Saturday, 15 January 2011

John Constantine, Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits

Written by Garth Ennis, illustrated by William Simpson, Mark Pennington, Tom Sutton, Malcolm Jones III
Year of Publication: 1996, first published monthly as John Constantine, Hellblazer issues 41-46 in 1991
Number of Pages: 160 pages
Genre: Graphic novel, horror, supernatural

Summary: Working-class sorcerer John Constantine is dying. However it is not due to mystical forces, demons or other supernatural enemies, instead it's because of Constantine's habit of smoking thirty cigarettes a day, which has given him terminal lung cancer. Constantine is determined not to die, especially since he has tricked the Devil himself once too often, and who now can't wait to get hold of Constantine and exact revenge for the rest of eternity. Rapidly running out of time and options, Constantine has to play the most dangerous game there is with the highest stakes there are.

Opinions: This book is a powerful and often moving piece. Outside of the supernatural horror elements, it deals with the cynical and guilt-ridden John Constantine coming to terms with his life and death. The writing is intelligent and often darkly humorous, and complemented by impressive artwork. The book's main skill is that it manages to imbue a storyline which could seem cliched or like a bad TV movie with genuine heart and compassion. One of the things that is so good about the Hellblazer series is it's realism which makes the supernatural elements all the more effective. In all of the darkness and horror, the book celebrates life, and the simple joys of friendship and life itself. However it is still Hellblazer and as such features plenty of gruesome monsters and gore.
The Dangerous Habits storyline was one of the main sources for 2005 film Constantine, the movie adaptation of Hellblazer.

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