John Constantine, Hellblazer #1 – Simon Spurrier, Writer; Aaron Campbell, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: John Constantine’s spent the last few years of his history in the DCU, having adventures that ranged from overly close to superheroic to surprisingly close to gritty Vertigo nightmares. But no one’s quite captured the true ugly grit of the character since Hellblazer ended until now, as Simon Spurrier shifts from The Dreaming to this new Sandman Universe title, John Constantine, Hellblazer #1.
That’s both a good and bad thing, because immersing yourself in John Constantine’s world for too long can be a trying experience. Last issue’s preview one-shot showed us that John was returning to a modern Britain just as filled with corruption and filth as the one he left, and Hellblazer #1 doubles down on that. This is a Constantine who makes an obscene joke about Prince Charles, gets thrown out of a bar, and immediately hits on the lady bouncer outside. And it’s only getting more raw from there, as basically everyone he meets pulls him deeper and deeper into the bowels of a dark and corrupt London.
Sure enough, as soon as he extricates himself from one uncomfortable situation, he finds himself in another when he’s kidnapped by a gang of young hooligans. But this isn’t an ordinary gang of kids looking to steal smokes or sell drugs – no, it’s a gang of magical chavs trying to pull John into a complex plot involving sadistic angels, vicious curses, and everything in between.
Once this storyline kicks off, the book becomes a little harder to follow as it jumps from one scene to another quickly. Some scenes, like Constantine dealing with an eccentric homeless man who may or may not be a serial killer, are highly compelling. Other times, it’s so dense as to be inscrutable. One thing’s for sure, though – this is a darker Constantine than we’ve seen in years, and he’s a perfect fit for the Sandman Universe line. We’ve already seen him drop into the other titles briefly, and it seems like his original tales are going to be dark and compelling.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.