Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Confessions of an Irish Rebel" (Hellblazer #76)

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Today is the day that we celebrate all things Irish, but mostly their stereotypical tendency toward excessive drink.
As if I didn't have enough to read, to fill the interegnum between the end of Hellblazer and the debut of the New 52 Constantine series, I have been rereading my old issues of Hellblazer, of which I have somewhere around 50, mostly from the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon era.  It would be a shame, don't you  think, to be reading all those comics and not get at least one post out of it.  Therefore, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, I'm going to tell you all about Hellblazer #76, a story entitled, in keeping with Garth Ennis' habit of swiping titles from other writers--though always with an in-story acknowledgement, "Confessions of an Irish Rebel," after the book by Brendan Behan, upon whom Wikipedia claims the character of Brendan Finn was based.  What better way to commemorate the day than by reading a story by an Irish writer set in a pub in Dublin?
As the story begins, John Constantine is returning home from his disastrous trip to New York City chronicles in the "Damnation's Flame" story line which wrapped up in the previous issue.  However, mechanical problems force his plane to make an unscheduled stop in Dublin, Ireland.  John, being John, decides to while away his enforced layover down at a local pub.  He is soon joined by the ghost of his old friend Brendan Finn.  Brendan passed on back in issue #42, the second chapter of Ennis' debut story line, "Dangerous Habits." The pair proceed to spend the remainder of the evening hitting the pubs, catching up on each others lives, or after-lives, as the case may be, and reminiscing about old times. Of course, in this case the old times happen to include some poor sod getting his genitalia blasted off with a shotgun.  This is, after all, Garth Ennis' Hellblazer.
As a writer, Garth Ennis has a well deserved reputation for over the top dark humor and graphic violence.  Those trademarks are certainly evident throughout his run on Hellblazer, and even to a small extent, as I noted above, in this very issue.  However, what often gets overlooked, even, it sometimes seems, by him, is his talent for writing the quieter, character driven moments.  He displays that ability to its full effect in "Confessions of an Irish Rebel," turning a simple reunion of two old friends into one of the finest issues of his entire run on the series.
The following issue followed a similar structure, as Constantine drops into a London pub to patch things up with his best friend Chas after the two had a violent falling out in the wake of John's break-up with Kit.  Together, these two issues gave the characters, and the reader,  a breather before all hell, pretty much literally, breaks lose in "Rake at the Gates of Hell," Ennis' final story line, in which John finally settles his account with the First of the Fallen.  Both of these issues are collected in the Damnation's Flame trade paperback, along with the story of that name.

1 comment:

  1. We should discuss some science fiction, Spaz. Maybe over some poker. I don't read many comics, but I have an impressive collection of graphic novels, and no one knows Orwell, Bradbury, or Heinlein like I do.