HB4“Waiting for the Man” Written by Jamie Delano, Artist – John Ridgway

Date : I suspect this issue begins the “current day and date” timeline.

Setting: Liverpool

Originally published : Mid to late April 1988

Characters Introduced : Gemma Masters (niece), Cheryl Masters (nee Constantine) (sister), Tony Masters (brother in-law), Zed (girl friend)

Baddies : Resurrection Crusade, Damnnation Army, British Boys

In this issue we meet more of the Constantine clan.  We are introduced to Gemma Masters ( via her POV) Johns’ ten year old niece, who dislikes her parents decision to move them to Liverpool.  Her parents have set up with a fundamentalist group called the Resurrection Crusade.  She is contemplating her situation in a park alone when she meets three young children who take her to their home and promise her happiness if she marries their husband.

Meanwhile John is bouncing around using a little ‘magic’ to win at pool and fucking around with Chas (he played a nasty bet that could’ve gotten Chas beat up, but in the end he won and “magically” works a cigarette machine to spit out money as if it were a slot machine).  There is also a wonderful scene where he comes across some punks spray painting hate messages; he takes the spray paint out of their hands and sprays them in the face.  Finally he meets and ends up hooking up with Zed a blue haired (with two white streaks) graffiti artist (that we caught glimpses of in previous issues).

John seems to have brightened up since the events that killed a host of friends, he’s riding the synchronicity and getting paid doing it.  Things are looking up.

Until ….

John hears on the new about the disappearance of his niece and several other children, and takes Zed on an adventure to Liverpool.  We also meet his sister Cheryl and twit brother-in-law Tony Masters.  They have become embroiled with a prayer-pyramid scheme and Tony is completely suckered in even to the point of stating that there is a “bad spirit” in their own daughter.  He is a prat and John knows it.

John and Zed in fact save the day, in direct opposition to the God’s Warriors (The Crusades henchmen would be a good description).  Using both psychic drawing and divination they find where Gemma is and are introduced to the Damnation Army.

I like the fact that Zed has some magical ability as well.  We get the sense that magic is something that is not widely used in the general public but it is real and John isn’t the lone superhero that knows how to use it.  Granted it generally is that he is the only one that uses it for good (but albeit with horrible results sometimes).  John also is shown not to be much of a physical fighter where Zed knows how to kick ass.

This issue is a good set up for things to come moves along well enough.  The story is simple yet very dark and deals with very uncomfortable topics such as pedophilia, kidnapping and dare I say it religious fervor.  We have seen what happens to Johns’ friends when they get involved with him so we never quite know what will happen to any character we come across, so when John races to a cellar where Gemma is about to be sacrificed we really don’t know what will be in store for everyone.

and this is just the beginning.

Original thoughts : The prose is slightly heavy-handed with its calling back and forth to the narratives of John and Gemma but they do in fact work.  Gemma states on the last panel of her first scene “But when you’re a kid you just can’t win”.  The first sentence introducing John is “Sometimes you can’t lose”.  Zed quips to John as they decide to back to his place; “Christ, I don’t want to marry you.” (Marry is in bold in the comic).  It becomes a bit to blatant but again the story and the prose itself works well enough that it is something that can be glossed over.)

Current opinion : (What was I thinking?? it works brilliantly!!  The entire story is intricately balanced between John, Gemma & Zed.  We have the thoughts of children wanting to be grown ups, grown ups acting both wantonly and showing the gravity of being adults. We have Zed and Gemma both running from and into the arms of men.  We have the balance of sex, again the gravity, violence and beauty of it.  The prose is amazing and the back and forth is expertly done.  I can be an idiot sometimes.