Comic Vine Review

27 Comments

Hellblazer #300 - Death and Cigarettes, Finale: Ash Review

5

The final issue of John Constantine is here. John is back from the dead and wants to live a "normal" life.

I didn't become a real HELLBLAZER fan until a couple years ago, when, on a whim, I started buying up the trades and then a year later started reading JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK. I didn't start reading the current on-going HELLBLAZER series until 10 issues ago, and no, I haven't read every issue of the series. So while some people reading this may see me reviewing this as B.S. because I am not all knowing about the character, I'm a huge Vertigo fan, and this was one of those books that I was in the middle of reading when it ended. Yes, me defending myself is a awful way to start a review, but I know how passionate we can get about the books we love. I'm not a die hard fan, but I am a fan of this series and Vertigo as a whole.

John Constantine returns after his "death" a couple issues back and his funeral in #299. He decides to have a normal life with his wife, away from the world of magic. He confronts his nephew Finn about his future in magic as well, all while trying to avoid The Fates.

The Good

This is quite the tough issue to get through. The reader is on a emotional roller coaster from start to finish, constantly asking "What does the future hold for John Constantine?" He seems to try and set things right with his wife and his nephew here, but is it worth it or is someone else going to end up in the mental hospital losing their mind because of him, or worse off, dead? There's no doubt that John loves his wife, niece, and nephew, so is leaving this world the best for all of them? It's a back and forth decision he contemplates right up until the end of the issue.

This issue is over 40 pages, but it reads like 15. It's such a smooth issue that flows incredibly well thanks to some solid writing from Peter Milligan. You become emotionally invested, right away, and the world around you fades away as you engulf yourself in this world and book. In a sense, you know what's coming, but you don't know how it's going to happen. Milligan creates the comfort food of the comic books here. This book is like a nice, homemade meatloaf your mom just cooked.

As a conclusion to a book that ran for 25 years, does it end well? To me, it's a very satisfying conclusion. The world isn't completely closed off. There are still elements here to play with. The last page really does wrap up the series in a good and weird way. The look on Constantine's face says it all and describes how many (including myself) feel about it coming to an end: a look of shock and disbelief.

The art team of Giuseppe Camuncoli (layouts), Stefano Landini (finishes), and Brian Buccellato (colors) do a wonderful job on this final issue. This issue tells a great story, artistically. The final pages, as John travels to The Long Journey's End are brilliantly done and have a great sense of pacing as we come to the conclusion of the issue, especially the splash page prior to that moment, which does so much with just so little on the page.

The Bad

I wish I started reading this book a lot earlier than two years ago. Other than that, no problems here.

The Verdict

It's sad to see HELLBLAZER go, and I know a lot of fans aren't too keen on the new series, but it is what it is. This final issue is a good wrap-up to the series, and is a tough read, for all the right reasons. I feel like I'm writing an obituary and not a review right now. HELLBLAZER is a great book, and one you really should start reading from the beginning of the series. Hell, even pick this one up, if you can since, on its own, it's an incredibly gripping issue.

Overall, I highly recommend this issue.

27 Comments
Posted by longbowhunter

One of my goals for the year is to continue catching up on old Vertigo series. Just got the deluxe edition of Books of Magic in today. Plan to start reading some Hellblazer in trade in the very near future.

Posted by dreamfall31

Looking forward to reading all the previous volumes!

Posted by Trevel8182

It was a good run, see you around John!

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

R.I.P

Edited by MatKrenz

A little bit confused by the ending but an obituary is the perfect thing to write for the end of Hellblazer. And these are my sentiments to the New 52 series. It can piss off for all I care.

Posted by judasnixon

I'm sad now........

Posted by Batnandez

I had no idea this was still ongoing.

Posted by MatKrenz

@Batnandez: Well it's not anymore.

Posted by RedHush1

Will someone please explain the ending to me because I was very confused by it?

Posted by RedHush1

… From what I understand I guess it's the last bar you stop at before you die maybe? Because in the background under the drinks you see people's names. So maybe it's where you go after you die? Someone explain tis please!

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

@longbowhunter said:

One of my goals for the year is to continue catching up on old Vertigo series. Just got the deluxe edition of Books of Magic in today. Plan to start reading some Hellblazer in trade in the very near future.

READ Y THE LAST MAN

Posted by Decoy Elite

I think it's nice that you point out how long you've been reading the series because with something that's been going this long how long you've been reading it will effect just how you take the ending. Nice review overall.

Personally I still need to get the trades for the series. >.>

Posted by SavageDragon

All Vertigo stories come to an end and its amazing that Hellblazer hit 300. Its a testament to the fans and creative teams and Vertigo for pushing this great series. Im a huge fan of vertigo also (Y the Last Man, and V for Vendetta to Name a few.) Similar to Mat I haven't been a die hard Constantine fan and have read here and there over the years. None the less this was a great issue. 5 stars for me as well.

