Staring At The Wall, Part 4 of 5
Annotations By :
Adrian Brown

Click Here for issue synopsis

Page 1

Remember that Gemma and John were in Kings Cross.

As they are heading south through the West End, there is a good chance that this scene takes place on Whitehall. This is exquisite political irony as Whitehall (& Trafalgar Square) is where all the good riots take place.

And Mike and I were both on the anti-war march last year which passed peacefully along this very thoroughfare.

That London Bus is a Routemaster. Probably the number 11.

The Vauxhall Bridge is also in keeping with those directions.

It's just five minutes away from where I live, and crosses the river right next to the TOP SECRET MI5 building (which you may see in the issues of Queen & Country drawn by Carla Speed McNeill).

Page 2

"Those spiky things" = The Lukhavim from #181

From Chas's comments, it seems he feels responsible for falling out with John, whereas it was discussed at the time of "Black Flowers" that his missus might be keeping him away.

The view of The Houses of Parliament out the back window of the taxi is not bad at all. However, the flower shop is artistic licence.

Page 3

"KRA-TISCH" ??? Are you kidding ???

African Violet (saintpaulia confusa) - well, if you wanted to prevent someone dying, what better way than to use a flower called "Confused St Paul?" Oh wait, I'm thinking of St Peter. However, Baron Walter Von Saintpaul was the chap who discovered the flower in 1892.

Saintpaulia confusa: One of the 20 confirmed species of Saintpaulia. May be multiple-stemmed, but usually grows as a single-crowned plant. S. confusa has purple flowers and medium, green, slightly serrated and quilted leaves. It tends to grow sideways, over the rim of the pot. Many of today's varieties are the descendants of hybrid developed from S. confusa and S. ionantha. Confusa derives from the Latin confusus (confused). The nomenclature is said to recognize either the the plant's sideways or "confused" growth habit or the fact that the species was initially mistaken for S. ionantha.

In the Victorian language of flowers, purple violets meant "you occupy my thoughts" which is exactly what The Beast With No Name (TBWNN) intends.

"They make a house a home" is a direct quote from an advert for the flowers in the Mail on Sunday and possibly the Daily Mail too.

The Daily Mail is the UK's middle class paper. It is predominantly Tory. The best description of British newspapers can be found in the excellent political satirical sitcom, Yes Minister.

"The Daily Mirror is read by the people who think they run the country. The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country. The Independent is read by people who aren't sure who runs the country, but are sure they are doing it wrong. The Times is read by the people who run the country. The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country. The Financial Times is read by the people who own the country. The Daily Telegraph is read by people who still think it's their country. And The Sun's readers don't care who runs the country, providing she has big tits."

More quotes from the programme can be found here.

Page 4

A tiny bit flexible on the old "lock up" continuity.

Still it could have been worse !

See how well Marcelo did on the outside of the lock-up

It's not strictly-speaking "John's" although I can see why Chas tends to disown it !

"Three Yales, A Chubb and a padlock"

Yale and Chubb are major lock manufacturers.

"A really nice neighbourhood" - Streatham's not bad actually.

Bootle is part of Liverpool, I think mentioned back in High on Life, but can you check for me, I don't have the time.

The inside of the lock-up is too big. Like the TARDIS from Dr Who !

When we've seen it before, it's been quite cluttered with files and there'd be no windows.

James - I think - observed the homunculus with a twig sticking out of its heart. Could that be the stick from Eden ?

The funny shaped brains are funny.

How did the Oath-Swearing brain get back here ? Does John carry a spare ?

Oh, and is that a toad stone , bottom left?

Page 5

Okay, some of these HAVE to be from past stories.

Any guesses ?

A foetus in a jar.

A bat - perhaps stolen from SW Manor.

Some runestones. I see eohl and segel there.

A hand (of glory).

A snake in a jar.

A stone with runes on it.

What *did* he use them for ?

"Insert houseplant. Light blue touchpaper and retire."

The second part is of course part of the firework code ignored by young boys on the streets of Britain's cities from early October until 5th November and beyond.

Heeeere's Swampy !

"Gordon Bennett" - general purpose exclamation, thought to be an euphemism for "God" / "Gawd".

James Gordon-Bennett was actually a high profile bon viveur and rake.

"Shplup, Blip, Shplup"

These sound effects are getting silly !

