HELLBLAZER #187
Bred In The Bone, Part 1 of 2
Annotations By : Adrian Brown



People quick to dismiss Gemma as The Fool on the cover should remember that John is the Fool in the Vertigo Tarot deck, and his archetype in Books of Magic is also a fool. The Vertigo tarot book (written by Rachel Pollack) describes The Fool's meaning as "wildness, taking risks. A leap of faith. Resisting authority, following your own path". All of which applies equally to Gemma.

Gorgeous art. Reminds me more of Mignola's Hellboy, and would fit very well with Jock's work. Not that I am advocating a change in ongoing artist, but I'd like to see more of Doug Alexander Gregory.



Page 1

Gruinard is just off the mainland of Scotland, in Gruinard Bay, half way between Ullapool and Gairloch in the Highlands, was contaminated by government experiments with anthrax as a biological weapon and was out-of-bounds for almost 50 years from 1942.

Ghant - last seen as the magician interrogating ghosts for Fredericks in Red Sepulchre (#178).
Bentham - first appearance here?

"Bind her to sheep's head". "Blow her head off." "Broken rosary beads." I don't know about you but it seems to me like John is edging his bets here.

Shhhh ! Be vewwy quiet ! I am hunting wabbits.



Page 2

Dollis Hill is North West London
(near No Fixed Abode, Cricklewood for any Goodies fans).

Ghant, the interrogator.
A tip of the hat to Laurence Olivier's nazi dentistry from Marathon Man.
Now I know that some people think I spend ages poring over minute details in these issues, but here's one I got for free. That clock on the mantel in panel 3 is the same one we see in "Lapdogs & Englishmen" (the one where Azz wrote John in London despite swearing not to). Thanks to Doug for pointing the reference out to me.

Also, see the picture of three men in a boat behind him ?
That's a nice reference to the three of them on page 1, since they'd likely have to row across to the forbidden island in 1983 too.



Page 3

Newson had some angel bone stashed in his antique coffee grinder. Or so it seems.
Remember that Ghant was an astragalomancer (divining with bones).
He seems to be talking to someone here, and presumably called them through the bones he is casting on the bone abacus (see issue 178). In panel one Ghant says that each piece (found) makes the next one easier, which makes sense that if you only had parts of puzzle it would be less easy to solve.

"The first kill should be the last" is presumably some sort of link to the scene on the first page ?



Page 4

Paddington is a train station at the west end of the West End. It was named after the famous fictional bear who was left there with a note attached to it saying "Please look after this bear, thank you". Paddington was found by Mr and Mrs Brown (no relation). (That is no relation to me, obviously they were related to each other.)

Like any area near London's mainline train stations, there are more than a few hotels where ladies and boys of the night ply their trade. Because it pleases me to say so, I propose that Gemma is staying in one on Connaught Street (Con naught, see ?)

The police would be unlikely to turf the women out of such a hotel - although they might raid and charge anyone found in the act. In the absence of a "john" (heh heh) they'd have little reason to chuck Gemma out. Not that this would stop a PC from enacting the "Zero Tolerance" of moving potential troublemakers on to the next borough.

"My heart pumps lumpy custard" - I'd never heard this quaint figure of speech before.

Gemma "I should learn" "but I never do".
Well she said it.

On cue, it looks like Mr Ghant has come to pick up Gemma.
(Note the sheep hanging from the rear view mirror.)

BRED IN THE BONE – “Inherent; part of one’s nature. ‘What’s bred in the bone will come out in the flesh.’; a natural propensity cannot be repressed.” From “Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable” revised by Adrian Room (HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 1999, Sixteenth Edition).



Page 5

I don't think you don't tend to see bars like this in London's police stations. People usually get a cell each or they wait in more of a waiting room. Anyway, I'll have Paddington police station in my sights next week.

The stylised shade here is reminiscent of Frank Miller, but I'm not sure it works as well in colour (see link to artist's web page).

Gemma's room mate suggests she has had a lucky break from an evening on the game (ie being a prostitute in case anyone didn't realise). The juxtaposition of blow jobs and chewing gum is very droll.

Harrods is a big shop in London's swanky Knightsbridge. Owned by the father of Dodi Fayed, who was Princess Diana's boyfriend at the point of her alleged death.

"Scouse" - for anyone who came in late, that's a slang term for someone from Liverpool. It's also a kind of stew.
"Scrubbers" - women of low morals.

Like many areas of employment, there has been a boom in recent years of people coming from Eastern Europe to London, where the streets are paved with gold.

"Delilah ...": London's phoneboxes are littered with card publicising the services of ladies (and boys) of the night. They usually have an unlikely photograph culled from a glamour mag and a snappy slogan like the one that Delilah quotes.



Page 6

Gemma's synopsis of why she came to London is priceless !
"Delilah" thinks Gemma has been lured down for a life on the game.

The policewoman calls her Gemma "Constantine". There's no ID card, and although she might have been asked to give some sort of next of kin etc, the police are much too busy to chase up every false name for a minor transgression. And remember, Gemma hasn't actually done anything.

"Your bail's been posted" ie someone has paid the deposit required to release Gemma.

It looks like Delilah's given Gemma one of those cards, heh.



Page 7

Ghant "hearing" Gemma was in trouble is not just a convenient coincidence.

He was probably tipped off about Fredericks' house being brought down in the same way, ie divining with his bones. See notes for 177 - 180 for more info on this - better still get the collection of Red Sepulchre (oh, you can't yet).

