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