Review: Heavenly Blues #6
“The World was all before them, where to choose/Their place of rest, and Providence their guide/They hand in hand with wandering steps and slow/Through Eden took their solitary way.”- John Milton from Paradise Lost XII.646-9
Heavenly Blues #6 is an all action and bisexual friendly making out sequence-filled conclusion to Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo‘s Ocean’s 11 meets Mike Carey’s run on Lucifer with a side of The Great Train Robbery and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade heavenly and hellish crime saga. They have done a fantastic job establishing the various members of the crew throughout the previous five issues, including master thief Isaiah, young girl/accused Salem witch/queen of snark Erin, Egyptian grave robber Amunet, drug addict ninja Hideki, and my personal favorite character, bisexual cowboy Coin Counter, and now it’s time to set them loose in a variety of set pieces leading up to a kind of perfect ending. Interweaving the character backstories throughout the main narrative of the miniseries really pays off in spades, especially once you get to the impactful final page.
Even though the battles are technically between dead people and immortals, Bruno Hidalgo draws hand to hand fight scenes with weight behind them thanks to close-ups of each punch or kick and good old fashioned speed lines. Isaiah really gets the shit beaten out of him by various angels and the bruises he takes throughout the book are a reminder of how desperately and painfully he wants to be mortal. Each hit and possible angelic captivity shows that even though he was a solo thief in his past life, Isaiah is a great leader and generally gives a shit. Hidalgo has a great sense of humor to match Kahn’s heat of battle/pointing guns at people being glued to their technological devices in the afterlife banter, and the silent panel is one of the funniest scenes in the comic. Also, he uses a kind of burnished yellow/gold tone for the angels that makes them look like slightly overcooked Simpsons characters and is kind of hilarious. Even though they have an important role to protect the nicer side of the afterlife, angels aren’t all knowing and don’t make great conversation partners. They also don’t have free will and make great patsies and antagonists in action sequences.
In the end, Heavenly Blues #6 joins the pantheon of Holy Grail stories, and its use of the slightly shinier cup of the carpenter than the one the Drs. Jones found is much more than just a heist MacGuffin or the object of a video game fetch quest. It represents human freedom in all its dented flawed glory: the freedom to transcend the boxes that society has placed us in and have another shot at living a great life like the Heavenly Blues crew achieves in the end. And free will is definitely something worth fighting for literally as Amunet uses the Grail as a literal melee weapon as she dips and dodges the angels’ mechanical guardian for it. Isaiah even gives an angel a taste of free will after battling with him for a whole issue and posits the idea that maybe it’s better to just chill and fade away than live forever doing the same thing. Hidalgo uses an almost euphoric light purple to show this embrace of oblivion, and it’s a wonderful reminder that, throughout its run, Heavenly Blues has been as much about theology and philosophy than it has been about crime capers and shootouts.
Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo make Heavenly Blues #6 part highlight reel, part beautiful conclusion to five people’s journey to achieve not just eternal life, but life. It’s fun to watch to this heist play out on the page instead of through exposition, and the ending is well-earned. I will miss this fun, flawed cast of characters (Especially Coin Counter.) and look forward to more thought provoking and ass kicking Kahn and Hidalgo joints in the future.
Story/Letters: Ben Kahn Art: Bruno Hidalgo
Story: 9 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy
Scout Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review