Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #3 – Tom Taylor, Writer; Darick Robertson, Artist; Diego Rodriguez, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: Tom Taylor has given us a full-on, unapologetic revival of the original Hellblazer series in a way none of the other versions have quite captured. Combining the gritty, guilt-riddled consequence with a surprisingly huge-scale storyarc worthy of Darick Robertson’s widescreen art, this issue delivers a thoroughly satisfying final issue with a current-events kick. Constantine’s deceased childhood friend, now resurrected with a demon in him, has created a racket that extorts money from the rich in exchange for fake salvation—that always ends with them falling out of the sky. It’s a twisted plot that is sometimes a bit satisfying, if the marks are as awful as he says they are. Of course, the demon Despondeo—the actual main villain of this story—isn’t nearly as choosy with his targets, and so after some chilling early segments he becomes a much more hands-on villain. If I have one complaint about this issue, it’s that the action segments don’t exactly mesh with the horror ones—but they’re both highly entertaining.
Taylor gets Constantine, particularly in the way is troubled childhood is one of the lingering open wounds on his psyche. The confrontation with his father and the callbacks to the few happy moments he can remember are powerful, and much like Taylor’s other work with Constantine recently we see how John’s heroic instincts usually overshadow his worst traits. The best part of this story, though, is definitely the interactions with the charming and mysterious Lucifer. Sure, this version of the DCU’s Satan is a bit more in-your-face than most—complete with the red skin and horns—but he still has the charm of the Mike Carey version. This series feels like a wild, twisty run through Constantine’s worst week, and while we certainly wouldn’t want to be him or know him, it’s a lot of fun to come along for the ride. The chaotic nature of the story and the gritty history at play here make this one of the true must-reads of the Black Label line so far, and put Taylor into the character’s tier of elite writers.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.