”The Smokeless Fire” begins this week as Hellblazer track a man in Paris France. What could go wrong? Well it involves finding a man who once ventured Arabia…is it good?
The Hellblazer #7 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The summary reads:
“The Smokeless Fire” part 1! Constantine once heard a ghost story in a Parisian bar, and maybe the old man wasn’t just telling tales. So he takes Mercury in search of the only man he knows who’s encountered the Djinn. Problem is, they’re not the only people looking!
Why does this book matter?
We spoke to Simon Oliver a few months ago and his thoughts on the series have us intrigued. Add in artist Philip Tan as he joins the series and we’re downright ready for anything!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
What is going on behind Hellblazer in that bottom panel?
Oliver opens this issue well as Hellblazer and Mercury walk about Paris. This leads to a storied past of a man who may have discovered a mysterious power. That’s right, Hellblazer is getting himself involved with a genie! As he searches, the dialogue adds nice banter with humor that should give readers a kick.
Things get dark very fast as Philip Tan reveals men entering the house of the man Hellblazer is after. I really dig how he renders faces with a manga like look that’s all his own. With the help of colorist Elmer Santos, the flashback to Arabia 1936 has an otherworldly feel.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This book is way too dark. About halfway through the scenes take place at night so it’s obviously going to be dark, but it’s so dark it’s hard to follow what is happening. Tan’s art is somewhat simplistic which adds to the confusion. One panel, where Hellblazer jumps out a window, had me staring at the panel way too long as I tried to make sense of it (his coat is flapping up as he falls down though it’s rendered via a black smudge with yellow lines). To make matters worse, the villains in this issue aren’t easily discernable from each other. Again I found myself flipping between pages to figure out who was who.
The plot of this issue is your classic McGuffin story, at least at this point, which leaves you wanting more. The flashback reveals very little, making it difficult to care beyond a mysterious power. Been there done that. Add in the issues above, and a rushed introduction to a sympathetic character, and I was left rather underwhelmed by this issue.
Is that Lawrence of Arabia?
Is It Good?
You can’t deny Hellblazer is written well, but this issue is mired in problems from art that’s hard to follow to a rushed McGuffin that’s hard to care about. I’m curious, but only because you’re left with so many questions and no answers.