HELLBLAZER #3
Going For It
Annotations By : Adrian Brown



Page 1

There is a strange emphasis on certain phrases on this page.

Some are contemporary buzzwords, such as "in the spread", "slashed his rating" and "fear of failure", but other words don't seem to require stress.

"in the spread" suggests spread betting, where the gambler aims to be within a stated range (of a score for example). With high finance being such an unscientific gambling game, he'd want to be "in the spread" and in profit. "The city" being the financial district of London (aka The Square Mile).

"Gucci tab" - the YUPPIE boom of the Eighties was characterised by the desire for expensive designer labels.

Gucci leather goods esp. shoes were quite desirable. Guccio Gucci had founded the company in the Twenties.

"peasants" use of this archaic term (in UK context) was common among the upwardly covetous.

Jaguar - a once-great British car manufacturer, the Jag had been the smart car of choice for those who did not want the pretentious Rolls Royce or the penis extension of the Aston Martin.

"Mammon Investments" St Jerome wrote 'Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.' Riches, that is; for in the heathen tongue of the Syrians riches are called Mammon." But Mammon was commonly regarded as a deity in the Middle Ages. Mammon is material wealth - the god of the Eighties.



Pages 2 & 3

The drive of avarice and pride through the heart of the Yuppie movement meant that vacuous sycophancy such as "looking good" was quite common. Once again, there are the buzz-words "high octane", "try for the burn" and "rat race".

"High octane" - Fuels with high octane numbers burn smoothly and efficiently in high performance engines. We see the metaphor of a business as an engine and the employees as high performance.

Note from panels 2 and 3 that Roger is wearing Adidas trainers and Nike tracksuit.

"Let's try for the burn" is a key phrase in fitness fads like the jogging boom of this issue's contemporary setting.

It is the burn of over-exertion - qv "no pain no gain"



Page 4

The poster advertises the coming election around which this issue is set.

The result is now a matter of history, but I shall not mention it here so as not to commit a "spoiler".

You can find out more here but I suggest you re-read the issue first.

Note that the newspaper (The Daily Star) has a typical anti-Labour headline. The left wing of that party are now sadly dispersed by the work of Mrs Thatcher's spiritual descendent, Tony Blair.



Page 5

Observe ! John Constantine in civvies ! NO TRENCHCOAT !

"Inner London" is a bit of an odd term, presumably used here to help out our American cousins.

It usually refers to the area between Hyde Park, Regents Park, the East End and Lambeth.

Recent stats suggest that around 50% of the area's children live below the UK poverty line

It is suggested that John is on his way to Spitalfields (see notes on issue #181), and that might be in keeping with the London scenes shown, but the burnt out house seems a bit excessive even for 1987.

There certainly was more despair around these sort of areas in 1987, as the Government sought re-election on giving money back to those who had it (as the poster on page 4 suggested) and a "return to Victorian Values". ie moralistic hard-line policing. Social and health care for those who could not afford it was the main victim. The area is prime redevelopment area now, with the equivalent of Yuppies now being more community-minded artists.



Page 6

Ray Monde's shop, Serendipity. You know, I often wondered if his name was a typo by the letterer that they kept in. Raymonde is such a delightfully camp name - and Ray Monde seems less so. It's intriguing that in those days, John went around touting for work, whereas nowadays work inevitably finds him.

The headlines that Ray quotes outline deaths that are associated with the Yuppie lifestyle.

Hard to believe that there was a time when Guacamole and designer trainers were unusual.

"Pulling my wire" = pulling my leg - making fun of me, leading me on.

Ray responds in panel five with a fine double entendre.

There is a similar turn of phrase "you're pulling my plonker".



Page 7

This page reminds us that there was a time when DC demons were rather more scatalogical (see also Garth Ennis's Demon series). "Lord of Flatulence" indeed !

The language used on this page is totally lifted from the financial patois of the day.

I suggest you check out Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" to familiarise yourself if you are too young to remember.



Page 8

"Yuppies are moving into the old, run-down areas and making them fashionable."

It seems to me that this process has gone full circle. In the Eighties, money-minded folks took on a lot of property and made it trendy, but now the main purchasers (especially in London) are landlords wishing to make themselves a nice earner and ongoing income. Since the mid-Eighties, house prices have gone insane.



Page 9

"Tears of Atlantis Re-Awaken the Desiccated Souls of Hiroshima" sounds like a record that might have appeared on the 4AD label. There was a trend for "ambient" recordings such as this. Whale songs were particularly popular.

