Story: Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV
Art: Riley Rossmo
What They Say:
The dark adventures of DC’s foremost occult detective continue in an all-new series as he investigates the cruelest case he’s ever come across—his own dark history!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
While I haven’t stuck by John Constantine throughout the years, I’ve been a fan since back during his Swamp Thing days and his original series that ran for quite some time. I reconnected with the character a bit last year with the Injustice series, but as fun as that is, it’s not really John. So when a new series was kicking off after the end of Convergence with this team on board, it instantly gave off a more serious and old school feeling to it for the character, which drew me into check it out. While I can find a place for Constantine in the mainline DC Comics universe, it’s a character that works far better in the fringes and messing with things there than playing amid the capes and masks of everyone else.
The debut here is one that definitely plays in the darker side, though it doesn’t try to really introduce you to events in a clean way, which works in its favor here overall. The book does a solid job of introducing us to Constantine without giving us his background biography as he uses a little magic to win over a young woman so he gets some clothes and a chance to get all the blood off of from him from whatever he was involved with beforehand. While he does this, he gets chastised a bi from one of the many ghosts that follows him around all the time, as Gary Lester is one that has a lot to say but also a friendlier relationship overall considering their past together. This gives us a chance to get to know both of them through dialogue and narration, and you come away certainly enjoying the sarcastic side of his personality, and his anything goes side as well as he hits the bar and gets pleasantly flirty with the barkeep there. It’s played simply and without real comment, something that I definitely appreciate considering the character’s past.
What the opening issue wants to do is introduce us to John and how he operates, which comes through an interaction with Blythe, a demon that works above the board in the world, albeit while not saying outright that she’s a demon. She’s come to John for a bit of a help with a problem, and that has her using a little seduction to get it, before pitting him against the problem she has deep within the operation she runs. It’s not a standout story with what it is, in fact it’s fairly unmemorable, but it shows us the strange side of the world here as she and Constantine walk down the nine layers of her place, Inferno. It’s a freaking beautiful single page piece that’s amazingly detailed and covers a whole lot of material. This takes us more into the occult and supernatural side of the world, and when you add in what John has to deal with when it comes to her supposed opponent, you also get a handle on how he operates himself.
Deception is the name of the game when it comes to the world of Hellblazer and the opening issue of Constantine here does that really well. With a great sense of design and particularly panel layout from Riley Rossmo, the book delves deep into things in a great way and makes you feel like you’re fully inserting yourself into this other world. Doyle and Tynion bring Constantine to life in a solid way here where you get a solid sense of who he is, but without a massive info dump to bring new readers up to speed. It covers a lot of ground and because of some of the dense panel layouts, it gets into a lot of material and really feels like a strong read that you can go back and re-read and get even more out of. Very recommended.
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: DC Comics
Release Date: June 10th, 2015