HELLBLAZER #63, DC Comics/Vertigo, March 1993
Time for another of my gay-sounding letters to the editor! I'm not gonna talk about the comic it was in, but rather the comic it commented on. Hellblazer is one of DC's premiere horror comics. You might know it as Constantine, the movie with Keanu Reeves in it that was made before DC got with the program and started caring about their properties (the pre-Batman Begins era, shall we say). All you really need to know anyway is that John Constantine is a right bastard that dabbles in the occult and regularly gives the Devil the finger.
This issue was from the Garth Ennis years, and I'll admit right now that I wasn't that keen on his stuff. Later, I'd come to love his splat-shock-no-taboos kind of horror in Preacher, Hitman, et al. But with Hellblazer, I just thought he was screwing with characters that were not his to screw with. The book used to be subtle and now it was about blowing a guy's nuts off in the light of day and similar shenanigans.
But now that I "get" Ennis, I'll reread the issue I sent a complaint about and see what I think. Give me a minute... I'll let you read the letter while you wait. It pretty much summarizes the main points (also included: the counter-argument from another reader). Click on the image to make it legible.
Wow. Am I lame or what? Mr. Green rightly puts me in my place. Of course, I haven't changed my mind. I'm still anally anti-drug. But calling it "the real horror"? Cripes, I can lay it on a thicker than Brad Pitt's accent in Snatch sometimes. (See? Did it again. Hyperbole, thy name is Siskoid.)
Like it says on there, it's Constantine's 40th birthday, and a bunch of his pals throw him a drunken binge (the word "party" just doesn't cover it). Nothing better to get him out of his current funk, right? That's his little arc, but along the way, Ennis has some fun bringing in a number of guest-stars from across the more mystical side of the DC Universe. If I had any objections, it's because he wasn't paying any respect to these comic book icons. The Phantom Stranger shows up, and John pisses on his shoes by mistake. Swamp Thing is invited (or rather, summoned out of broccoli), but it's for this:
And then there's Zatanna of the Justice League of America positively shit-faced. Usually she "backwards-speaks" to cast spells (read each word in reverse to see what she's doing!), but here, I just think she's thoroughly stoned. Still managed "dloh gib taf tnioj rof em" though.
Hey, it's all fun and games now, and yes, I do "get" Garth Ennis. Never liked Zatanna that much anyway (until 7 Soldiers), strictly a B-grade Justice Leaguer, so what was I moaning about? Ok, not Ennis' best work, but it's got a couple of fun drinking tales and a few good laughs at the expense of a couple of all too serious characters. It gets my belated thumbs up. Oh, Mr. Green, can you ever forgive me?