HellBlazer #11 HELLBLAZER #11
Newcastle: A Taste of Things To Come
Writer : Jamie Delano
Art : Richard Piers Rayner
Art : Mark Buckingham
Cover Artist : Dave McKean
Colours : Lovern Kindzierski
Letters : Todd Klein
Asst' Editor : Art Young
Editor : Karen Berger


Issue Synopsis : A cold drizzle falls down on John Constantine as he trudges through the grey streets of Newcastle. Finally, he stops at a junkyard which a sign proclaims to be "CASANOVA CAR BREAKERS". The owner arrives and tells John that the ground he's stood on used to be the infamous Casanova Club. John tells him that he wants to take a look around, and wanders off down the rows of rusted cars. As he recalls the halcyon days of the late 70s, John happens across the arm of a child's doll, and he begins to recall the terrible events that took place here...

It's Newcastle 1978 and the gang's all here - Mucous Membrane, the ultimate z-list punk/new wave band have arrived at Newcastle's shady Casanova Club for a little bit of supernatural investigation. There's Frank North, tough-guy Californian hiding a shotgun in his sports bag; Judith, who's into tantric yoga and David Bowie; Anne-Marie, the fat forty-year-old with a secret crush on John; Richie Simpson, quantum mage and computer whizz; Gary Lester, musician and conjurer; Ben Cox, twelve-year-old child prodigy and demon expert; and finally our John, lead singer and occult dabbler.

It turns out that The Casanova Club was the first place Membrane ever played. A dive run by a dodgy sex magician Alex Logue, the Club was reputed to be host to seedy drug-fuelled magical orgies - so when Ray Monde told John about bad psychic energy in Newcastle, The Casanova Club was the most obvious place to look. Frank kicks the doors open and the crew are immediately hit by a rotten stench. Anne-Marie uses her psychic powers of stating the obvious and says that something horrible has occurred there, whilst Ben Cox finds a cellar door which seems to have something behind it. The gang follow the stink of rot down into the cellar, but it's not until their eyes become adjusted to the dark that they see its source. Across altars, carvings and pentagrams lie the remains of Alex Logue and his friends, reduced to shattered ribs, rubbery puddles of flesh, bloodied stumps and severed heads. The group stare in horrified fascination for only a second before piercing screams and the sound of tearing flesh alerts them to a massacre above.

The group rush back into the club, but rather than the bloodshed they expected, they find Alex Logue's 11-year-old daughter dancing to the recorded sound of her father's death. As Richie goes to turn off the speakers, Anne-Marie and Judith try to talk to the girl, whose name is Astra. Anne-Marie lays a hand on Astra's shoulder, causing the girl to scream in terror. John and Gary talk her down and ask where her father is, but the girl - half crazed through shock - can only tell them that "Norfulthing got him". Against the advice of Anne-Marie, John puts Astra under hypnosis and almost immediately she tells him that ever since her mother had some kind of accident, Alex Logue has been forcing her to take part in the orgies down in his cellar. Astra says that despite her protests, her father kept abusing her until she finally snapped and called up Norfulthing, an imaginary monster that proceeded to rape and devour the people at the orgy. Astra begins to panic again as she recalls Norfulthing's attack, and John sends her into a deep sleep.

Frank loads his shotgun and suggests that they shoot Norfulthing and burn the club, but John says that the only way to tackle the creature is by raising another demon to fight it. The team argue about this new plan until they hear Ben screaming from the cellar. John, Richie and Frank run down to help, only to find Norfulthing raping the boy. Frank unloads both barrels of his shotgun into Norfulthing, frightening but not killing it. As it flees, John and Richie drag Ben up the stairs to safety. Ben, now speaking with the stutter that will stay with him for the rest of his life, tells John that he'd gone into the cellar to get some photographs of the creature and its victims. John decides to go ahead and raise the demon, but again the gang is split down the middle. Judith and Gary agree, whilst Frank, Richie and Anne-Marie decline. John sends Richie out to the Mucous Membrane van to get some vodka for Ben, tells Anne-Marie to look after the sleeping Astra and asks Frank to wait outside with a gas tank full of petrol, telling him to burn the place down if they don't make it out.

With the various cups, candles and other accoutrements set up, John, Judith and Gary begin the ritual. John bleeds into a cup as he commands the presence of the demon Sagatana. The chanting reaches a climax as John burns a holy parchment and...

Nothing. Judith and Gary laugh at John's overconfidence and he tries again, commanding Sagatana to appear or face eternal pain. Still nothing. As John tries yet again, Anne-Marie finds herself confronted by a vision of a naked, glowing Constantine who beckons her onward. Spellbound, she crawls out of her protective magic circle and begins to caress his body, only for it to twist and mutate under her hands, squirting corrosive acid onto her face. Quoting Hamlet, he commands her to flee to a nunnery as, blinded and screaming, she runs straight through a plate glass window.

Constantine's final attempt to call up the demon is interrupted by Astra, who walks down into the cellar and starts to call forth Norfulthing. Gary goes to stop her, but John holds him back, telling him not to break the magic circle. The team watch powerlessly as Norfulthing rises out of the floor and begins to bound towards Astra. Just as the monster reaches her, however, Astra's eyes glow red and she rips its head right off. John guesses that the demon has possessed Astra and commands the demon out of her body, but it tells him that it is not under his command. Still, it agrees to leave the girl and, as it pours itself out of Astra's mouth, Gary panics and flees, breaking the magic circle. John commands Judith to run too as the monster takes on its true form - that of the demon Nergal!

Nergal tells John that he has no power over it - John called up the wrong demon, and as he only has the wrong name (Sagatana), he cannot command it to do anything. Nergal refuses to tell John his name, and says that as he did John's bidding anyway, he is allowed to claim his fee - and he has chosen the soul of an innocent child. John begs the demon to take him instead, but it refuses. However, it does offer him the chance to accompany her into the mouth of Hell. John takes Astra by the hand and leads her down, but the horrors of Hell are too much for him, and he decides to try one last trick - he pulls out the blasting wand from the summoning ceremony, but as he intones the words that might free them, Nergal transforms the wand into a snake. John grabs Astra by the arm and makes a break for freedom, but as he gets closer to the mouth of Hell it begins to shut. Constantine makes it out of the doorway just as Frank's petrol bomb sets the Casanova Club ablaze.

Crazed and ranting, John cries that they should make him "a bloody saint" for freeing Astra - only then does he realise that the jaws of Hell snapped shut on the little girl, and only her arm made it out with him. Frank snatches the arm from Constantine and tosses it into the inferno as Nergal's voice calls out from the blaze and tells them that what they have seen is only a taste of things to come...

Newcastle, 1988. Back at the Casanova Car Breakers yard, Constantine reflects that he's the only member of the Newcastle Crew still alive. As he thinks about the lives and deaths of the people there that day, he lights up a cigarette and swears that he will have his revenge.

Issue synopsis written by James Wilkinson

[ Previous Month's Issue ]            [ Next Month's Issue ]
One for the Donnie Darko fans.

An orgy of destruction. Literally.

Astra remembers her abuse.

Ben is raped by Norfulthing.

Luckily, Frank is around to save him.

The acid house: Anne-Marie becomes Nergal's first victim.

"Don't fancy yours much". Nergal's true form.

John and Astra try to flee the jaws of Hell.

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