Hellblazer # 199 Review

Reviewer: Mathan “Who’d a thunk I’d still be reading this book” Erhardt
Story Title: Stations of the Cross part three

Written by: Mike Carey
Penciled and Inked by: Marcelo Frusin
Colored by: Lee Loughridge
Lettered by: Clem Robins & Jon Paden
Cover by: Tim Bradstreet
Editor: Will Dennis
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics

An amnesiac John Constantine has been abducted by a religious cult run by an old contemporary/current adversary named Ghant. Ghant holds an auction for the life of John Constantine. The bidders? Demons.

This issue begins with the rules being set for the auction. All Ghant wants is the souls that have infested his flesh to be burned off. Any demon can do that, but the winner will be decided by the one who plans to put Constantine in the most imaginative pain.

The auction goes pretty well, but until the old foe, First of the Fallen, enters the room. Upon his entrance the auction is canceled. The First has a major score to settle with John. But he’s dubious if John is the real thing, due to his lack of any of John’s memories. Ghant assures him Constantine is the real thing.

Fortunately, John’s a quick thinker who gets out of the jam in a very clever way. Then John and Suzie, his ally make their escape. But unfortunately they run into that wild mob of cult members they escaped from last issue. The cult members tie them up and begin to burn them at the stake. Then Rosa, the demon who’s been haunting John for the past few months returns. She once again makes her offer, she’ll return his memories in return for his being in her service for one whole day. He takes her up on the offer which leads us to issue #200.

Carey is my idol. He’s brought back Ghant from months ago and made him a threat with a legitimate beef for the Constantine clan. He’s also returned The First of the Fallen into the fray. He set up a situation for John to accept Rosa’s offer, and he showed what John has inherent smarts about him. I love this issue.

Frusin can draw a scary issue. All of the demons look way creepy. The flashback scene with John and Ghant, due to the coloring, works well. The First of the Fallen strikes a menacing pose. The final five pages are a perfect chemistry of images and coloring. Paden and Robins do a fine job in the lettering of the issue. Each of the demons speech looks differently. And the design of the First of the Fallen’s speech is great. It has a warped look to it, as though the voice would sound distorted. Cool effect.