by Jamie Delano (from Hellblazer vol. 2 – The Devil You Know)
“Hell is a slow, cold dream… a numb descent to absolute zero… a dead-eyed observation of atrocity. It’s where you go to chill out when the horror catches up with you. You can easily die there, and never even care.”
Hellblazer is the comic series that inspired the Keanu Reeves film Constantine, and the below is limited to the final two issues of volume 2. Within this volume, among six others, is a two-part story that’s some of the best material you’re ever likely to read in the format. “Antarctica” (credited as from The Horrorist #1-2) is a self-contained arc and it’s absolutely brutal in its depiction of the world.
Constantine is searching for the woman with ‘black hole eyes’, immortalized by a war photographer in a famous picture taken years earlier. The woman herself is a sad case, exhibiting a kind of stoic misery as the surrounding death toll grows.
The story can seem a bit abstract at times, and is certainly philosophical while still containing fire and brimstone, but it’s more. It cuts deeply with its unapologetic depression, and an intensely introspective John Constantine brings his pain to the surface while the writing lashes both character and reader.
If you’re in a melancholy mood, don’t read this. If you’re in an even darker place, for God’s sake stay away. But if you’re looking for potency, costs be damned, Jamie Delano’s “Antarctica” is a spellbinding, emotionally heavy tale that might have you clinging closer to the person next to you in gratitude for being there (should you be so lucky).