Posted by ApatheticAvenger

A fitting end to a long and brilliant journey.

Posted by Autopsad

A very well done ending, it's been seven or eight years since I started reading this series and i enjoyed it all the way. So sad to see him go...

As of now, John Constantine is dead and even his counterpart in the DC mainstream can't replace him...

Posted by Billy Batson

Alas the last and only staff review of Hellblazer.
Loved the last page.
BB

Posted by Onemoreposter

I'll be honest. I haven't followed this book regularly for years now. Now I feel guilty, like my lack of recent readership has contributed to it's demise. In any case, I've always been a fan of this series with probably a rough 100 issues of it or so under my belt. I've been a fan of John ever since I first met him in the pages of Sandman when Dream had to fetch that sand bag from Johnny's ex. Sad to see this series go. However, unlike many of you, at least I'm going to have plenty of back issues to keep me company for the foreseeable future.

Posted by inferiorego

@MadeinBangladesh said:

@longbowhunter said:

One of my goals for the year is to continue catching up on old Vertigo series. Just got the deluxe edition of Books of Magic in today. Plan to start reading some Hellblazer in trade in the very near future.

READ Y THE LAST MAN

Y is my favorite series of all time, and without a doubt, my favorite ending to a series ever.

Books of Magic is amazing. Everyone should buy the deluxe edition.

More Vertigo things everyone should read, aside from Hellblazer and Sandman: Joe The Barbarian, Unwritten, Alcoholic, Unknown Soldier, Haunted Tank, Preacher, The Losers, Punk Rock Jesus, Saucer Country (RIP), um... I feel like I'm forgetting some of my favorite series here....

@Billy Batson said:

Alas the last and only staff review of Hellblazer.
Loved the last page.
BB

I read a lot of Vertigo, but I don't always review it for some reason. I couldn't tell you why.

Online
Posted by Billy Batson

@inferiorego said:

@MadeinBangladesh said:

@longbowhunter said:

One of my goals for the year is to continue catching up on old Vertigo series. Just got the deluxe edition of Books of Magic in today. Plan to start reading some Hellblazer in trade in the very near future.

READ Y THE LAST MAN

Y is my favorite series of all time, and without a doubt, my favorite ending to a series ever.

Books of Magic is amazing. Everyone should buy the deluxe edition.

More Vertigo things everyone should read, aside from Hellblazer and Sandman: Joe The Barbarian, Unwritten, Alcoholic, Unknown Soldier, Haunted Tank, Preacher, The Losers, Punk Rock Jesus, Saucer Country (RIP), um... I feel like I'm forgetting some of my favorite series here....

100 Bullets, Transmetropolitan, Lucifer, Shade, the Changing Man, Scalped, Sandman Mystery Theatre, DMZ, Northlanders, Human Target, Greek Street and plenty of minis and OGNs.

@inferiorego said:

@Billy Batson said:

Alas the last and only staff review of Hellblazer.
Loved the last page.
BB

I read a lot of Vertigo, but I don't always review it for some reason. I couldn't tell you why.

Since you're currently reading The Unwritten, why not review it too? It would raise its awareness and possibly gain more readers. It's something that Hellblazer and others would have needed.
BB

Posted by inferiorego

@Billy Batson said:

@inferiorego said:

@MadeinBangladesh said:

@longbowhunter said:

One of my goals for the year is to continue catching up on old Vertigo series. Just got the deluxe edition of Books of Magic in today. Plan to start reading some Hellblazer in trade in the very near future.

READ Y THE LAST MAN

Y is my favorite series of all time, and without a doubt, my favorite ending to a series ever.

Books of Magic is amazing. Everyone should buy the deluxe edition.

More Vertigo things everyone should read, aside from Hellblazer and Sandman: Joe The Barbarian, Unwritten, Alcoholic, Unknown Soldier, Haunted Tank, Preacher, The Losers, Punk Rock Jesus, Saucer Country (RIP), um... I feel like I'm forgetting some of my favorite series here....

100 Bullets, Transmetropolitan, Lucifer, Shade, the Changing Man, Scalped, Sandman Mystery Theatre, DMZ, Northlanders, Human Target, Greek Street and plenty of minis and OGNs.

@inferiorego said:

@Billy Batson said:

Alas the last and only staff review of Hellblazer.
Loved the last page.
BB

I read a lot of Vertigo, but I don't always review it for some reason. I couldn't tell you why.

Since you're currently reading The Unwritten, why not review it too? It would raise its awareness and possibly gain more readers. It's something that Hellblazer and others would have needed.
BB

I want to, but I'm 15 issues behind. I own them all, but haven't caught up. Maybe this weekend.

