Brian Azzarello - Hellblazer: Highwater

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Hellblazer or Highwater: John Constantine gets even darker.

May 15, 2008 (Updated Jan 11, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Brilliant writing wedded to gritty art in a Comic Noir masterpiece.

Cons:Very dark and perverse exploration of obsession. Not for kids.

The Bottom Line: This is excellent writing. Constantine always explores the dark corners, this one is darker than most.


John Constantine Hellblazer: Highwater Written by Brian Azzarello ISBN 1401202233

This 10 issue graphic novel is exactly that: Graphic. Constantine is never about the sunny side of life, but this issue is darker than usual, and definitely not for kids.

Lucky Firmin blew his brains out. Now he’s asking his old mate John Constantine to do him a favor. Considering John handed him the gun, he feels maybe he does owe him, so Constantine is in America, looking up Marjorie, Lucky’s wife.

Lucky is worried about his wife, and some of the people she has fallen in with, White supremacists. So John looks for a way in.

Jimmy is one of the pack leaders of the local cell. He has “War Skin” tattooed on his forehead; the “SS” on the back…Jimmy is a skin head, and a family man. At home, he’s tender, in the world, hard and brutal.

Men like Jimmy don’t lead; they may go first, but it’s on a leash. The man holding his leash is the Major Gage. Major Gage is looking to buy some serious armament. The dealer is called Wolfman. Wolfman is not a skinhead, he’s just a merchant. He’s also a tool, because he rubs the skin heads little button noses in the fact that the best guns in the world are made by the Israelis and suggests that the love of a black girl might just knock the Nazi BS out of them.

So, fate brings Major Gage and Constantine to the body at the same time. Wolfman is strung upside down with the words “N*gger Lover” carved into his belly. Constantine offers to dispose of the body, which buys him at least an invite to be looked over for membership in Major Gage’s little social club.

Gage is more than a little miffed at Jimmy for his impetuous termination of his gun supplier. He figures it will bring trouble down on their little group. He is right.

Here is the spooky thing about this story arc. It deals a very great deal with interpretation of the Bible. It opens with Major Gage’s daughter reading genesis, and interpreting.

“G*d breathed life into Adam. Meaning he gave him divine spirit, which separated him from all creation. Meaning he was special to G*d. The name Adam means ‘to show blood in the face/’ Meaning he could blush. Meaning he was white.”

She goes on in similar vein for quite sometime, until she explains how Genesis proves the Jews were created by Satan. It’s scary.

Later, Marjorie is explaining how her beliefs are not hatred of blacks, but love of her own race.

Marjorie: “Look, for me to decide just on my own that another race is inferior with no scriptural basis for that decision would be sinful. And like it or not, G*d created the Blacks, just as he did cats and dogs. And hating any of G*ado’s creations is morally wrong. But G*d didn’t create the Jews…Satan did. And they won’t rest until me and the people like me either turn their backs on G*d or are wiped from the face of creation. And don’t think for a second they haven’t already started in this country now, I’m supposed to feel ashamed for being an American, and a Christian. I hate those responsible for that…the Jews. The Children of Satan.”

Constantine: “Thanks for clearin’ that bit up. But somethin’…it don’ seem…Kosher. If it’s wrong to hate any of the Good Lord’s creations…”

Marjorie: “I believe it’s a sin.”

Constantine: “Right, right. A sin. So tell me then, who created Satan?”
Marjorie: (Stunned silence)

Constantine: “Night.”

So, then Constantine takes care of the soldiers, letting their own karma in the Wolfman affair do them in. He raises Wolfman’s corpse as a golem, a very Jewish spell. Wolfman extracts his own justice from his murderers. Constantine has some interesting last words for Jimmy.

Jimmy (Beaten and bleeding on the ground): “Help me…

Constantine: “You thick as Pig-Sh!t? Help you? That’s precisely what I’m doing. So how ‘bout you return the favor, sunshine? See, I’ve got a secret, an’ I want to tell it to you, so pay attention.

The Jews really are the Lord’s Chosen People…”

Jimmy: “No…”

Constantine: “C’mon…it’s as obvious the blood on your face. Why else would the miserable bastard F*** with ‘em so much if they didn’ mean somethin’ to ‘im. He’s like a school boy an’ they’re the family dog. He loves ‘em dearly, but He can’t help Himself givin’ ‘em a good boot in the bollocks every now an’ then.”

Jimmy: “Yer lying…”

Constantine: “I am? Tell me where are the Jews now? Israel. After centuries of persecution they finally got their own country. Why? ‘Cause a f***ing maniac with a talent for bringin’ out the worst in people an’ ‘avin’ ‘em believe it’s their best, killed six million of ‘em. The Jews wouldn’t ‘ave their bleedin’ promised land, if it weren’t for Hitler. File that under ‘mysterious ways.’”

And Major Gage? Major Gage gets to deal with Wolfman’s boss, Mr. Manor, one of the richest men in the world, and Constantine’s old boyfriend. He might have been better off with the golem of Wolfman’s corpse.

The next issue is a little interlude piece, and that could be the name of the girl…Constantine decides to hire a hooker. But he needs money, so he uses magic to win at Bingo…no, I’m not making this up! He needs a room for the deed, so he decides to share with Detective Turro. It’s a weird, rauchy little piece, even though the story fades to black before any one gets down to doing the nasty. And it sets up the last story arc.

Here it runs in brief. It’s at the end, Constantine is dead, (Say what?) burned to a crisp from the inside out. He died in a sex club, and Detective Turro is working the case. It’s like watching Rashamon, with whips and chains. Every pervert in the club has a different take on what happened.

It emerges that the responsible person might be S. W. Manor, one of the richest, most corrupt men on the planet. Why would S.W. Manor want John Constantine dead? They were lovers once, but S. W. felt he was betrayed by his love. What did Constantine do? What S. W. asked him to.

This is an exploration of obsession, one of the darkest and alluring of disorders. It shows how our desires can overcome our rational side and erode our sense of self. Justification greases the descent into darkness.

This tale is very dark, and deals frankly with sex and its evil stepsisters, perversion and obsession. It is cutting and insightful and can make one think. But this book is not for dilettantes. Sex and corruption of innocence and murder do not make for light fare. But if you are read for a different kind of comic book, a Film Noir on paper, then this is an excellent read.

Check out the Movie: Constantine

Other Hellblazer Graphic Novels:
Hellblazer: Joyride
Hellblazer: Highwater
Hellblazer: The Red Right Hand
Hellblazer: The Red Sepulchre

The Lavender Quill
Gay Non-Fiction

Is It a Choice?
The Martian Child
What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality
Gay Tales of the Samurai


Gay Fiction.

Son of a Witch
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Raised by Wolves: Brethern
Raised by Wolves: Matelots
Raised by Wolves: Treasure
Raised by Wolves: Wolves
Master of Seacliff 
Ransom
Forbidden Colours
Lord John and the Private Matter
Lord John and the Hand of Devils
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade

Comics and Graphic Novels

Side by Side
Fogtown
Black Wade: The Wild Side of Love
The Authority: Prime
Hellblazer: Highwater
Midnighter: Anthem
Midnighter: Killing Machine
Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather
Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather (part 2)


Recommend this product? Yes


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