- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 167169 KB
- Print Length: 385 pages
- Publisher: Vertigo (10 Jun. 2014)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00K7EIX58
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- Customer reviews: 25 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #111,060 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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John Constantine, Hellblazer Vol. 8: Rake at the Gates of Hell (Hellblazer (Graphic Novels)) Kindle & comiXology
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|Length: 385 pages|
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That particular tale isn't awful, but it lacks much of the hard-edged cut-n-thrust which this series can do so well. It has a contrived feel about it, and wilfully throws away several intriguing plot possibilities by tying things up in a neat little bow.
The other long story in this collection is set in a surreal version of America. Again, it's not a terrible tale but it undermines the previously magnetic character of Papa Midnite. It's also essentially pointless, doing little to enhance the series' mythology.
...which brings me to the utterly dire, dreadful, dreary, sentimental, slushy and entirely inappropriate interludes with Kit, JC's love interest. Not sure what was going on here - why Ennis wanted to take a sly, cynical, supernatural gumshoe and mire him in the mundane reality of everyday 'good on yer, maun' life in Ireland is entirely baffling. Endless chapters of 'hail fellow well met' and fond reminiscences of great nights down the pub. THis is meant to be entertaining?
Yes, the core attraction of Hellblazer is that it's grounded in reality. But this was way too much reality for me.
So this isn't an ideal place to start to get to know JC. Better to begin with the very first incarnation by Jamie Delano, or the excellent 'Family Man' arc.
This volume really only serves to tie up loose ends. Roll on 'Critical Mass', then next in the series, in which hopefully a new writer brings some vigour back to proceedings.
Garth Ennis has done some pretty seminal and exciting work on "Hellblazer". Hell, the title's most referenced and revered story is, for many, "Dangerous Habits" (I am more partial towards Delano's work from Issues 1 to 12). However, by Issue #62 his work on Hellblazer started to strike me as somewhat exhausted and reashed, if still very enjoyable. Most of the stories contained in this trade follow the same "downwards spyral" that started to become evident since issue #63.
The collection opens with "Damnation's Flame" (that covers Issues #72 to #75) in which Constantine finds himself immersed in a surreal landscape that metaphorically mirrors some of the atrocities and injustices that plague America's history. It wasn't as uninteresting as I feared, as I had heard very poor opinions regarding this particular storyline, but it certainly isn't very arresting. I'd give it a 5.0.
The collection continues with "Confessions of an Irish Rebel", a somewhat uninteresting and perfectly dispensable "characters story" that feels like little more than filler(5.0), followed by "And the Crowd Goes Wild" (6.0), a nice if somewhat lazy one-off ghost story that adds some mystique to Constantine's persona.
After these two one-offs, we are treated with what is the centerpiece of this collection - the highly praised "Rake at the Gates of Hell" (issues #78-83). I had quite anticipated Ennis' closing storyline on the strengh of it's strong reputation, but was considerably let down by it. It was anti-climatic and rushed, despite running for a considerable number of issues. The immaturely blasphemous theological discussions and revelations that formed the bulk of the anti-climatic confrontation between the First of The Fallen and Constantine were somewhat childish and lazy (being an atheist myself I am not at all sensitive towards blasphemous takes on Christianity, but Ennis' considerations regarding the subject were childish and unimpressive). "Rake at the Gates of Hell" was not awfull, just dissapontingly mediocre and scaterred. I can't award it with more than a 6.0 (and I feel that I am being generous here).
Finally the collection closes with "Heartland #1), a one off-story that focuses on Kit's life on Belfast after leaving John. It's not awfull, but it certainly isn't the reason why I read "Hellblazer" and cared little for it. (5.0).
I am glad to be over and done with Ellis'" Hellblazer" because, while his work on the series started off strong, it gradually became somewhat repetitive and riddled with missed oportunities (most notably regarding how The King Of Vampires and The First of The Fallen were disposed of). Something that also dissapointed on Ennis' run was the fact that it was mostly accompanied by mediocre artwork by William Simpson and Steve Dillon. Aside from odd issue, the art was mostly done by Simpson and Dillon. And while William Simpsons art is somewhat unspectacular I still find it to be far better than Steve Dillon's, the latter striking me as old-fashioned (I particularly dislike the way he draws the character's faces).
So overall it was by far the least interesting trade I have read of "Hellblazer" and while it was quite a few noches below the title's usual high standard, I still recommend buying it as it still his a good read and essencial for anyone who, like me, aims to collect all the issues of the title. So read it, it's good enougth to merit your time, but do not expect it to be on par with the title's best collections.
Top international reviews
We see how destructive John's presence is in the life of everyone he meets, but even in the midst of that, we see the light in him through others.
Not as strong as the previous volumes but the endgame is engrossing. The artwork as always is great.
"A Rake at the Gates of Hell" is a the final major arc that Mr. Ennis wrote on Constantine. He and Dillon were clicking at this point. The story is about the showdown between our anti-hero and the first of the fallen. Plot twists, death, betrayal, keen societal observations, great dialogue, and fantastic art are all standard fare here.
And after the arc is over, we get a great story about Belfast. Very real, very even handed. I was riveted.
The main problem with this collection is that it had to many scenes in bars with John just chatting with his old friends. Now we've seen issues like this before, but there just seemed to be to many of them. I also have to say that for all the build-up, the final confrontation with the First of the Fallen was a bit lackluster.
I would like to take a minute to sing the praises of Ennis's final story, 'Heartland'. Getting away from the horror roots of this comic, Ennis reflects on life and love in the city of Belfast, and it's just such a great, heartwrenching and warming story than everyone should read.