“HELLBLAZER” #275 (Comic Review)

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Originally published at Fangoria.com  on January 16, 2011

In Vertigo Comics’ extra-length issue HELLBLAZER #275 (out this week), John Constantine questions whether he should be walking up the aisle. The supernatural detective has cold feet on the day of his wedding in this story, titled “Bloody Carnations,” and members of both heaven and hell have their own plans to make sure the union never happens.

Constantine has always been seen as a drifter, moving from place to place whenever he pleases. Never looking back, Constantine coldheartedly chooses to abandon people, whether they be friends or family. But no matter how perverse his life has gotten, Epiphany Greaves has consistently chosen to stand by his side. Because the blue-haired girl has no intentions of leaving him, Constantine proposes to his on-again, off-again lover.

The trench-coated mystic, who has gone up against the Prince of Darkness three times now, wonders if marriage will eventually change him. Constantine asks his closest friends, a cab driver and a ghost, for much-needed advice. After listening to both sides of the argument, Constantine drinks heavily the rest of the night, hoping the morning will provide a solution to his dilemma.

Meanwhile, diabolical forces are gathering against Constantine to keep him from marrying Epiphany. Nergal, a bloodthirsty demon, intends to slaughter both the groom and bride at the altar. Constantine’s demon half has plans of his own to replace our hero, and the two antagonists are in a frantic race to get their hands on him first. As Nergal and his yellow-eyed minions surround the church, Epiphany has problems of her own to deal with: Her father disapproves of the marriage, while her uncle intends to break out of prison to attend the ceremony. Doubts continue to plague the soon-to-be bride as she wonders if Constantine will actually show up or leave her standing alone at the altar.

Writer Peter Milligan switches back and forth between the bride and groom as they both deal with cold feet, and visitors from Constantine’s past jump back into his life, wanting an explanation for his recent engagement. The conclusion is wrapped up neatly, while offering glimpses of upcoming story arcs. Artist Giuseppe Camuncoli presents a slick and exaggerated look at Constantine and the rest of his world. In a humorous take, the church is crowded with deformed freaks, zombies and ghosts, and Camuncoli clearly had tremendous fun illustrating Constantine with a bloodsoaked spinal cord in his hand.

HELLBLAZER #275 is a major turning point in the long-running series, dealing with the question of how the supernatural detective would actually handle marriage. Everyone leaves John Constantine at some point, because they either die or go insane. Will Epiphany Greaves be the next victim on the list? For more about Constantine’s previous adventures, visit the Vertigo Comics website.