HellBlazer #24 HELLBLAZER #24
The Family Man
Writer : Jamie Delano
Art : Ron Tiner
Cover Artist : Kent Williams
Colours : Tom Ziuko
Letters : Tom Frame
Asst' Editor : Art Young
Editor : Karen Berger

Issue Synopsis : It's a quiet Summer afternoon in the suburbs. Helen Cherry puts on the kettle for her husband and contemplates the simple beauty of her life: her husband is kind, attentive, and a wonderful father, whilst her children are well behaved and quiet. She stirs from her contented daydreaming to make sure that the children are okay. Outside, Helen's husband Bob turns over soil in the garden. His neighbour, George, wanders up and mentions that his wife has entered Bob and his family for a television series called Happy Families. Bob says that he's flattered but before he can continue, a cloud of steam draws him to his kitchen. He turns off the kettle and laughs at his wife getting distracted by the children again. Bob goes to join in the fun, but opens the nursery door to see Helen's throat ripped open and his children sliced and bled. He can't even scream.

A few days later, Peter Lucas gets up at the crack of dawn. He sits in the kitchen, bleary-eyed and tired, getting ready for work. The daily journey from Dogthorpe to London exhausts him, but Peter knows that he must do it, for the sake of his beautiful wife and children. His train of thought is derailed, however, by a news report on the slaying of the Cherrys, whose funerals are to take place that day. Police investigating the brutal murders have linked them with other family slayings across the country, perpetrated by the so-called "Family Man". Over half an hour later, Peter is still in shock. It slowly dawns on him that he won't be going to work that day; he needs to stay close to his family.

In the former Northampton home of Jehosophat O'Flynn, John Constantine has burned up the last of the bread. It's been a week since Jerry vanished in bizarre circumstances and John's spent all that time in seclusion, eating his food and spending what little money he could find around the place. The original plan was to "borrow" and pawn a few handy items, but when John found the safe in Jerry's bedroom that plan when out of the window and he plumped for psychic safecracking instead. Using a coin on a thread to divine the combination, John opens the safe to find journals, bags of cocaine and several thousand pounds in banknotes. As John counts up the money - all ninety-five thousand pounds of it - he realises how disappointed he feels about Jerry dealing drugs. Ancient grimoires of untold power, suppressed books stolen from the Vatican, lost relics; these are the sorts of things Jerry should deal in, not something so common as mere cocaine. Just has he finishes counting up the cash, the doorbell rings.

Suspecting a police raid, John puts the money back in the safe and goes to empty the cocaine down the upstairs toilet. He finally opens the front door to find an elderly gentleman. The man asks for Jerry O'Flynn so Constantine ad libs, saying that Jerry's been called away to attend to a sick relative. The pensioner talks his way indoors and explains that he's got something to trade with Jerry. He takes an envelope from the mantlepiece and hands John a package and a calling card in return, then excuses himself to the downstairs bathroom. John looks at the calling card - H. Familiaris Esquire - then gives in to temptation and opens the envelope. Inside he finds a photograph of the Lucas family from earlier in the issue along with their address and ages. He barely has time to put it back in the envelope before the elderly man returns.

After seeing the old chap off, Constantine starts packing his bags, hoping to get out of town before the coke dealers arrive. Whilst he's packing he comes across one of Jerry's accounts ledgers in the safe and takes a gander inside. He notes that one buyer, known only as R.H., has been making most of the biggest payments and that an advert for a TV show called "Happy Families" is paperclipped to the latest page, along with a series of addresses. One of the addresses is Dogthorpe, where the Lucas family live. John becomes suspicious. He takes another book from the safe and realises that he's holding Jerry's diary. He flips it open and notices the initials R.H. again. The diary chronicles Jerry's descent into darkness as he begins buying up souvenirs of serial killers for R.H., beginning with a signed confession and progressing onto tools of torture and recordings of the victim's death screams. As the diary continues, R.H. becomes more and more obsessed, eventually demanding souvenirs from an active serial killer. Jerry, a compulsive trader, is as emotionally invested in the transactions as R.H. and makes contact with a killer known as F.M. The killer talls him that he has no use for money, and that if Jerry wants to trade with him, there's only one thing he really needs: victims.

Constantine reels at this, horrified that someone he trusted could become so twisted. Jerry's antique telephone shatters his thoughts and he goes to answer it. Synchronicity pisses on Constantine once again as the caller reveals himself to be Reed Hackett, the R.H. of Jerry's ledger. Thinking that John is Jerry, Reed asks for his parcel and names the pensioner: "Mister Homo Familiaris". Constantine finally realises that Homo Familiaris is The Family Man (you, gentle reader, will have guessed this twist pages ago, I'm sure) and that he's just supplied the killer with his latest victims. John opens the Family Man's package to find a child's drinking bottle and unscrews the lid to find his hands soaked with still-wet child's blood.

As Constantine burns Jerry's house down to the ground, Peter Lucas answers a knock at his door, to find a familiar old man waiting for him...

Issue synopsis written by James Wilkinson

[ Previous Month's Issue ]            [ Next Month's Issue ]
Something nasty in the nursery.

The Family Man...

...and his strange request.

The horrific truth.

A mysterious call.

The Family Man's trade.

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