It’s not me, it’s you. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for the current state of our relationship.
We’ve known each other for a long time now – very nearly thirty years – sharing tears and laughs and smokes and pints of ale together, but things haven’t been right between us for a while now, have they? Sure, there were good times, and I’ve told you about those days on a number of occasions. But lately, it feels like you’re not even here, never present the way I want you to be present. There have been some pretty dark times. None more so than last November. I won’t go into it now. I know you remember.
That November day hurt me, John. But I know, deep down inside your seemingly callous exterior and your mischievous, plotting habits, I know that it hurt you, too.
But hope springs eternal, doesn’t it? And this day, March 20, perhaps coincidentally the first day of spring, I still have hope for our us…
Written by: Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes
Illustrated by: Renato Guedes
Published by: DC Comics
I think that much of the difficulty between us can be attributed to the circles you run in and the company you keep. Your friend Alan was a great influence on you. I still remember how you looked so sharp in your suit and tie, casually smoking silk cuts next to his giant frame and scraggly beard! Jamie and Rick, too, even if that gang were a little on the weird, politically left-leaning side. But they were weird like family, you know? To be honest, you were never more yourself then when you were in their presence. That was the John I came to know and admire. Even Garth was a good pal, although I always though he was a bit intense in his religious views. But that suited you too, didn’t it? John: ever the shape-shifter. John: ever the charlatan. Well, Garth brought Kit with him and she was good for you, which, I suppose, made her good for me. It’s too bad how that ended. You certainly have a way with close relations don’t you?
Sorry. I don’t mean to drag up any negative aspects of our history together. Not more than what might be required in this writing. I was ecstatic to see you cleaned up and wearing the suit again alongside Andy a few years ago. The old John was back – truly magic! Hell, I was even happy to see Milligan marry you to Epiphany, wasn’t I? That has to count for something! Not everyone was enamoured with the idea, but I supported that life change, even if I knew it was doomed to fail.
Sorry. I did it again, didn’t I?
You have to admit, beginnings aren’t really your kettle of fish, are they? Still, there was that time when you sort of started your life over again in Los Angeles – an experience so surreal that it seems taken from an entirely different universe. I can’t believe you faked that American accent the whole time you were there! Ah, but that’s you! That was a good time, if short lived.
What I mean to say to you here, now, is that lately, I’ve had a really tough time spending any quality time with you. It’s like the John I knew completely, I don’t know, ended. Is that the right word? It’s given me a real sense of vertigo. I know that I haven’t necessarily fit in with some of the people you spend your time with these days. Maybe you take me a little for granted. Maybe you think that because I’ve been with you since the beginning, I’ll always be there with you. And that’s got me thinking: maybe it’s best to leave what we had, all those great times and those great friends and those great moments in the past. Leave them in a place where they’ll always be well remembered, like favourite novels, read and placed on the bookshelf for display.
But I’m a completest. There are certain things I like to finish. You know that about me. It’s like, if I’m in the past, I need to be in the present and the future as well. There’s a spot on my bookshelf for another book of you, you know?
These two new guys you’re spending time with, Jeff and Ray? They’ve got you travelling the globe and hanging out with all sorts of strange cosplayers. It’s a scene I have a tough time getting my head around. Still, people say some good things about those guys. Maybe we’ll all get along. Maybe it’ll be like it once was. Maybe the John I know will be in the present with me. Hope springs eternal, doesn’t it? I’m willing to try this new arrangement out. Let’s call it a new beginning. A sort of “first issue”. Hopefully it’s one that isn’t cursed to end badly.
I’ll see you tonight at the usual spot. I’ve got to make my regular Wednesday run to the shop first. We’re all creatures of habit, after all. Me, no less than you.
I’ll see you tonight. And this time, you owe me a pint.