The stick and the beard gives Ghant the look of Alan Moore, so it's appropriate that he's giving a "Constantine" the run around.



Page 8

Why would John put Gemma on a train at Kings Cross ?

She'd have to go via Yorkshire - ie up the wrong side of the country - and then across the Pennines. And these journeys are only offered by BR on Sundays or six hours overnight. Tourists should note that more direct trains to Liverpool go from Paddington and Euston. I suspect that John wanted to give Gemma the most hellish route to teach her a lesson. Or perhaps the old bastard sees a bit of himself and wanted to leave her the option ? By coincidence, Gemma could have got off at Bedford (see #182)

Anyway, I'm turning into a trainspotter.



Page 9

Paul and Beth.

As we will find out, there are no grown ups on the island, and Paul seems to be the senior who they look up to.

There's a recurring note in the art, a rabbit.
The earlier one was a choice by the artist to echo this one.

"The Ben" is a hill, like in Ben Nevis, the highest point in Scotland.

My rudimentary knowledge of rabbits suggests that powdered milk would not be a decent substitute for mother rabbit's milk. What does Beth mean about "the grown up smell" ? Curiouser and curiouser.

(Note clever reference to a late rabbit.)



Page 10

So, why have all these kids been left on an island which was out of bounds until 17 years ago, with only what they can kill and eat plus a few cans of provisions ?

This page has some major clues.
The giant made of leaves and vegetables is not one. That's Beth's description of The Jolly Green Giant on one of the cans, and made me think of the Wicker Man.

However, Paul refers to someone called Jane, who looked after him, probably his predecessor, who "went away". Paul begins to say "before we ..." (ate her?) That might explain the significance of the "grown up smell". When the kids become grown ups, they are ready to eat. A little bit like Logan's Run.

Page 11

Unlike the trains, the quickest way to the Western Coast of Scotland is going to be via the Eastern side of England, ie the M1. Gemma clearly "never wants to go to" Milton Keynes and Northampton.

Here's some insight into Gemma's personality. No-one can tell her she's wrong, and she won't admit it or apologise to anyone. Also, she thinks she's leading Ghant on ! (Note sheep on rear view mirror.)

I expect Ghant would not want to stop at a service station because of the CCTV.



Page 12

The approach to Gruinard Bay is via the A832 into a couple of very small coastal village, Little Gruinard or possibly Gruinard House.

There are not many place names on the island. There is the Aird nan Caorach ("Sheep Point") at the southern end and An Elidh ("The Hind") which is the peak at the centre of the island.

When Gemma says "God that's beautiful" it really is a nice set of panels. Probably the only time this issue where colourist gels with artist.

Ghant annotates Gruinard for me.



Page 13

Gemma's pseudonym is Faith - see cover notes for this issue.
Pesky american spellings ! It's "harbour".



Page 14

I'm not so keen on the blacked out faces Miller style here.

Gemma's not about take Ghant on face value, but would he be daft enough to leave that for her to look at ? "wind her back" takes on a new meaning on second reading.

Page 15

Flashback to Ghant, Bentham and Uncle John twenty years ago.
More speculation from Spot the Clue with Rip Carey.
The body is trouserless. And then burned.
The island has children with no parents.
Something is feeding when the wind blows off the mainland.

I think this the children's mother, and like her they eat humans, but "she" is getting herself pregnant by these trouserless corpses before burning them up.

I don't think we've heard of John's dead friend Carl before.



Page 16

"Write me as one who loves his fellow man" is from a poem "Abou Ben Adhem" by James Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) a poet from very close to where our author, Mr Carey, now lives.

It may be a cynical usage of the poem, which tells of Ben Adhem's elevation into the book of people who love God, by reacting to news that he is not in that book by saying that he loves his fellow man. Perhaps Ghant feels that what he is doing is for the good of others ? Doesn't seem like Ghant though, does it ?

Or I wonder if Ghant is referring to his sexuality ?

There is another subtle link here, as Leigh Hunt started a political journal that promoted the radical views of various politicians, including one Jeremy Bentham who was one of the pioneers of European Parliament as far back as the 18th century.

Page 17

The traumatic events that we have not yet seen have been too much for Bentham, but it's nice to see that the ex-policeman is still in the business of catching.

Bentham's reaction to Ghant is evidence that he's been prepared for some consequences of that night two decades ago.



Page 18

So Bentham did the burial, and the three of them did something that requires the three to reunite ?

Note that, living here in Scotland, Bentham would be close to the source of some very nice malt whiskies. But two bottles a night is overdoing it somewhat.



Page 19

My first impression when Gemma refers to the cramps is that maybe she has fallen in with a bad crowd down in Paddington. But on second reading, and comments by the inestimable Mr Funk on the Hellblazer forums, I understand that Gemma has been made to seem younger so that the children on the island will see her as one of them.



Page 20

Ghant's powers are linked to that bone abacus for sure.

Earlier there was an implication that his first killing was linked to Gruinard, I wonder just what sort of collection he started on the island ?

Check the two panels of Gemma's eyes on the last two pages.
Nice.

Page 21

Did Gemma make some sort of contact with the islanders, or has Ghant's spell given her this dream link ?

Final panel is the boat scene echoed on page 2.



Page 22

The girls know that someone is coming, and have an animal sense of smell to detect the grown-ups. Food.



Annotations By : Adrian Brown

 
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