Written by Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV
Art and cover by Riley Rossmo
Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 flew right under my radar. It has a great creative team and the previews looked interesting but for some reason I never really paid any attention. This may have been because I’ve never read a single Constantine issue but to be honest I think it just got a little lost in the Secret Wars storm that is my pull list. Then it starting popping up here and there; my friend Millie (who has a wonderful channel that you should definitely check out) mentioned that incredible double page spread, James Tynion tweeted about being excited to write a bisexual character, some beautiful panels appeared on my Instagram feed and suddenly I NEEDED to read it. I have since read the first and second issues so I’m going to review them together!
Constantine: The Hellblazer starts with a bang, the very first page tells us practically all we need to know about our leading man and the direction this team is taking him in. John is standing in a clothing store stark naked and covered in blood, looking like this is just a part of his everyday routine and like he may just be a little proud of that fact. Over the next couple of pages we see him use his dark powers to sort out that slight nudity problem, this is an ideal way to show us new readers what he can do and give us an idea of how casually he can and will do it.
The book doesn’t necessarily feel like a total reboot, it doesn’t have the comfort of a completely new book but it does help the new reader out. It takes it’s time letting us figure John out and get our bearings in this world of his but doesn’t go so slowly that it drags. This is a balance that both issues manage to maintain the whole way through and it allows for a fun reading experience no matter how much knowledge you’re going in with.
The first issue makes no secret of John’s sexuality, we see him flirt with a cute restaurant owner (who charges much too much for curry and chips) and have some pretty public sex with a (slightly terrifying) demon woman all within a few pages. John’s excited, almost awed face when he meets Oliver the adorable restaurant owner ($12 for curry and chips though) was a highlight of the first issue and really pulled my attention to just how strong the art is. Every character feels unique and fully realized, every location is packed full of little details and has such a distinct look and feel. The colours are beautiful, often looking like the pages have been left in the attic too long. The patterns and textures in the shading add so much to every page and make it all feel a little dusty and old but still inviting.
The dialogue is snappy and smart and each character has a clear voice. While issue #1 is has a day-in-the-life feel it does give a good sense of where the larger story is going to take us and the second issue really picks it up and runs with it. John’s intimate knowledge of the dark and creepy brings us right into his world, he is so confident that as a reader it’s easy to follow even if you have no idea what the hell is happening! The twists and turns make sure we don’t get too comfortable and serve as a constant reminder that in John Constantine’s world anything could happen.
Overall I’ve really enjoyed the first two issues and I’d definitely recommend them!