These ones are clearly taken from Don Martin's great work for Mad Comic.

Page 6

A Swampy Life Support System.

Swampy has exercised control over the human body before, and his naughty daughter can actually control flesh ! As he says, the Beast has closed off the human consciousness - although I wonder what effect Swampy's hallucinogenic tubers might have ?

(qv annotations for 185)

Page 7

Berlin - that's the Brandenburg Gate in the background.

An interesting symbol of German history.

Lima - these look like the peasant dwellings (are they called El Barrio ?) that assemble outside of South American cities.

Los Angeles - surely nothing to do with any films currently being made in that city. It is unsurprising that Lucifer & Mazikeen are there, I understand they are working as senior executive producers on aforementioned film.

So I need to to say anything about Lucifer ?

Briefly: This version created by Neil Gaiman for the Sandman series, and made his own by our very own Mike Carey. Lucifer could pretty much put all this nonsense right at the click of his fingers. As he says, however, he has his own world to play with.

Mazikeen is his right hand woman and warrior. One of the Lilim, descendants of Lilith. She used to have half of her face covered in a mask after it was scarred by her "husband" (as seen in Lucifer). This damage was repaired (mistakenly - no spoilers here) and she now paints the left side of her face to appear like the mask.

Hollywood Boulevard ?

Page 8

Latin, German, Portuguese - the languages of EVIL !

An interesting thought here. Gemma has the help of apparently the only two folks who have not deserted John. How much easier would this have been if Clarice was around ?

Page 9

"Dwale" is in effect an alkaloid derived from the Deadly Nightshade (atropa belladonna). This name, from old English, means doubt, no doubt (ahem) a reference to the state caused by the drug. It is one of those naturally occuring substances that is effective in the right dose, but deadly if taken in too high a dose.

It's derivative, atropine is used in Western medicine as a muscle relaxant.

"Toadstones" ... look ! THERE ! right next to you !

Actually, these are calcified lumps - a bit like gallstones - from the stomachs of toads OR fossils of fish that were mistaken for toads. Perhaps these were the mediaeval equivalent of antacids ?

It occurs to me that using medical methods to feign death would have been a better option for John than cutting his wrist.

Page 10

"Blood and spit" The vital ingredients of life-restoring magic potions !

Gemma's banter with Chas about "can't cook, won't cook" reminds us of her Uncle.

"Desperation" "you must be qualified in that. You're over forty."

Cheeky mare !

Page 11

"Hackney" Tim moved back here in the Dylan Horrocks series of Books of Magic. He had been off at a "Magic School" and got menaced by some folks involved in a conspiracy requiring the elimination of magicians.

They did not all live happily ever after.

Now, London's burning, right ?

And there are people rioting on the streets ?

Don't you think there's going to be all Hell to clean up afterwards ?

Yo Yo was Tim's pet owl that was created in the first BoM miniseries by Neil Gaiman. If memory serves me right it was by Dr Occult, and later involved some sort of connection with Merlin.

In the original series, when Yo-Yo the owl dies and changes back to a yo-yo, it becomes a symbol of Tim's acceptance of magic. As he decides to believe and use his power to bring the owl back to life.

In the most recent series, Merlin was connected to Yo-Yo like in the Disney film The Sword in the Stone, but that was ended when Merlin died. (Again, I have a vague memory that Merlin was replaced by Yo-Yo, because we *have* to have a Merlin !)

It is interesting, is it not, that the flame that Tim conjures to find the threat goes to his heart and not his mind. I'd expect the collective consciousness to be in the latter.

Page 12

The Beast says it is in everyone's "secret heart" This is not a reference to the 1946 film starring Claudette Colbert and Walter Pidgeon, but the song by Kylie Minogue.

One of Tim's tasks in the Dylan Horrocks series was to find his true name. In doing so he developed a useful insight into names and languages. He might even have been able to name the Beast with no name.

Page 13

That's a cack-handed colouring job on Swampy's African Violets !

We've covered toadstone and dwale before.

Aconite is another herb

once again, it's toxic in usual doses, but has found use in homeopathy (where it would be diluted).
In times gone by it was used in cardiac failure - so quite useful here.

Gemma mixes it with John's body fluids and her own, presumably to create a link between them for the ritual she is about to perform.

Page 14

When Constantinian Consciousnesses Congregate !

Page 15

As usual, Chas is in the dark about a Constantine's plans.

