Hellblazer: All His Engines – Review
Story by: Mike Carey
Art by: Leonardo Manco
Published by: DC/Vertigo Comics
John Constantine, trench coat clad occult detective and all around bastard, must leave his native lands along with his faithful best mate Chas to save not only Chas’ granddaughter Trish, but millions of people around the world afflicted with an unknown paranormal coma.
All His Engines, is arguably one of the best stories in Hellblazer’s long, long list of amazing stories. In my opinion it’s an incredibly close second to “Dangerous Habits”, the quintessential Hellblazer tale. When someone mentions Hellblazer or John Constantine, Mike Carey‘s All His Engines is always what comes to my mind before anything. The story was even adapted into NBC’s (unjustly) canceled series “Constantine” episode “Quid Pro Quo”. It was not an incredibly faithful of a adaptation as this is not a story you can fit into a clean 42 minute episode, but the base story is still there.
Mike Carey, the creative genius behind “Lucifer” presents us with a new take on Los Angeles from Constantine’s perspective , a grimier, more desperate version where you can pay off a drug addicted ex-priest to bless holy water for you, and where precolonial gods can still be found. He nails the characters of John Constantine and Chas perfectly, twerks their personalities ever so slightly, giving them a slightly darker (if that’s even possible) feel to them that fit’s the environment and Carey’s writing style perfectly. His introduction of the demon Beroul provides a very ambitious and sinister antagonist, who is trying to corner the market of “Hell on Earth”, and holds Trish’s soul hostage in order to force Constantine into knocking off rival local demons who stand in his way, and the lengths Constantine will go to to come out on top.
The world that Leonardo Manco created brings another level to the feeling of the story. He takes our world and warps it ever so slightly, everything has a worn look to it, and everyone’s faces (even second hand characters) look like they have a dark story behind their eyes. The bleakness of Los Angeles is a stark contrast to what we normally see of Los Angeles in any media as All His Engines is NOT an LA that is bathed in the lights of Hollywood. As depressing as it sounds, I found it as a fascinating and refreshing take on the city.
All His Engines is a thoroughly enjoyable read on plenty of levels. It’s heart is in the right place, but this is not a feel good story and even though the ending isn’t completely bleak, it does leave a bit of a bad taste in your mouth afterwards. John Constantine is one of my favorite comic book characters, and All His Engines embodies the character perfectly, and sets the stage for several large American based story arcs featuring our favorite “exorcist, demonologist, and petty dabbler in the dark arts”. This is one of those graphic novels that needs to be part of your collection, so do yourself a favor and get to your local comic shop and get yourself a copy. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Overall: 10/10 Holy crap! A perfect score!