Online
Posted by ApatheticAvenger

@inferiorego: I'm in a similar boat with The Unwritten. Own the issues starting with #42, but need to get the trades after vol. 4 to get caught up. :P

Posted by Mezmero

Cool! I've got 300 issues to catch up on!

Online
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

@RedHush1 said:

Will someone please explain the ending to me because I was very confused by it?

The pepole with John in the pub are the (former) Vertigo editorial staff and the current (former) creative team on the book and if you look at the bottles in the background they have the names of all the pepole that have ever worked on Hellblazer.

Posted by Silkcuts

Thank you for this review. I know I didn't have the strength to review it. I still might. Never know. Glad you gave a strong recommendation of the issue and it deserves it. I would of liked to think I helped push you to read the book, since I started reviewing it about two years ago, maybe longer, people can check when I joined.  I am glad Pete wrote the last issue, because I don't think anyone would of written it better. It is the right ending for the book, like you said opened enough so Bad Blood could still be his future, closed enough so the New 52 version has a chance to grow even if guys like me will never love that version as much as this one.  With 25 years of history, pete wrapped up a whole lot. Sure most of Jenkins run will never be touched again, but with the final panel, a homage to issue 120 is the only hat tip to Jenkins we needed.

Posted by Silkcuts
@MatKrenz said:

A little bit confused by the ending but an obituary is the perfect thing to write for the end of Hellblazer. And these are my sentiments to the New 52 series. It can piss off for all I care.


an obituary indeed.
Only thing missing is allowing John to say C[_]/\/T. It is the only 4 letter word I am told by Carey John was never allowed to say.
 
@RedHush1 said:

@MatKrenz … From what I understand I guess it's the last bar you stop at before you die maybe? Because in the background under the drinks you see people's names. So maybe it's where you go after you die? Someone explain tis please!

 #256
I'll do my best to explain the Meta, why because this book is riddled with depth for long time readers.  I will start with the cover, Biz bookends his run.  Biz join's the fun at issue #256. on the cover of 256 we see a shady older Constantine walking the streets of busy London. In his posture you can see life has beat on him. Biz is either one hell of an artist or ConJob planted that idea in his head, either way it is one of my favorite HB covers to date and I now know why. In the cover of the current issue, John's totem of the Cigarette is the focal point, is it a symbol of his life and now its at its end, maybe.  What I love most of the rest of the cover is the street from 256 is now just a side walk, less busy, less manic. We only see part of John's body, because it "death" something is missing.  I also love that John is walking into a clear open horizon. Again Biz is either one great artist or something magickal happened with his cover run.
 Most of the issue is tying up loose ends mostly from from Pete's run. Such Julian's obsession with John, Gemma's love for John, John's bloodline and his family he made with Piffy.  The cleaver writer in Pete explains a few things in what most people would see as tossed out one lines, such as page 30 3rd panel, 2nd bubble: "maybe I'll even learn to drive" Piffy calls him out. It is a explained con for us long time readers. John got driven around by Chas, was that a joke towards Moore since Moore cabs and doesn't drive? Maybe, but a lot of writers ran with that but lesser writers or maybe not as well researched ones of the past got John to drive. Which is cannon? Can or can he not drive. Issue #299, John is driving alone by the way, so it is a seeded John Pete so cleverly hid. So even after the big Con of John tricking the fates, he has one more Meta Con on readers like me... I almost cried I loved that Con so much. If aspects of the issues main plot are confusing then please read or reread Pete's run since he does a lot of detailed meta in the run, but the basic plot of his run I felt is pretty clear.  It is the best run on the book and I am grateful for it. So much reread value.
 
The last panel is the best way to end the book. That is how I would of done it if I wrote 300, or similar. And no way would I have written as well as Pete, so I salute him.  The final panel is really to please us who are "desperately seeking something", which is the name of issue #120 of Hellblazer. Us HB fan were desperately seeking something in a proper end and that is why the salute to Jenkins is the correct end.  It is not just a fun easter egg filled panel, it salutes all the history of Vertigo with the booze bottle's behind. With HB dying classic Vertigo is dead, it lost its true flagship, it is like DC losing Superman or really Batman. Sorry Superman fans. I will include the link to my review of 120: here to give more details on why that issue was the inspiration of that panel. So our monthly pub stories from John comes to an end and that is why the bar works as the true end of the series, extending the issue past 22 pages to accomidate the needed over sized end.
 
Hope my little chime in helped a little.
Cheers mate
 - Silkcuts
Posted by 2cool4fun

R.I.P

Can any one tell me why this comic ended after so long, it even survived not getting canceled or starting at issue 1 when the new 52 started...

Edited by DeathandGrim

Just finished reading it and damn what a story

Constantine is an amazing character and it's sad to see him go... or not

I have no clue if he really died or not