Ward 24
Annotations By :
Adrian Brown

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Cover : What can I say about this cover ? Littered with errors… No wait ! John McMahon and Adrian Brown enter the Hellblazer mythology by being included as aliases of JC.

(Hurrah for Tim Bradstreet, say I.)

John Collier was the name John used when checking into the hotel. Appearing on this datasheet would suggest he’s used it before.

Oh, and you see those jelly babies on the cover ? I ate them.
The reason Tim saw fit to commemorate us in this way was because of help with reference for this cover. I went round to the corner shop and bought some Jelly Babies.

Note that, just off the border of the page you can see “of a heart on his left arm” which could also have said “of a tree on his (right?) buttock”.

The medical notes – Transmitted by email (you can just make out “From: Tim B”

The DHSS number is in fact a National Insurance number. The NHS number is not the right format (I did that sort of thing as part of my job for four years). The supervising doctor is Roger Huntoon as seen in Swamp Thing and in a post-Newcastle Hellblazer story and Ravenscar has featured before – it’s near Whitby in Yorkshire.

Page 1

Leonardo Manco, WELCOME ABOARD !

Erm, those toilets don’t look like that inside – there’s barely room for one person standing.

“Killing someone with a gun, that’s like shagging someone with a rubber on.”

A great introduction to the serial killer, Gill.

Page 2

Gill knows a lot about his victim, more than he should ?

At this stage we do not know what links these two men.

Page 3

This was the first preview page I saw of Manco’s work.

The cityscape behind John is near where I live, which is why I have always had a downer on poor depictions of London. This one is almost photoreal.

The scenes of chaos continue from the rampage of people under the control of the Beast With No Name. John does not know what he is doing here, or who he is.

Page 4

For the purposes of this story, this is the Grand Union Canal just north of Paddington – aka Little Venice. The owls are not what they seem. The Jelly Babies which should be Bassett’s appear to be “Bissell’s” but I prefer to think that it reads “Bissettes”.

“You’ve got blood on you.” Remember that John had cut his wrists to contact the Beast and his throat was about to be cut with a razor.

Page 5

“I like the red ones best.” Considering what we will find out, that’s sweet.

“What’s your name?” “It’s sort of a secret.”

The first indication that even though he’s lost his memory, the underlying crafty Constantine is intact.

“I think you’re using the wrong bait.” “I don’t,” Rose says as she takes John’s hand.

Page 6

The sign that says “London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea” is a double faux pas.

(What can I say ? I tried !)

The correct name is “The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea”.

And this is “Praed Street Hospital” aka St Mary’s, which is in Westminster.

And the nurses’ uniforms are blue … did I tell you I do a weekly liaison session there ?

Look at that waiting room ! We’ve not had that level of detail in Hellblazer for some time. Marcelo Frusin’s best work being quite stylised. It’s not a bad representation of what a crisis management in A&E would look like.

Actually, St Mary’s has seen such activity after the Paddington Rail Crash.

Page 7

“My name’s Leo Sumner”.

Of course, Constantine’s likeness was based on Sting, whose real name is Gordon Sumner.

Leo, after Leonardo Manco, I hope.

Note that Gill (for it is he) makes some connection here.

And you can see him sat in the waiting room on the previous page.

Page 8

Now if it didn’t say “Praed Street Hospital, London Borough of Kensington & Chelsea” on that form, I would have justified the error mentioned above by saying that crisis plans would have some casualties moved to Chelsea & Westminster Hospital (although that is much more modern than St Mary’s) but it can’t be done.

Standard UK/US spelling gripe here. The triage form would say “aetiology”, also that category and “medication” would come after presenting factors.

Gill’s special knowledge is revealed even more.

Page 9

Someone presenting with John’s condition would usually be interviewed in one of the minor cubicles, but remember the hospital is overcrowded with casualties.

The statue of Little Nemo on the desk was an addition by the artist. It hints that the psychiatrist might have Jungian leanings, but it’s also nicely linked to the fact that most people in the world are waking from a dream they don’t quite remember. What Leo Manco may not know is that Mike Carey wrote a Little Nemo story for a charity comic called Just 1 Page: Heroes.

The short stories of Winsor McKay would end with Nemo waking with a start and often falling out of bed. McKay was one of the pioneers of comics, and has directly influenced many greats, including Rick Veitch’s “Rare Bit Fiends” (named after characters that Nemo would see when he had nightmares).

