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hellblazer #300

Hellblazer, the series of comics starring John Constantine, has run since 1988. That’s a long series, and after 300 issues, author Peter Milligan brings the franchise to an end in a finale that attempts to wrap up all strands in a tidy bow. One would think that with a character like Constantine, finding an “end” would be a difficult one – magic tends to take away death’s spell, and the inevitable end can be postponed by finding that one incantation to make all the bad disappear.

But that’s not the case in Hellblazer, and it’s also telling that Constantine as a character almost welcomes the end of life on this earth and the start of another. It all stems from a plotline begun in part one of the three-issue finale “Death and Cigarettes”; Constantine, who has seen his fate (and is also pursued by the three Fates), recognizes the end is near and then allows it to happen despite his wife Epiphany’s wishes. In this issue, after Constantine’s death, the aspect of not having him around is explored, and in a way, it’s good for nearly everyone.

That’s always been the case with Constantine, though; his own personal demons, his stubborn nature, and the fights that he takes on, have also taken their toll on those around him. Milligan focuses on this in issue 300; instead of being set within Constantine’s point of view (because he still comes back, in the afterlife), the finale chooses instead to observe his family. Epiphany doesn’t take it well at first, but she seeks comfort in Constantine’s nephew Finn. And Finn, who has nearly lost his family because of his addiction to Constantine’s magic, finds a kind soul in her as well.

But that doesn’t stop Constantine from coming back to the world. Using a special spell, he returns, and deals with a couple of loose ends before being confronted by his niece Gemma. She has been affected more than anyone by her uncle’s depredations, and the Fates have also been speaking with her. Constantine, who has known that the confrontation was due for some time, allows to happen – and he even allows her to make the choice of what she wants to do with him.

Issue 300 is an apt wrap-up, and it crams a lot of conclusions into one short issue. In that regard, it all happens fairly fast; but there’s no easy way to cut ties with such a long-running series, and Milligan does the best he can with the situation to make sure that drama is had and consequences are faced. That’s all one can really ask for in such a finale – there’s no thrilling climax here, and this final issue is mostly just exposition, but the confrontations that do happen end the trail the Hellblazer has blazed. And even if it’s not as cathartic as some loyal readers would hope for, at least it ends reasonably and with a sense of dignity a comic of this length has earned over the years.

Hellblazer #300 hits shelves today.