HELLBLAZER #11
Newcastle : A Taste Of Things To Come
Annotations By : Adrian Brown



Page 1

John returns to the site of his defining catastrophe - The Casanova Club, Newcastle.

The factory in panel 1 says "Tyne-Tees SS Co. Ltd." this is "Steam Shipping Company" and really existed as part of Newcastle's industrial heritage.

The rivers Tyne and Tees give the area on the North East coast its name, Newcastle stands on the Tyne.

John refers to the legendary elephants' graveyard. And he stands in a scrapyard.

"Wae-aye, Mon ?" is accepted Geordie slang for "How do you do, sir ?"
(Geordie is the regional term for someone from Newcastle.)

The idea of there being a bombing in Newcastle since the events of 1978 is most likely a gangland thing.
I suggest you watch the proper Get Carter starring Michael Caine.

"Blind eyes stare from the shattered metal corpses. Oiled black ground sucks at my feet and puddles swirl, slicked with lurid rainbow light." That's your Jamie Delano lyrical writing right there.

Mark "Bucky" Buckingham and Richard Piers Rayner give us the perfect Constantine in the last panel on this page.



Page 2

The dolls arm is a nice bit of pre-staging for the story.

Of course, John is entitled to be freaked out by it, but he remains cool.

The sign that is partly visible is part of the licensee sign that appears over the door of all licensed premises. You can see what it says in full on page 3 in the second panel.

And here's the Newcastle Crew

Frank North - biker from California
Judith - the tantric yoga teacher (a reference to Sting, I wonder)
Anne-Marie - the psychic with a crush on John who later turned to Jesus Christ ("he even has the same initials!")
Ritchie Simpson - about whom we will find out more later via the internet
Gary Lester - as seen in the Mnemnoth story and a co-founder of Mucous Membrane
Benjamin Cox - 12 year old genius
And John.

The tune playing on Judith's "ghetto blaster" is David Bowie's "Heroes".



Page 3

Newcastle is a northern industrial city. It's fair to say that after the death of many of the industries (mining, shipping) at the hands of Thatcherism, the city has only recently seen regeneration.

Note that Mucous Membrane made their debut here. It is not the Fillmore...

John's dismissive nature of Gaz's comments about the band being New Wave is quite telling. He's obviously more interested in being at the centre of attention.

The graffiti on the door is time sensitive.

Newcastle United fans ("Mags") writing about their deadly local rivals (Sunderland). Bill McGarry was the manager of Newcastle who had just taken the team down from the top division - he actually stayed at the club for another couple of years. Peter Withe was their Scouse centre forward who had just signed for Newcastle, and scored against Sunderland on 14th October, so, if my guess that this is 31st October is correct, this graffiti is quite fresh !

"Boro Boot Boys" refers to the other local team, Middlesbrough.

As the door swings open you can see an old club poster for Cyanide.

In panel five Frank does not seem so keen on the Bells Whisky he's swiped and swigged.

There's a reference to another of John's occult contacts, Ray Monde.

Obviously Alex Logue is scum. John implies there's something unhealthy about Logue's relationship with his daughter Astra.



Pages 4 & 5

John's memory of the abattoir is very much like my own, but you don't see that stuff out in the open these days. I know someone who worked in an abattoir accidentally shot his own hand with the bolt gun they use to slaughter the cattle. Ouch !



Page 6

Astra says "Don't touch me ! I won't do it any more, I don't like it !" - she's obviously disturbed by what she's seen as well as what her father did to her.



Page 7

Ahh, the charming DC method of naming demons (who can forget "Baytor" ?). I'd say "Norfulthing" is Astra's version of "an awful thing" don't you think ?

Isn't enough that she's had to suffer the abuse ?



Page 8

So, the Norfulthing came to help Astra, at least that's her interpretation.



Page 9

It seems that the creature did latch on to Astra's fear.

Early days for John. He's started getting all his gear together and he's still quite naive about "fighting fire with fire".

The Grimorium Verum ("The True Grimoire") is one of those magician's cook books.



Page 10

Ben gets sodomised by the Norfulthing. A creatured summoned in sexual circumstances obviously latching on to some of those drives.



Page 11

Frank says he exorcised his demons at Khe Sanh - in Vietnam.

Anne-Marie is clearly besotted with John as her expression in panel 5 shows. If only she knew what we now know. And he's somewhat more interested in Judith's, um, tantric skills. At a time like this !



Page 12

And when she asks "This really turns you on, doesn't it ?" John confirms why he's got into magic. "Nothing can go wrong" - famous last words, anyone ?



Page 13

Numerology suggests we should beware of the spell described on this page.

When the spell goes wrong, I am reminded of Ash's incantation in Evil Dead: Army of Darkness. "Klaatu, varada, Ni-hhrrrmmmmff!"



Page 14

According to the aforementioned Grimoire, Sagatana is one of Astaroth's inferiors, and has a symbol.

John's really bullshitting here.



Page 15

He did call someone though, and that someone uses Anne Marie's affection for John to break her protective spell. She jumps from the window to the demonic faux-Constantine's "get thee to a nunnery" which is a quote from Shakespeare's "Hamlet" when the title character advises Ophelia to take a life of celibacy. Anne Marie does end up in a convent, as I think we will have seen in Swamp Thing.



Pages 16 & 17

Note that John really loses it when Astra appears, but he attempts to protect himself and those within the circle rather than save Astra. It's just occurred to me that Norfulthing is a dog. Not necessarily a shadow dog it is true.



Page 18

The scenes of Astra playing with Norfulthing almost suggest that she might have known what she was doing, and might have called it to save herself



Pages 19 & 20

John realises that the demon he called was in Astra - in compliance with the spell John cast.

Now, call me a traditionalist, but that grotesque depiction of a demon works well for me in films, animated by Screaming Mad George or Brian Yuzna, but on the comic page it doesn't quite hit the spot. Still, John's scared enough.



Page 21

And here we are again with evidence that John is not the callous bastard that some people would have it. Realising he's messed it up, he offers himself to save Astra. But then he gets his first glimpse of Hell ...



Pages 22 & 23

and while his accomplices attempt to burn the house down (not a bomb as described on page one, but there'd have to be a cover up) he tries to rescue Astra one last time. And John is driven mad for a time.



Page 24

There are John's ghosts, picked off one by one as the demon said they would be. But that's another story.



Annotations By : Adrian Brown

Read issue synopsis.
 
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