Page 10

The idea of a psychiatrist keeping someone for observation because they sense a case they are interested in is not so unlikely. In the circumstances – evidence of suicide attempt – they would be justified in keeping John under the Mental Health Act.

Someone has questioned the use of amnesia, because they felt it’s not that common.

Well, other than the fact that there are many cases of trauma victims experiencing it in the short term, this is not a medical incident, but he’s had his memory wiped by the Beast.

Page 11

This operating room would be in demand on a day like this, but the small cubicles just don’t look as impressive, do they ?

It occurs to me that the burns on Rose’s arm suggests she might be Astra.

“Where was the fire?”
“In here, where’s yours ?”

The owls are not what they seem.

Page 12

Oooh, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest !

Victorian Mental Asylums are still available, but not in central London, where beds tend to be in single rooms. And patients tend to be dressed in their own clothes.

Gill explains his interest in John. The name he chose was the chap we saw Gill dealing with on page 1.

Page 13

Gill has been connected to everyone because of the Beast's actions in the previous story arc.

John was not connected to that collective mind, although everyone else was.

Page 14

I love that picture on the wall above “John’s” bed of the nurse shushing the ward.

Every psychi ward should have one !

Page 15

“Saving the world, one porn site at a time?”

True story, someone was fired from a hospital for surfing porn sites on night duty, ALL NIGHT.

These files on John might well be available to NHS forensic staff. And of course, several of his enemies might find that information useful ! But let’s face it, his most powerful enemies have magic knowledge gathering methods.

“Wanted for questioning, do not approach”. “years ago” could be many occasions.
“Punk Rock lyrics” could have found the straight to hell site !
“Did time for murder in the states” “He’s dead” these are related to Hard Time and Brian Azzarello’s stories of course.

Page 16

Okay, now John’s amnesia can be cured …

but not if Rose has anything to do with it.

Page 17 & 18

Post traumatic stress therapy may well involve such regression hypnosis, but it would not be likely to be so soon. John’s memory only goes back to this morning.

Dr Bradshaw might think the trauma is linked to something specific rather than just who John Constantine is.

Page 19


Now, if you could not remember who you were and all these images came to you at the mention of your name, you’d tend to keep quiet !

So, how is this for the Constantine team photo ?

Line up courtesy of James .

Angel with sword: Gabriel, from Ennis' run.

Bearded man: Jacko the ghost tramp from Gaiman's issue.

Girl with one arm and black eyes: "Astra" from Rake at the Gates of Hell

Monkey in a wig: Slag from Delano's single-issue story "Another Part of Hell". Queenie was her owner.

Demon with long tongue: Nergal from Delano's storyline (also a pre-existing DCU demon !)

Leafy creature: Jack Of The Green, an Earth elemental representing England's green and pleasant land. Or what's left of it. Unlike the rest, he wasn't really an enemy; just a pain in the arse.

Four-headed monster: Ironfist the Avenger from Delano's issue "Extreme Prejudice" (Hooligans merged into one self-hating being.)

Constantine with red eyes: Demon Constantine from Jenkins' run.

Page 20

Rose prevents Bradshaw from revealing John’s memories. Although, as she points out, he doesn’t have any memories to recover. Or does he?

Page 21

John’s “safe place” looks like being a childhood memory. So, when the Beast erased John’s memory of who he is, it was not everything, but his knowledge earned over the years.

There’s a copy of an Aleister Crowley book on the bed – perhaps John’s first contact with magic?

In other words, the last time and place that he felt safe was before he started dabbling. There doesn’t seem to be a book by Crowley called “Gargoyle”.

I’d say the poster behind him is a Liverpool player, possibly Steve Hunt. This and the DULUX advert dates it as being around the time John was in his twenties. More likely he’d have been around thirteen years old in this picture ? and would have had a picture of Roger Hunt.

Page 22

Rose has framed John for the murder.

As she points out he’s in for psychiatric assessment, and that should be Broadmoor, which is the UK’s most infamous secure unit – home Cockney Ganglord Ronnie Kray, Moors Murderer Ian Brady, The Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, Fred West (insert tabloid nickname here)

“Scrubs” is Wormwood Scrubs, a prison near to the hospital in question.

John would have taken this stuff for granted before, but it’s all new to him at the moment.

He decides to leave London.

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