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Hellblazer issue 43

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Hellblazer #43
HB43
Story title(s)
'Dangerous Habits, part 3: Friends in High Places'
Cover
Script
Art
Will Simpson (pencils), Mark Pennington (inks)
Colours
Tom Ziuko
Letters
Gaspar
Editor
Cover date
July 1991
Collected in
Previous issue
Next issue

John Constantine: Hellblazer #43 (July 1991) A desperate Constantine turns to his supernatural contacts for help, but discovers that Heaven won't have him and Hell wants him far too badly.

Plot summaryEdit

The issue opens with John reminiscing about one of the "patients" from the Fear Machine that Mercury told him about, a little boy by the name of Matthew, who was terrified of cancer. John looks down and sees that his entire body has bloated into a single sticky, malformed tumour and he can easily identify with Matthew's fears.

John wakes up from this vivid nightmare on a bench by the seaside, and we learn that such dreams have been plaguing him a lot lately, and that it's been over a month since he learned of his [issue 41|condition]. The cancer has begun to take its toll, and John's feeling worse by the minute. It took him two weeks to contact the person he's about to meet. He is startled by Ellie; a pretty girl that has something more than meets the eye. While they share a cup of coffee and sandwiches, they discuss John's recent meeting with the Lord and Ruler of Hell. It turns out Ellie is a succubus, and one of John's "informants" from the nether regions. She tells him how furious her "boss" has been since John tricked him into drinking holy water. The Devil (or First of the Fallen) is aware of John's condition, and is impatiently waiting for John's soul to show up at his doorstep, so he can take his time destroying it, over and over again. John tries to get Ellie to help him, but although she apparently owes him big time, she tells him her hands are tied this time. John rises from the bench to leave, claiming that he's screwed. Ellie catches up to him, and tells him that he still has two options left: to repent his sins, so he could receive absolution, thus avoiding to go to Hell (to which John replies that he seriously doubt his sins could ever be repented), or get the cancer cured, so he's still have few more years to try and wriggle out of this situation. John informs her that his cancer is terminal, and that the Swamp Thing won't even talk to him, let alone cure his cancer. Ellie then presents him with a third alternative: someone called the Snob. At first, John is disgusted by the very thought, but when Ellie reminds him that the Snob is very well connected and his only chance, he decides to swallow his pride. John thanks Ellie for her council and tells her that she's pretty decent, considering what she is. She bears her fangs with a grin and tells him that's she's just polite. Having a few hours to kill before he pays a visit to the Snob in his club, where we're told he usually resides, John remembers he has a promise to keep, so he drops by the cancer ward in the hospital, to see old Matt. During their friendly chit-chat, John tells Matt how he's still searching for a way to screw the cancer, and Matt tells John how he, when informed of his condition - he decided to drink himself to death instead. For a moment John muses how he should introduce Matt to the Snob, just to piss him off, and explains to the old geezer that the Snob is a wanker of the highest degree, who looks down upon everyone, to which Matt replies how he had a commanding officer in the army who was like that, and he tells John an amusing anecdote regarding the fate of officer Carstairs.

Still under the impression of Matt's tale, John heads towards Snob's resting grounds. Caught in the London rain, he arrives in front of the Cambridge Club, where an elegantly dressed doorman/bouncer informs him he cannot enter due to his inadequate clothing, and the lack of an invitation. One vintage Conjob trick later, and John's inside. He tells himself that his use of petty magic is acceptable given the urgency of the situation. He finds the Snob by the fireplace, his usual spot, having a conversation with a short, pudgy man. It seems that the Snob, a striking, tall blond young man, has been frequenting the club ever since its foundation, yet he doesn't look his age. John arrives at the very end of their conversation, and from what we hear, it seems that the short man, named Charlie, has been providing Snob with some information. John intercepts Charlie on his way out, catching him off guard. John notes that someone like The Snob shouldn't be fraternising with a racist thug like Charlie, and makes a mental note of the meeting for the future, should he have one. As they pass, Constantine tells Charlie that he hopes he's been straight with The Snob. Charlie looks startled and walks on. Constantine approaches the Snob, with a nonchalant attitude, making allusions to his wings and life eternal, since Snob appears to be an angel, and a high-ranking one at that. Snob informs Constantine that he knows what he wants, and calls his visit a waste of precious time. John informs him of his meeting with Ellie, and the Snob advises him to seek counsel with her, considering she is more his type of person. John directly asks for his help, and the Snob refuses. When questioned why he won't help him, Snob stays true to his name, informing him he doesn't deserve his help. John reminds him of the many favors he did for him, but the Snob replies debts mean nothing to his kind, and that Constantine himself is quite meaningless as well. When asked to leave, John refuses, demanding an explanation for his situation. Snob makes it all sound so simple - John is dying thanks to his nasty smoking habit, and he's going to hell due to his rather sinful life. He then continues to humiliate Constantine by reminding him of a few of his cardinal sins. Constantine has an angry outburst, asking what happened to all the good he has done. Informed that the evil in his life outweighs the good, John gets more and more riled, accusing the Snob and his kind of being the true problem, by looking at everything in black and white, creating rules without understanding people in the first place. The Snob threatens him, and tells him that his own arrogance and foolishness had doomed him to Hell, nothing else. John informs him that he may not be the only one who'll end up there, and reminds him of his previous guest that evening, Mr. Charlie Patterson. He mocks the Snob for not checking him out, and informs him that Patterson climbed the social ladder thanks to a group called The National Front. Constantine calls the Snob by his true name - Gabriel - and warns the angel that if his Father finds out who he's hanging out with, he won't be happy. Constantine then angrily leaves the club, happy to see that it's still raining, because, as he puts it, he needs a bath.

A couple of hours later, John's in a pub, drowning his sorrow and anger in alcohol. He is still trying to figure out why he has a feeling he's approaching the situation from the wrong perspective. Ordering the last drink for the evening, he suddenly realizes his problem - he shouldn't be asking help from others, but rely on himself. He realises that he has misunderstood his problem: he believed that Hell had laid claim to his soul, but Hell is just a place, not a person. If he wants to free himself, he needs to take down the one who wants his soul. And with that, John hatches a sneaky and crazy plan to free himself from eternal torment. John bribes the bartender into giving him one last drink, even though they called last orders. It seems he's going to need it.

ContinuityEdit

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