DC Comics just re-launched Constantine, as Constantine the Hellblazer.
This new series is written by Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV. With art by Riley Rossmo and colors by Ivan Plascensia. For a first outing, it’s a really good read, but is it a return to the Hellblazer roots?
Being a longtime Constantine fan, I was a little disappointed in the New 52 series. Don’t get me wrong, when I needed my fill of trench coats and arrogance it was a good book to read. But it never really felt like a horror book, which was the main appeal of the original Hellblazer series.
Hellblazer was all about the horror, and its mature rating allowed it to push the boundaries a lot. In comparison, the New 52 book just felt a little neutered with their teen rating. The story told in this first issue, however, seems to fit right in with the old Hellblazer lineage. They seem to have found a way to really push the rating.
Long gone is the John Constantine that was throwing energy blasts, and generally acting like a jerk superhero. The John that we get in this issue is the same scummy magician we all know and love.
Doyle and James Tynion bring us a much different John than what we have had in the New 52 series. The first two pages give us a glimpse of the John that will be leading this series. He’s back to being the type who scams his way through problems. The type of character that would fit better in the seedy underbelly of the DC universe
The art fits right in with the story. The grungy line work and cartoony drawing style lend themselves well to drawing demons and monsters. The storytelling presented in this issue is also top-notch; Rossmo and Plascensia obviously spent a lot of time making sure some of the fairly complex sequences in this book read clearly. With any comic there will be flaws, and I will say I got lost during a more complicated scene—midway through the first issue, when John is walking through the club, called Inferno. But with the way this book reads, only getting lost once speaks volumes of this creative team’s skill with their craft.
All of this added together produces a book that is very reminiscent of some of the more recent Hellblazer books. It’s a solid horror story with some great ideas and designs to it. It’s also the beginning of the first big arc for the book, and the cliffhanger at the end definitely made me excited to read issue two.
Constantine the Hellblazer is a very good horror book, and when you come down to it that’s why most people read Constantine. The first issue is out now, and if you’re a fan of Hellblazer, it’s definitely a book worth picking up.