Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #1 – Tom Taylor, Writer; Darick Robertson, Artist; Diego Rodriguez, Colorist
Ray – 10/10
Ray: I knew Tom Taylor doing Constantine was going to be something special. The British blue-collar mage has had some strong runs in recent years from James Tynion IV and Simon Spurrier, but Taylor has taken the character right back to his roots with a pitch-dark Black Label story that puts the character through a crucible. It starts with a bleak flashback to John’s childhood, complete with his drunk and abusive father who hated him for his mother’s death in childbirth. John had two close friends—a lonely rich boy and a slightly older Asian girl—but when the former died in a tragic accident partially caused by John, they were split apart by their parents and John descended slowly into a darker path.
The story then flashes forward to the present day, as John and Aisha, the survivors, are reunited decades later. She’s now a police detective caught up in a disturbing mystery involving a murdered man with wings sewn to him. It’s not a surprise or spoiler to say that the dead boy is back for revenge—that’s the main plot of the story, and it’s one that we’ve seen before. But Tom Taylor is a master of horror, and it’s hard to think of a better match for the concept than artist Darick Robertson. Robertson’s work with Garth Ennis has always shown off his strength—gritty semi-realism, capable of depicting both the mundane and the surreal in stark, often horrifying detail. It’s exactly the artist you want for a vintage Constantine story.
One thing I appreciated is that Constantine and Aisha are never in any way ship-teased. Constantine may have crushed on her back in the day, but now she’s happily married and Constantine quickly shifts to glad-handing her husband and kids to get a place to crash. This issue is actually very funny at times, but when it gets dark, it gets VERY dark, like a record scratch as Constantine’s sins come back to haunt him. I was glad to see Constantine casually acknowledged as bisexual again, something that gets erased from most adaptations. And the ending will have people talking, as one of the most iconic Vertigo characters makes an appearance in a very different form. A fantastic successor to the original Hellblazer series.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.