“Staring at the Wall (Part 3 of 5)”
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Marcelo Frusin
John Constantine’s been had. The apocalyptic evil he was trying to stop was not the Shadow-Dog at all but his girlfriend’s brother Jason. Now he’s in for it.
Opening with a disturbing sequence of a local priest being nailed to a cross by his possessed congregation you could say that things are looking fairly grim. The mood-setting colors go into overtime now as all hell breaks loose. Constantine has been majorly had. The Shadow-Dog was never the enemy at all. The bad guy was hanging out in Jason, Angie’s brother. The Shadow-Dog was actually a protector trying to chase Jason down. Jason used Constantine and his friend’s to kill the Dog which leaves him free to assume full power now in bringing about the end of the world. This is all summed up in case you didn’t get it in the first couple of pages and it leaves with a satisfying “ahh”. As Constantine’s group disbands he is left alone at the old hotel with Angie, her dead brother and what looks like the Phantom Stranger who helps fill in the blanks. While the Stranger is drawn in a suitably grim demeanor his actions are a bit off for my liking. He knew Constantine was screwing up by killing the Dog, but as he puts it “But it is not permitted to me to save you from yourselves”. This strikes me as rather odd. I am no expert on this character but it seems to me he’s offered plenty of help in the past to various DC characters. But this is a minor annoyance. However, his anger at Constantine for his arrogance seems more than an annoyance. At least Constantine was trying to do something. You would think that would get him some slack. As a result the discussion between the two doesn’t come off as realistic given their past history. But as I said, we can live with this and keep the story rolling. His talk with Angie, sitting over her dead brother, is much better. As you can imagine she has had enough of Constantine but she also knows she shares some of the blame too.
So after knocking back a few and witnessing some more of the horror being unleashed on the world (people burning themselves alive even as the evil taunts Constantine for his mistake) Constantine decides to confront this thing head on, performing a small ritual that brings him to it. It ends up being nicely drawn and nasty. Looking like a cross between a Balrog and your classic devil it cites its grievances to Constantine (like Festivus from Seinfeld!). It also repeats that Constantine will be dealt with last, which is a bit of a cliché (well will these villains ever learn?) but overall the confrontation is well done, the best part being that halfway through you realize Constantine has a plan. He is of course making it up as he goes and all we get for now is that he calls his niece to come to his hotel where his body is pretty much drooling on itself as he hangs out with the demon. Actually when we leave him he is pretty much being devoured. But you get the sense that somewhere down in that thing’s stomach Constantine is going to light a cigarette and say something like now I’ve got him.
In true five-part fashion we’ve hit the climax of the story here in Act III. This is nicely paced and as I’ve said more action oriented than intellectually stimulating. But it’s good action and there’s something to be said for that.
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