Hellblazer: Highwater
by Brian Azzarello, various artists
(Vertigo, 2004)

John Constantine has faced some of the ugliest things ever to spring from Heaven or Hell. But for true ugly, read Highwater for a peek into racism and hate.

Constantine's journey across America takes him into the heart of the neo-Nazi movement. Constantine -- like the reader -- is horrified by the calm and dispassionately logical presentation of the party platform, and he tackles the matter in a brutal, suitably ironic way.

The destination is richly satisfying, with a hearty serving of just desserts, but the trip there passes through some unpleasant scenery.

And Highwater, a satisfyingly thick collection, doesn't end there. Before moving onto the second main course, writer Brian Azzarello cleanses the palate with a bit of Bingo and debauchery.

And then Constantine's American travels reach their end, when he faces the man who framed him for murder and wraps up a plotline that began in his illspent youth. This portion of the story is disturbing and unsavory, casting a whole new light on Constantine's character and stumbling to an awkward, uncomfortable end.

The concluding chapter, "Ashes & Dust in the City of Angels," puts an end to Constantine's American wanderings and caps Azzarello's dark tenure on the series.

by Tom Knapp
9 June 2007

Buy it from Amazon.com.