually exclusive, and Hellblazer embodies both, but it's full to the brim with Noir influences.

Claiming Hellblazer isn't Noir, but Horror is like claiming House isn't a drama, but a medical procedural.

The other problem here is that you really should stop being needlessly aggressive towards reviewer, who has done nothing but calmly state his opinion. Why call him "Mr.Reviewer"? You're just being needlessly passive-aggressive. Man has stated his opinion, it's a fair one, let him stick with it.
comment #27090 Gaon 27th Nov 14
I don't have any problem with Hellblazer being called Noir or Horror. It's just that maninahat review was horrible, and it just show how much he doesn't even know what he was reviewing at. He said it was noir, which it really is. But the guy disagreed with me on it being a horror comic, which is the genre the series has been built for. It's not always Noir, but its always has been marketed as a Horror comic by DC comics. I've never read a single issue of Hellblazer being without Horror (not counting the spin-off of course).

So far, this review is the worst review I've seen in the comic. He called it a "bit of a slog", without even saying anything about how the different writers wrote the story, the themes they employ, nor the style they use. It really show how little amount he put in the series, of how much little research he put in to make it even a little bit professional. There's no hate it, I'm just reviewing his review. And he can't even defend it which is sad.
comment #27105 Godzilladude123 1st Dec 14
Frankly, I've seen nothing to justify your accusations of reviewing incompetence towards him. His opinion is that it is, at its core, more Noir than Horror (he never said it wasn't horror, he said it is more Noir than horror), which is a valid interpretation of the series as far as I'm concerned.

I'm a fan of Hellblazer (and recently of Constantine, which I recommend to anyone who may be viewing this conversation to support, as it's walking a dangerous path to cancellation), and I disagree vehemently with what he said, but I think his opinion (i.e it's too full of Purple Prose) is a valid one to have. You can't expect the reviewer to have read every single Hellblazer arc to give a full review on the different writing styles. Sure, it would be good if he did, but what he wrote is a solid review in my books.

Even because of the Draconian word limit this site has.
comment #27109 Gaon 1st Dec 14
Addressing the original review here; at the risk of sounding like a repetition of the... discussion... above, it's pretty obvious you hadn't gotten far into the comic when you wrote this review. Of course, the onus is on the work to interest you as quickly as possible, not on you to slog through the parts you don't like until it "gets good" (boy howdy do white knights for mediocre videogames just love that argument, but I digress.) If the first chunk of the comic didn't pull you in and you don't feel like skipping around or waiting it out, that's perfectly fine, but I do think it's disingenuous to imply in a review that this is some sort of hardcoded problem. First, the reader's experience in this regard is going to be heavily influenced by personal taste, no matter how much anyone debates whether the amount of words is objectively good or not (honestly, I found the story arc you used for the quote more than a little wordy myself; thinking about it probably delays me a few weeks every time I think I'd like to start another readthrough. One look at the letters column from those issues has quite the opposite opinion from back in the day.) Second, and perhaps more importantly, this is a comic that spanned 25 years and 300 issues, not counting specials and such. You can't know exactly how the writing style is going to change between both authors and changing times without reading the whole damn thing, but it's very shortsighted to just assume the entire thing has this single narrative problem through throughout. Maybe you meant not to do this by tagging the review as for a "season," but the review itself very much suggests that the entire comic from start to finish maintains the same style of narrative that turned you off the beginning.
comment #27112 Alhazred 1st Dec 14
That's the big problem. I've read a few Hellblazer stories that isn't noir, but never a story which isn't a horror. That statement would show that the reviewer currently hasn't read a Hellblazer story that isn't noir. But I can assure you that I've never read a Hellblazer story without an ounce of horror.

Because, as I said before, a story doesn't need to be scary in order to be in the horror genre. Every Hellblazer story has always been rooted on the horror genre (except for a few spin-offs). I've already named the story arcs which weren't noir.
comment #27300 Godzilladude123 14th Dec 14

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