aztek_the_lost's Hellblazer #22 - The Fear Machine, Part IX: Balance review

So Concludes An Arduous Journey

I fear this arc may have been a mite too long. Now, I admit that some of my problems with this comic could just be that it’s from such a long past era that it’s difficult to compare to the comics of today but then I remember great comics like The Sandman, Animal Man and Morrison’s Doom Patrol that were being published at this time and I’m just left thinking the Hellblazer of the time just wasn’t of that caliber.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Jamie Delano, I respect him for being the first Hellblazer writer and he definitely wrote some goodies, but it’s not my favorite of his works and I often felt it was too wordy without being all that informative. Take for example this issue, it concludes an arc that during my first read I found tasking to trudge through.

It reintroduces Zed (a former lover) and tries to bring to an end the enemy that is the Fear Machine and the Terror Thing. But nine issues…that’s just a bit too much for me…you could argue that getting more words per issue means you’re paying less per word but as one of my childhood heroes would say, “It’s quality not quantity, wot.”

The main problem I have here is that so much of the issue is talking about magic, rituals, ley-lines, etc. and yet I don’t feel any more enlightened then I was before I read it. Some things are never explained and you just have to tag along for the ride and turn off the “wtf“ meter. One major flaw I would find in some of Delano’s stories is that the events seemed so grand but when it came down to it…it was such a minor piece of the story and never acknowledged again.

Like I said, I may just come from a different era, but this is not Delano at his best in my opinion. If I were to name my favorite Delano I would name stuff more along the lines of the Original Sins trade, Family Man as well, his magnificent run on Animal Man that too often gets overshadowed by Morrison, or even his recent commemoration of the 25 anniversary of John Constantine, the Pandemonium graphic novel. Fear Machine just wasn’t my cup of tea, a good story but not great.

P.S. I have nothing against hippies but I admit I sort of grew tired of them in the Hellblazer world.

3 Comments
Posted by Silkcuts

Great review!  I like that your a younger taken then mine.  So your bias are different.  I maybe a minority in this, but I loved the Fear Machine arc.  Lay lines were big in the 80s in the occult scene, I am no expert on the Occult but a few guys I know dabble and they explained a few things.
 
I agree that Delano almost expects the reader to have a certain level of understanding of Magick and the occult, when reading his arc.  This difference between magick understanding and just what goes bump in the night are the night and day differences between Ennis and Delano.  Ennis being the more popular writer because the concepts are easy to understand.  
 
Don't know if you read my fear machine review ( Here)

Cheers
 - Silkcuts

Posted by aztek_the_lost
@Silkcuts: hmm, that is interesting, I guess we see the same thing from this arc but you get out of it an awesome story and I get out of it a confusing one...I wish I could love this arc but the ley lines stuff doesn't really fascinate me, I don't know why but for some reason it just doesn't grab me...think my favorite part of the arc may have been the guy killing himself for the splash page
Moderator
Posted by Silkcuts
@aztek the lost:  It is all good that you don't like Ley Lines.  It is just how it is. Any Thing about any topic will be hit or miss if is rooted in something solid.  Like how some people think Tarot cards are stupid or Ouija boards work.  Magick is the ability to change someone's perception.  Delano failed you in this one and very likely others too.  Since my brain works the way it does, I happened to enjoy this issue.
 
The splash page you speak of reminds me of why a friend and mine we differ so much in comics.  He is a huge Ennis fan and I think Ennis is great but a one trick pony nowadays. He can't get into Alan Moore, Grant Morrison or Peter Milligan... but Ennis, Ellis and Millar are money in the bank for him.  Not every writer will speak clearly to everyone, comics like this could be why Delano never got to the same level of fame as the other Vertigo alumni.

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