Rod Bubo-Ganglia and Bella Donna - more comedy demon names.

Bubo and ganglia are terms that can be found in sexual health and HIV manuals.

They have chosen this downwardly mobile to live because of it's proximity to poverty and desperation.



Page 10

"trepanned with a dentist's drill" - the ancient practice of boring a hole in the skull to let out evil spirits or cure illness.

"The Pits" a trendy wine bar. There are now plenty of these in the Spitalfields area.

Back in the time that this story is set, the top politico-comedian, Alexei Sayle recorded a folk song called "The Wine Bars of Old Hampstead Town" wherein could be found the lines "Why do they call them wine bars? Because they're full of people whining."



Page 11

Once again, the finance & business jargon is used in a slightly less metaphorical context.



Pages 12 & 13

It's ironic to read one of the Yuppie-demons saying "things can only get better if the Tories win a third term" because ten years later, the Labour party adopted a pop tune of that name to accompany their election campaign.

John has not realised just who he's dealing with here. Thinking that the people in the club are just Yuppies.

Rod and Bella are at it again. Calling in the forfeits from the Faustian deals.

Note Bella's filofax. In those days, like the now ubiquitous mobile phone, these were Yuppie ephemera.



Page 14

John smells the Brimstone - commonly associated with magic rituals and the like - which is actually sulphur and you often smell it when opening a boiled egg. Or when the tide is out in a harbour and the anaerobic bacteria have been at play.

"Demon-Yuppie Soulbrokers from Hell" is not such a wild metaphor.

Ironic how John did not have time to vote, and yet he did his bit ...



Page 15

"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take any more" is a quote from Peter Finch's character in the excellent film Network (1976). A newsreader loses his will to live, decides to kill himself on air, and then realises that the attention this grabs him has given him a voice and the desire to urge people to get out of their TV-induced torpor.

Fans of the recent magic that John has been performing will note that this was always part of his repertoire, as he summons Blathoxi.



Page 16

John needs a tie, but he's only got an amulet. A crafty spell does the trick as it turns into a tie.



Page 17

The head villain holding court in a sauna is a staple of the old sixties London mob films.

Blathoxi fits that bill quite well. A sauna in Hell, no less.

John offers to sell his soul ! Back in those days, demons would not be so aware of John's reputation in duping folks with this.



Page 18

John's double bluff is that he has some insider knowledge of the coming election.

Spreading the rumour that the Labour party will win (sadly not true) has a knock on effect on the market.

You know, I often think of the Stock Market as gambling with people's livelihoods.



Page 19

John picks up the sword preparing to fight off the demons that have invaded his place.

Threatening them with "The Mark of Zorro" from the old movie serials with Douglas Fairbanks or the more recent Zorro the Gay Blade - the Catherine Zeta Jones & Antonio Banderas version was well after this story.



Page 20

John is in the real Hell of a Tory third term. Maggie Thatcher's speech suggests that her Government will allow the strong to flourish to look after the "sick and the disadvantaged" - bah!



Page 21

The TV reporter is the great Sir Robin Day, who was known to give dodgy MPs a hard time in his interviews. He's wearing a bow tie, which was sort of a trademark for him.

The initial reports of the 1987 election - exit polls and the first results showed a further lurch to the right, but in fact, there were more Labour voters, as voter apathy was turned around in a socialist backlash against Thatcherism.

GREAT BRITAIN General Elections

1983

No. of votes

% of electorate

Conservative

13,012,316

43.51

Labour

8,456,934

28.28

Alliance

7,780,949

26.02

Others

656,013

2.19

1987

 

 

Conservative

13,760,935

43.27

Labour

10,029,270

31.54

Alliance

7,341,651

23.09

Others

668,196

2.10

1992

 

 

Conservative

14,048,399

42.79

Labour

11,560,484

35.21

Liberal Democrat

5,999,384

18.27

Others

1,220,714

3.72



Pages 22 & 23

John's plan comes home ! He managed to panic the soul market in Hell. Such unfounded rumours often set off falls in share prices. For a basic primer on these matters, I suggest you watch Dan Ayckroyd and Eddie Murphy's Trading Places.

Even though John was bluffing, Blathoxi has to pull his Mammon Investments out of the UK.



Page 24

PAGE TWENTY FOUR !

Those were the days.

Well, John's won, but what a torturous ending for him! Suspended upside down, tied up in front of a TV showing gloating Maggie Thatcher !



Annotations By : Adrian Brown
 
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