HellBlazer #25 HELLBLAZER #25
Early Warning
Writer : Grant Morrison
Art : David Lloyd
Cover Artist : David Lloyd
Colours : David Lloyd
Letters : Tom Frame
Asst' Editor : Art Young
Editor : Karen Berger


Solicitation Text : Constantine gets overly involved in a pagan celebration that gets out of control, courtesy of Grant Morrison and David Lloyd.

Issue Synopsis : (Though unconnected to The Family Man storyline, the following three issues take place in a three month period between issues 24 and 28.)

It's grim up North, but that's not putting Constantine off; he's hitching to Thursdyke, a smallish country town close to an underground military installation. He makes his way up to an old, abandoned mineshaft where he meets a pretty young female photographer named Una. She and John have something of a history together, having met whilst they were both incarcerated at Ravenscar mental asylum. Una's the one who invited John to Thursdyke knowing that he'd be interested in its upcoming Festival of Masks, an old pagan celebration that's being revived by its citizens. Una herself is down there on her magazine's expense, since they plan to do an article on Thursdyke's festivities. She and John trade small talk (she's on medication for schizophrenia; he's out of cigarettes) then head down to the town itself.

Down a country lane, shepherd John Goss is walking with his two sheepdogs when a barely-felt vibration passes through the ground under his feet, pulsing up around his body and into the trees, whose feathered occupants rise at once into the grey, opressive sky. He recalls an old wives' tale: "if all the crows in a wood forsake it suddenly, it is surely a warning of disaster..."

In one of Thursdyke's pubs, John and Una play a game of snooker with one of the locals. Una explains that Thursdyke virtually died when the Government closed the coal pits, and that the community is looking to the festival as a way to prove that they're alive - to both the world and themselves. Their conversation is interrupted by an argument across the pub, as one of the locals working at the nearby military base starts harrassing an anti-nuclear weapon protester. The protester complains that the base just makes the town a target, but the local says that all he cares about is having a job and enough money to feed his family. At the bar, John Goss turns to Arthur, a local police officer, and asks whether he should intervene. Arthur declines, saying that he's off work 'till four and anyway, he has a seven-month old baby to think about now. Across the bar, two old women discuss the nasty effects of radiation as reported by reknowned scientific journal Woman's Own; one of them points out that the scientists at the base could be doing anything right now, and the townspeople wouldn't know: "God only knows what's going on under our noses".

Ironic segue to the underground base, where Professor Horrobin and Doctor Poole drive down an enormous iron corridor. Horrobin waxes poetic as he speaks of the myth of Arthur, the buried king who will awake when Britain needs him. He thinks that the myths are actually metaphors for the untapped potential within all men, and his experiements aim to wake those lost kings and hidden giants. His work is, he says, almost occult.

John and Una approach Thursdyke's church to meet Parson Godfrey Bayliss, an ex-RAF pilot and anti-nuclear activist. John stops for a cig, but freaks out when he sees a 19th century hansom cab approaching. He turns to get a better look, but by then it's turned into a white van. John asks Una if she's sure she can't use her psychic abilities to pick up anything unusual, but she explains that her tablets interfere with her supernatural talents. They enter the church and meet Bayliss, a dour chap who says that he doesn't approve of reviving pagan celebrations, but is secretly in favour of anything that can reunite the community. Whilst Una goes off to take photographs of the church, Bayliss confides in Constantine that Thursdyke has "sold its soul" by providing workers for the military base. His mood darkens as he mentions strange tremors underground, and odd vibrations in the church bells. Something beneath the soil is reaching up to Thursdyke. Meanwhile, Una takes a snap of a statue by a pond, and recoils in horror when she sees the reflection of some dark, winged beast on the church steeple. She darts her eyes up, but sees only a few crows flapping lazily away from the weathervane.

Night-time in Thursdyke. A drum signals the coming of the crowd, a river of bodies with grotesque over-sized heads, carrying lanterns decorated with images of death; skeletons, nuclear explosions, devils... John awakes with a start as a sudden terrible note rings out from deep beneath the Earth, reverberating through foundations, windows and walls, shaking the minds of men.

In the church, Pastor Bayliss is pleading to God for a sign that He has not truly forsaken Thursdyke. A stained-glass window shatters inwards, slitting up his face. Elated, Bayliss sees himself filled with holy light. He turns to the doors as they open, showing the anti-nuke protesters with new signs declaring that The Lord Is Thy Bomb.

And across Thursdyke the note ripples outwards in ever increasing circles, leaving those it touches obssessed, psychotic: fathers rape daughters, young men grin with delight as they are castrated, masked devils smash open the windows of a child's bedroom and climb in... and the note plays on.

Deep in the military base, Professor Horrobin smiles as he boasts about his first successful test; he's released a series of microwave transmissions into Thursdyke set to resonate with the frequency of the human brain, letting loose the buried monsters in the human psyche.

Arthur, the police constable from the pub, finishes clubbing his wife to death. Wearing a baby mask, he barks angrily that it's her own fault for loving their child more than him. Then he takes a pair of scissors, walks to his son's crib, and ever so calmly begins cutting off the baby's fingers. Meanwhile, John Goss puts down his fork, places his dogs' eyes on the kitchen table and steps out into the night.

And all through Thursdyke the procession of murder and lust continues as John Constantine, glassy-eyed, puts on his Margaret Thatcher mask and goes to join in the fun.

Issue synopsis written by James Wilkinson


[ Previous Month's Issue ]            [ Next Month's Issue ]
Una exposits.

Parson Bayliss philosophises.

A dark omen.

The insanity rises...

...and the citizens are transformed.

Indeed.

John goes out to play.


 
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