The Hellblazer #20 – Tim Seeley, Writer; Davide Fabbri, Penciller; Christian Dalla Vecchia, Inker; Carrie Strachan, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Never Date Constantine
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Tim Seeley’s return in The Hellblazer #20 is off to a good start, as he brings a more superhero sensibility to Constantine without losing what makes him work – namely, weird, gothic, British horror. When we last left off, Constantine was suffering from a case of magical impotence and his ex-love Margaret Ames had her body hijacked by a dead gangster who was happily embracing her correct gender identity with the help of her Priest brother. The opening segment, featuring this Hell escapee celebrating their first morning in a body that reflects them, is both disturbing and yet oddly touching. For a moment you forget that this person is actually a sadistic crime lord. Constantine, meanwhile, looking for answers about how to save Margaret, summons his old frenemy, Blythe. This character, last seen in James Tynion’s run on the character, is always enjoyably weird.
Seeley strikes a good balance, working in the surreal characters like Blythe in a way that doesn’t make the title lose its edge (and Blythe’s banter with John is excellent). I’m not quite sure that the other guest star, Huntress, works quite as well. Seeley introduced this version of the character with Tom King in Grayson and wrote her quite a bit in Nightwing, but this issue still has her coming off a bit too much like the hair-trigger violent vigilante she was in Birds of Prey. To say she and Constantine don’t get along well would be putting it lightly. But in the middle of the main plot, Seeley has some interesting subplots involving London and its local gang culture. Some of these characters could have been cringe-worthy in lesser hands, but Seeley manages to make the young gangsters come off as both dangerous, but also as victims of the culture surrounding them. Seeley’s got some big ideas in this arc, and Constantine is really the only DC character who could carry a story like this.
Corrina: The first time I read any of Constantine’s books was the rebooted version by Ming Doyle and Tynion. I’m working off that as my base knowledge of the character and, so far, so good, as it’s becoming increasingly clear that being near Constantine is always a bad idea. (Run, Zatanna, run!)
But I want to talk about Huntress, a character I’ve read in all her incarnations. The Helena Bertinelli version before the new 52 reboot was serious about being Catholic, and righteous vengeance informed part of her personality. This Helena is still wearing a costume inspired by the Catholic cross but few of her appearances have focused on her Catholicism. (Being a secret agent of Spyral doesn’t leave much time for religion, I suppose.) But this arc has brought back Huntress as a righteous avenger and I like that but it seems to come out of left field. Of course, if it eventually leads to this version being more like the previous Helena Bertinelli, I’d like that, as it was an essential facet of her character.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.