John Constantine, Hellblazer #3 – Simon Spurrier, Writer; Aaron Campbell, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: Constantine’s down and dirty run through London continues in John Constantine: Hellblazer #3, as he investigates a case that involves a drunk war veteran, demonic possession, and a cursed cell phone.
The plot isn’t so much a plot as a series of events that Constantine stumbles through and alternatively gets beat up and banishes monsters, but that’s not really a criticism. It’s a perfect representation of what vintage Constantine’s adventures were like. He wasn’t so much a hero or protector as an agent of order in a chaotic magical city, constantly barely fending off corruption by dark magic and often succumbing to other kinds of temptation.
Aaron Campbell’s art is a perfect choice for this story, capturing both the grittiness of modern London with the surreal elements that creep in and out of the residents’ bodies. He also manages to capture Constantine’s bitter world-weariness in every scene.
Constantine is a chameleon, and that’s something that few writers get. He’s able to shift from being a cynical and cold bastard when talking to the demon he has trapped in his phone, to faking compassion for an addled vet he needs to manipulate, to showing genuine compassion mixed with a bit of intimidation for the young mute boy he’s trying to disentangle from a gang that’s gotten involved in dark magic.
By the end of the issue, it actually seems like Constantine might have things going in his direction – and then it takes a shocking swerve that either bodes very well or very ill for him. Considering how Constantine seems to be a chaotic agent in the main DCU at the moment, seeing him in this much grimmer, more downcast version can be jarring. But it’s a compelling supernatural noir series that seems to have a lot more of a dark and magical London to explore.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.