I’ve read the entire three hundred issue run of Hellblazer in trade editions save some in the middle of the run that Vertigo, a unit of DC Comics, from reasons not terribly clear to anyone was not released in that format. Well, there is the belief that the stories were really shitty. However I’ve only kept two stories of that really long run of which this is one, the other being the Lady Constantine story which details the story of an ancestor of John who was her own problems.
Of these two, this story set exclusively in India is by far the stronger story as it neatly plays off the British experience in India and what happens when that experience takes a horrible turn into the supernatural world that Constantine know all too well.
Constantine is in India looking for a way to resurrect a dead lover. Yes he’s being his usual self-centered asshole only interested in what he wants with no thought to the consequences of bringing back one of the dead. And in case you’ve been offended by the recent Constantine series with its non-smoking’ non-cursing take on him, be assured that Constantine is full-on smoking, drinking, and just plain irritating self.
(It wasn’t the depiction of Constantine that I didn’t like, nor even moving him to the States from his haunting grounds of London. No, it was the truly bad scripts in all but two of the episodes.)
(I’m assuming that if you’re reading this review, that you already know about him, so I’m not giving you unneeded backstory.)
So naturally something really ugly comes the way of Constantine which naturally gets him completely pissed off. It seems that during the height of the British Raj, an Imperial Army officer with a taste for raping and then murdering young Indian women called up and merged with a demon that looks a male Shiva crossed with a really nasty demon. So Constantine in his usual manner of all bad supernatural shit finds him hip deep in shit.
Seems that a local con artist Constantine knew back in London has re-invented himself as New Age guru of, errr, very fake credentials. Unknown to Constantine, the nata mark he was placed on his forehead is the same Mark he places on those women he’s marked for the demon officer to hunt down and brutally kill.
Milligan gets the character right, has gotten the feel of India today right, correctly has stated the extent of corruption of the British Raj, and has written a better than just good Hellblazer story. If you like this series and you’ve not read this story, I highly recommend that you do so.