The panty shot, that staple of soft porn and Sharon Stone films, seems gratuitous here.

Swampy says vivimancy - communion with souls - as mentioned by John in #191 when he called Gemma. Swampy also notes that the soul has not left the body. The suggestion was that John cut his wrists to face the Beast in his lair , since the Beast controls people via their consciousness, would he control sleeping people ? What I am thinking here is that John is not dead but fading away. It is a race against time, obviously.

So, here's a symbolic vision quest for Gemma - going inside her Uncle's mind.

Page 16

It has been observed that a load of folks from the super-powered end of the DCU ought to be helping out, but (i) the human ones will be under the influence of the Beast, and (ii) the others will have their hands full.

Anyway, no-one in their right mind wants a load of spandex and capes prancing around the pages of Hellblazer.

Considering the Beast has been stewing its resentment against mankind since the beginning of creation, you would think it's have a longer attention span. This is less than three days since he's been running amuck in the world, a week at the longest estimate.

Bathos ? preposterous transition from seriousness that ends up as comedy ? Nah. Anticlimax, maybe.
Guignol ? horrifying maybe, but not the most grandiose type I can imagine.

Page 17

Now, John has created this situation with Gemma, and all she can think of at this time of crisis is an apology ? There's that Constantine self-centredness again.

Page 18

Gemma's been told "magic is a dirty game" a few times before. Notably by John's ex, Kit.

"Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party" is a typing exercise, despite sounding like something George W Bush would never have said. It was devised by Charles E Weller in 1867 as a speed test for the first typewriter, and became a slogan for Ulysses S Grant's presidential campaign. It has become a well-known phrase but has become hackneyed through over-use.

"Esophagus" - perhaps it's her accent, but Gemma would be using the English spelling ("oesophagus") rather than the American one. It's the top end of the digestive tract, leading into the stomach.

John's chopping away here is not symbolic. My first thought was that these tendril-like structures in the oesophagus are part of Swampy's plant-based life support system. And I suspected John is making sure that they don't totally revive him.

"I'm brain-dead because I flatlined" - anyone who has seen Kiefer Sutherland - former fan-favourite American for the role of John Constantine - in Flatliners, should know that this refers to the line that occurs on an ECG monitor when someone dies. As we have seen, there would have been better ways for John to achieve this, but he was in a hurry.

Page 19

There seems to be some flawed thinking here.

If being brain dead allows someone to exit the collective unconsciousness, there'd be a few more people than John immune to the Beast. Swampy for a start.

John says the tendrils ("these psychic tentacle things") are actually the Beast's way of seeking John in the human collective unconsciousness. He also says he's built up a dead zone around the lock up and Gemma, Chas and Swamp Thing.

"And the US marine corps. They'll be turning up shortly."

There has been much debate about this. Obviously, it's not the real Marines, but is it a throw away sarky comment from Constantine, or is it a reference to an American who is coming to help ?

Zatanna ? Tefe ? The Spectre again ? Aquaman ? The WHOLE JLA ?

Or maybe just one of his team who has apparently abandoned him ?

Page 20

"It's all part of the big plan"

Hmmm, once again, Angie was involved in the big plan. Sooner or later we have to find out about the hair in Eden and the pointy stick.

Of course Chas would want to be with his loved ones round about the end of the world. Who wouldn't ?

"Whump. Whump. Whump." Anyone seen The Haunting ? (The old version with Claire Bloom.)

This sound reminds me of what is one of the scariest low-budget special effects ever seen in a horror film. The relentlessly approaching boom of the haunted house as seen in that film.

"What are we gonna do now" was how Spike Milligan used to end his more surreal sketches in the Q series on British TV. All the actors would stop and stare at the camera and then walk towards the viewer saying "What are we gonna do now" repeatedly and the sketch would end.

Page 21

"something the beast told me ... that Adam set the Shadow Dog on it in the first place."

Do you think John's going to enlist Adam's help here ?

Gemma disappears as the Beast breaks through John's defences.

Page 22

Possessing Gemma and Chas, but not Swamp Thing, the Beast seems to have the upper hand (again).

It's been a great story for cliffhangers and tables turned.

Swampy is beheaded and "Gemma" is about to cut John's throat ... um, he's already cut his wrists and died.

All this is going to do is mess him up if he should come back from the dead.

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