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Heartland Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon


TBH this is a little piece that I'd never even noticed back in the day.  Whether I'd have fully appreciated it or not, I don't know but it is a powerful piece.  Billed as from the creators of Preacher, it is definitely Dillon on fine form and arguably also Ennis.  At his best when he tackles something close to his heart.

What is most surprising about it is how melodramatic it is.  I mean, it almost reads like 'Play for Today' on one level.  All the standard tropes about the alky father, long-suffering mother, divided kids ... against a backdrop of one of the more challenging periods in British history.

That is the most fascinating aspect of the piece.  I mean, a lot of us have different perspectives on the troubles.  There are those who lived it directly in the provinces and would most likely relate to some of the details of the piece ... British squaddies with SA-80's (and how that dates the piece) chatting up the lass in the chippie as they buy their supper ... talking about the Snatch-Landrover patrols as a part of everyday traffic ... knee-capping a potential drug-dealer ... 

On the other hand there are those of us who would relate to some of the comments about the emotions and responses generated by the troubles.  Being a 'legitimate target' and spending time checking for IED's ... leaving space at traffic lights (even to this day) to avoid a 9mm trepanning ... becoming so inured to these experiences that it is only when someone else comments that it becomes apparent ...

This is probably the most interesting aspect of the one-shot.  I mean, all of this is simply backdrop to a family drama.  The story could have just as easily have been set on the streets of London, Manchester or Liverpool.  The sectarianism could have been replaced by any number of prejudices.  The sheer mundanity of the core story is juxtaposed against an environment totally immersed in violence, fear and threat.

Maybe that is the point Ennis is driving at.  The tragedy of the troubles being that the sort of human drama and tragedy that wreaks such havoc on families is lost in the brutality of the conflict.  For all the political bullshit, rhetorical posturing and violence, people carry on living regardless with all the crap that entails ...

A lot to be said for this one.  Did I mention Steve Dillon's artwork?  Yes?  Good ... no, it's f***ing brilliant!

If memory serves this was a Hellblazer spin-off, not that you'd guess from the content.

Yeah, it's Kit's family isn't it? Been a while since I read it, but remember including it in my last Hellblazer read-through.


That sounds about right.  I always felt like Ennis was one of the better Hellblazer writers and got the character more than many who followed.  Constantine was a complete and utter manipulative bar-steward at the best of times but some of the Ennis tales took it to a whole new level.

I was surprised that I missed it at the time.  Then again, IIRC this was about the time I'd stepped down a bit from reading many comics so I probably wasn't paying as much attention.

I read this for the first time a couple of years ago, and yeah, it was really good.  It was a Hellblazer spin-off for sure, following Kit's life after she and Constantine had broken up, but without a speck of supernatural horror.

I thought it was a very brave move from Vertigo to publish a kitchen-sink drama set in Belfast, featuring a group of ordinary people doing ordinary things.  I would imagine Vertigo's biggest readership is American, and I remember thinking there's no possible way most readers could understand some of the dialect or even the culture here, but Ennis somehow makes it accessible.  This is the kind of thing you would once have seen on a post-9pm BBC2 slot, rather than in a comic published by DC, so again, hats off to all involved for making a success of it.


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