Tonight I am going to talk about a book that, while not fantastic, still surprised me. I want to talk about the Post Convergence book from DC, Constantine: The Hellblazer #1, “Going Down” written by Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV with art by Riley Rossmo.
This is the first, and honestly probably only, DC book I will be in this post Convergence universe. DC has finally lost me as a customer beyond this one book. They have even lost me on Vertigo, their adult label. With Fables and the underwhelming The Kitchen ending soon that wraps up my stint in DC. I will still read some DC books occasionally but to be honest I doubt I will buy too many again. It will take quite a bit for me to pick up anymore titles.
Not only has DC lost me but one of the reasons they have lost me is for their treatment of Constantine, my favorite character and comic book ever made. After the cancellation of the long running Hellblazer title a few years ago, the replacement title, Constantine, was a letdown. They went away from everything that John Constantine was. A rough old bastard who will get you killed, possessed, or eaten. In the reboot title John interacts heavily with super heroes, even leading a team of them in Justice League Dark. The fact that Hellblazer took place in a world that didn’t focus on or really talk about powers is one of the reasons I loved it. The fact that they were on Vertigo was also awesome because it allowed them to explore adult and severe themes. With this new PG seeming world it was really hard to get into Constantine. Thankfully, so far, this latest book has gone away from those themes and back to the type of world that made Hellblazer amazing.
This issue feels like a reboot, but a reboot of Hellblazer and not Constantine. It opens with John “buying” a new suit, while being pestered by the ghost of his dead band mate, Gary Lester, a name familiar to Hellblazer fans. He leaves the store, steals cigarettes and a wallet from a man, and proceeds to get himself, Film Noir style, into trouble. The set up and the rest of the issue follows a general Constantine formula of him meeting a demon or ghost or etc. and dealing with it. This time he messes with and stops a demon living on Earth, Blythe. Events transpire and she ends up being tricked back into Hell, thus setting up a returnable demon villain, which if she follows any character of old like Nergal, is promising.
I really thought this book was well written and feels like it is worthy of the Hellblazer title. While not being Hellblazer or even in that timeline, it’s still better than before. This Constantine is deadly, tricky and a smooth talker like he was prior, but he is also younger, more sexual and a little brasher. This is definitely a new John but one that feels similar enough for me to enjoy. I also am glad that he has ghosts following him again.
The art is not bad; I have seen better but it suits the world and the writing. Oddly enough it also suits John. This is one of the better looking John Constantine’s then we have seen in awhile.
I give this book 3 out of 5… it’s a solid Hellblazer; there is room to grow but also room to fail. I will cautiously be following this one.