29 August 2011 So, it's come to this: nerd rage has finally given way to despair.

When Milligan, Cammo, Biz, et al. took over the series, I was game. I twitched at the continuity slips (the Norfulthing avenged Astra, it didn't terrorize her; John hates menthols, as established in NYC; his tattoo is on the right ass cheek, not the left) but mostly I just mocked myself for knowing this stuff in the first place and rolled with it. Then I hit issue 273, where John goes from shirtless and barefoot, to fully clothed, to shirtless and barefoot again as he opens the way between now and 1979. Okay, fine, the artists and editor dropped the ball or something, shit happens, that could slide...except, right after, Epiphany finds the succubus heart, then John tells Kit it was a succubus head, aaaannnd it's back to being a heart at the wedding. Which leads me to ask: Is no one at Vertigo even reading HELLBLAZER any more? The hell of it is that I could ignore all of this if John Constantine were still being written in character. Since the introduction of Mary Sue Greaves, he's stopped being a canny, cunning trickster. He can't manage the simplest situations on his own. Instead, every time John has been in a corner since issue 251, it's always Epiphany with the potion, Epiphany with the gun, Epiphany with the car, Epiphany with the answer. All the supporting characters love Epiphany. She's cooler than John and smarter than John, so perfectly perfect and perfectly damaged in all the perfect ways. Guys, come on. I have loved all of the women in John's life, from Swamp Thing's Abby and their collective daughter, Tefé, to Zed, Marj, and Mercury, to Kit and Dani, Cheryl and Gemma, to Ellie and Rosa and his half-demon daughter, Maria. These characters worked because they complemented him in their own ways without replacing him as the center of the HELLBLAZER universe. Now he's just a stammering, grey-haired, out-of-touch old man who can't cast an effective binding spell or close a magic circle or even talk a goddamned potential landlord into cheaper rent. He's a punchline now, shambling around in his own universe solely to showcase how amazing Epiphany is. This is why the lost continuity is a problem: I'd have some sort of faith in a brilliant payoff to this Epiphany stuff if it weren't for the awful job being done keeping up with the kinds of details I mentioned above. Fine if we never see John in his pinstriped suits and expensive shirts again (he understandably ditched the white gloves, fashion being a fickle fucker and all), but can't we see him return to the man who once laughed in the First of the Fallen's face? Who only flinched at the sight of a dead baby stuffed with drugs and stitched up the back? Who was competent and clever and one hell of a conman? Please -- please -- give HELLBLAZER back to John Constantine.

Kimberley Rector

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