The Hellblazer #23 – Tim Seeley, Writer; Davide Fabbri, Penciller; Christian Dalla Vecchia, Inker; Carrie Strachan, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Not Quite a Win
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Every extended Constantine run seems to have one constant – at some point, all the bad decisions John Constantine has made and all the people and demons that he’s screwed over are going to come back to haunt him. This arc, “The Good Old Days“, has delivered on that front. The closest thing Constantine has to a true love, Margaret Ames, has been possessed by the spirit of a dead mobster as part of the plan of the mobster’s brother, a rogue Priest. In order to get her soul back, Constantine has teamed up with Huntress, but he might need help from something much darker and more evil – namely, his vengeful ex/demon Blythe. Seeley’s written Huntress extensively before, in Grayson, so it’s not a surprise that his take on her is much more nuanced than we often see in other books like Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. She’s definitely more ruthless than your average vigilante, but not unthinkingly so. She’s certainly able to work with her fellow heroes without pulling a gun.
Where the issue flags a little bit is in the demon gathering. Davide Fabbri draws some great monsters as Nergal presides over a conclave of ancient evils, but the action is a little bit too jumbled in places and at times it feels like the world’s worse rager. Constantine is constantly playing one side against the other, of course, but Nergal has managed to find his one genuine weak spot in Margaret, and that puts him off balance which is something we see only rarely. The evil Priest’s change of heart as he realizes exactly what he’s unleashed into the world is well done, but it comes maybe a bit too quickly. The cliffhanger sets up Constantine’s final undoing, which will be resolved next issue – in the series finale.
I think making Constantine work in the DCU is always a tricky balancing act, but Seeley has probably done a better job than anyone besides Tynion/Doyle. Tynion is taking the character back for Justice League Dark soon, but this is a strong run to go out on.
Corrina: Teaming up Huntress and Constantine is an idea that should work and, to some extent, it does, but it feels like they never quite jelled as a team. They’re both loners, so that makes sense, but it makes their team-up somewhat unsatisfying to read since they have little common ground other than to save Margaret.
I liked how the death of the priest played out but there needed to be a bit more of him and his brother other than the surface brother-bond for it to work completely. Or maybe I was squicked out by two helpless women at the mercy of demons this issue and that clouded my enjoyment of what’s essentially a good story. What I wanted was, at some point, for Margaret to play a larger one role in her own rescue.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.