Hellblazer, Volume 15: Highwater

Hellblazer, Volume 15: Highwater

It’s been a long, hard road that John Constantine has followed across the badlands of America.After walking out of a burning maximum-security prison, into the hollows of Appalachia and through the snows of the Great Plains, England’s greatest magician is approaching the final leg of his intracontinental trek—and closing in on the real reason for the suicide of Richard “Luc...

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Title:Hellblazer, Volume 15: Highwater
Author:Brian Azzarello
Rating:
ISBN:1401265790
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:320 pages

Hellblazer, Volume 15: Highwater Reviews

  • A
    Jan 11, 2017

    Not to sound ungrateful Vertigo, but having to watch all the beautiful original cover art get slowly replaced by these hack jobs is the real horror here. Are you just paying your artists in Monopoly money or what?

  • Shadowdenizen
    Jan 11, 2017

    While this was a decent read and I still love the Hellblazer saga, Brian Azzarelo's work really doesn't speak to me...

    I've also mosly liked the covers for these "New Editions", but this one was a bit of a let-down.

    3.5 stars, reluctantly rounded down.

  • Sylvester
    Feb 10, 2017

    The first arc was once again, about Neo-Nazi (this has already been done before). Most written as narration on the mindset of the skinheads, but their views were basically what a rational common man would have held, so it's mostly an SJW rant. Then we are greeted with a small one issue story about Constatine (attempted to) having a threesome. Lastly we have a sex club arc that had amazing cover arts but the story itself was rather dull and predictable. I really don't like Azzarello, he can't wri

    The first arc was once again, about Neo-Nazi (this has already been done before). Most written as narration on the mindset of the skinheads, but their views were basically what a rational common man would have held, so it's mostly an SJW rant. Then we are greeted with a small one issue story about Constatine (attempted to) having a threesome. Lastly we have a sex club arc that had amazing cover arts but the story itself was rather dull and predictable. I really don't like Azzarello, he can't write.

  • Donald
    Jan 22, 2017

    I have to echo Shadowdenizen's review in that this is a 3.5 rounded down.

    In terms of plot and content, this volume's pretty memorable: a young Constantine on a quest for a magic artifact, Constantine in America confronting Neo-Nazis, Constantine's immolated corpse showing up in an S&M club. I'd be excited by the idea of these stories if you suggested then to me, but the execution misses the mark.

    A big part of that is the fact that Constantine is in America. It's not just that Constantine is

    I have to echo Shadowdenizen's review in that this is a 3.5 rounded down.

    In terms of plot and content, this volume's pretty memorable: a young Constantine on a quest for a magic artifact, Constantine in America confronting Neo-Nazis, Constantine's immolated corpse showing up in an S&M club. I'd be excited by the idea of these stories if you suggested then to me, but the execution misses the mark.

    A big part of that is the fact that Constantine is in America. It's not just that Constantine is a British character, there's something about his despair and contempt that's uniquely British. In his home country, he's the rake, the underdog, the man who loses even when he wins. Constantine isn't so much a magician as someone who knows how the river runs and the best place to stand to both survive its passing as well as redirect it to his momentary benefit. What he knows is Britain and its well-worn ways--both its old history and its old class structures.

    America is a fundamentally different setting so Constantine, by necessity, becomes more of a magician, more of a malevolent spirit who's going to win regardless of the situation, and that victory is a problem. He's no longer the rake ultimately trying to charm his way into a bed and a beer, he's, as the main villain in this volume says, the Liar, the trickster, and that mantle isn't a good fit for him.

    These problems are accentuated by Azzarello's dialogue. He's aiming for a hard-boiled noir-ish voice for a lot of the characters, and it comes across really forced, almost parodic when it's not clunky exposition. The text feels, sadly, a little smug, like he thinks he's come up with something really clever--especially in the final story--only it's not that clever.

    To the good, the story with the Neo-Nazis *was* inventive, surprising, and viscerally satisfying and the whole volume moves at a good clip. And it's not that the writing isn't smart, it just gets bogged down in a faux edginess with story elements that are there because Azzarello thinks they'll shock the audience instead of being central to the telling. That's what I mean by "smug."

    The volume, though, all the stories together, deal with the themes of the past and future--the acceptance of the former and the uncontrollable nature of the latter. Characters are obsessed with controlling their future and unable to forget the past, undone by the promises of oracles and freed only when they walk away from old debts, and, being a Hellblazer book, that's if they're freed at all. That is done with subtly and is really smart.

    In the end, this isn't my favorite stretch of Hellblazer, but it's not bad. The concept, Constantine in America, has promise, but I don't think these stories lock onto the setting the way Hellblazer traditionally does with Britain. It has some nice touches, one great arc, and is thematically well-composed, but misses the mark with elements like its noir pretenses that just don't work.

  • Mimi Schweid
    Jan 31, 2017

    I love the Brian Azzarello run, it's all kinds of weird and horrifying.

  • Chris Lemmerman
    Feb 15, 2017

    Brian Azzarello's run on Hellblazer ends in these final thirteen issues, concluding Constantine's wanderings across America in search for the reason why one of his friends killed himself (as seen in the previous volume.)

    The first two issues are a flashback tale with guest art by Guy Davis, who fits the grungy time period very well as we see John back during his Mucus Membrane days trying to con someone, as he does. The gravity of this story doesn't come into play until the final arc of this seri

    Brian Azzarello's run on Hellblazer ends in these final thirteen issues, concluding Constantine's wanderings across America in search for the reason why one of his friends killed himself (as seen in the previous volume.)

    The first two issues are a flashback tale with guest art by Guy Davis, who fits the grungy time period very well as we see John back during his Mucus Membrane days trying to con someone, as he does. The gravity of this story doesn't come into play until the final arc of this series, so it's much better in hindsight than on a first reading.

    The Highwater story that this volume is named after is disturbing as hell, as John finds himself in a town run by neo-Nazis, which is gross. John gets his hands dirty though, so the ultimate conclusion, while not satisfying, is darkly enjoyable.

    The next two issues with guest art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, whose art is still as recognizable here as it is today, give John a bit of a breather between arcs, reintroducing the detective from the first of Azzarello's arcs as well as checking in with John's friend the Lord Of The Dance.

    And finally, Azzarello's last arc, the five part Ashes And Dust In The City Of Angels, which is maybe two issues too long, but a fitting end to the saga he's been telling with John. John himself is barely in it, instead playing with the detective character and the villain for the most part, but when he does show up, shit goes down.

    Marcelo Frusin draws the main two stories here, and again proves well-suited. His faces can become a little samey, but I still love how creepy he makes Constantine look and his use of shadows is brilliant.

    This is actually a pretty subdued volume of Hellblazer. The stories hit hard, but they do it without you realising. There aren't high stakes, or big magical portents, or even a demon or anything. Instead, it's John against some sick as hell humans, and that's even more disturbing than when he's going up against the First Of The Fallen.

  • Sam
    Feb 16, 2017

    Blah. I wish they hadn't given this to Azzarello. I'm not enjoying all his hard boiled stuff in the Hellblazer context. And all the hookers and tits.