Hellblazer, Vol. 3: The Fear Machine by Jamie Delano
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I confess that I started reading this series out of order. I can't say if that affected my rating. I will say I was disappointed with this first read of Constantine in the graphic novel format. I have read a novel with him Hellblazer: War Lord, and I liked that more.
In all honestly, I am completely square when it comes to free love sex, drugs, and alternative religions. None of that are things I would choose for my life. Yes, that's an obstacle with this book, because they play a big part in this story. However, I believe all humans are equally worthwhile, and I care about the connection you form with a character, even if I don't necessarily agree with their choices.
John Constantine is on the run, implicated in a series of brutal murder with occult elements (when he actually saved the world in that situation and didn't kill those people). He runs into a group of earth-religion practitioners and bonds with a strange young girl with precognitive abilties named Mercury. Her mother Marj, is the poster child for an aging flower child/hippie chick. Her friends are all good-hearted, kind people who have a penchant for psychedelic drugs, earth spirituality, and living off the land. They generously take in Constantine, and he bonds with them. Constantine has led a rough, cynical life, but I get the impression that he is a kind person at heart, and goes out of his way not to harm others. When Mercury is kidnapped, he vows to get her back, even though it takes him back into the eye of the dark, occult storm he is trying to escape.
My biggest issue with this story was the graphic violence and the horrible murders that took place. I admit I am sensitive to that kind of thing. Ritual murders and stuff, and pretty much any kind of heinous murder or violence like that disturb me. This was all done by the bad guys, of course. So it's perfectly warranted to dislike them. ( I wish they had gotten more comeuppance in the end.) The Fear Machine concept was interesting, but stomach-turning. I think fundamentally, I hate when people's fears and weaknesses are manipulated, and I certainly hate innocent people getting harmed for whatever reason. Also, some aspects were confusing and didn't translate in the visual medium well. I had some question marks, even when I finished this book.
Constantine himself, is a likable character, what I'd consider an amiable rogue (and I do have a weakness for them and antiheroes). I think ultimately he does save the day, but I wish he had done so a little sooner, and the methods he used were kind of questionable and didn't make a lot of sense to me. I love the graphic novel format, but I feel that prose would have worked better for this storyline, and I might have liked this more.
Will I keep reading this series? Yeah. I really like occult detective stories. And while I didn't like some aspects of this particular volume, I am hoping that I will find other storylines that appeal to me more than this one did. Your mileage may vary.
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