The Hellblazer #16 – Richard Kadrey, Writer; Davide Fabbri, Penciller; Jose Marzan Jr., Inker; Carrie Strachan, Colorist
Ray – 6.5/10
Corrina: Wanted To Like It More
Ray: It’s the third creative team for Hellblazer, as veteran Vertigo writer Richard Kadrey steps on board after Tim Seeley’s arc, and the tone is very similar to Simon Spurrier’s year-long arc prior to Seeley. That is to say, the high-intensity surreal splatterpunk is gone, replaced with a slow-burn mystery. Once again, getting close to Constantine pays no dividends, as the series opens with a friend of his named “Cats” gets a hole blasted in his chest by an unseen enemy. That brings Constantine back to the libertine paradise of San Francisco, where he teams up with his old friend Pirate Jenny. At first, it seems like more of a reunion than a case, as they catch up over drinks and talk about the case, but it soon turns out Cats wasn’t an isolated victim – he was the latest dead magician of many.
From there, the comic essentially takes on the tone of a supernatural noir. There’s a shady detective, a mysterious cult of murderers with mysterious artifacts, and a dame. There’s always a dame. There are also demons that look suspiciously like they’re wearing Halloween masks, which sort of took me out of the comic a bit – Constantine villains don’t usually look quite so cartoony. Pirate Jenny meets an untimely death midway through the comic, which took me by surprise – she seemed like she was being set up as his latest partner in crime. But she hasn’t been around enough to really make her loss hurt. There are a few good Constantine-esque moments in this issue, such as when he steals a Priest’s giant cross to impale a demon, but the issue just feels a bit drab – until it introduces a villain in the final act that again, looks sort of ridiculous. Not sold on this run yet.
Corrina: Kadrey, of Sandman Slim fame, seems by his credentials to be an excellent choice for this title and I can see glimpses of excellence here, as with the fight in the Church, and in John’s narration as he investigates, which are in character and snarky. And, yet, the overall plot doesn’t quite hit that level consistently. The death of Pirate Jenny was utterly predictable and a classic example of fridging and that’s disappointing because it was so easy to see it coming and because a female character was created to be disposable. (If Jenny returns, I will reverse my words.)
I like the mystery, though it seems to me that John stumbles onto the group a little too easily. We’ll see how this plays out but of all the creators on this title since it was rebooted, I enjoyed James Tynion IV/Ming Doyle’s run the best. So far, no one’s filled their shoes as well.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.