"Hellblazer: Rebirth #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by DC Comics
Written by Simon Oliver
Illustrated by Moritat
Colored by Andre Szymanowicz and Moritat
2016, 32 Pages, $2.99
Comic released on July 20th, 2016
After slumming it in New York City for a bit, John Constantine returns to London. This wasn't something that was an easy hop across the pond. See, a demon sort of banished him with a curse until he could figure out a way back in. This is easier said than done, as this big bad is willing to sacrifice eight million people if it means getting at Constantine.
That's the thing about this character, and it's something I've only recently started to understand. John Constantine is a bit of an asshole. While he means well...generally speaking, you wouldn't necessarily be surprised if he did something horrible or ignoble if it meant saving his own skin. Even his friends speak this way about him, as evidenced by the brief scene of Swamp Thing defending the guy to Wonder Woman and Shazam. That scene feels shoehorned in as a reminder that Hellblazer takes place in the greater DC Universe now. It is a real momentum killer.
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There's a smarmy quality to Constantine. You love him...but you also hate him just a bit. He plays this demon like a fiddle and he's clearly six steps ahead of him and everyone else around him. When it comes to supernatural events, John Constantine is the smartest guy in the room and he knows it. He enjoys poking fun at these creatures even if it means he gets a little roughed up in the process. This isn't to say that these things don't affect him. It's clear that he carries a lot of baggage, especially when it comes to those he couldn't save.
Artist Moritat's design for the character reinforces these feelings. He has a sly grin that sits below knowing eyes. His clothes are loose and unkempt, like he just rolled out of bed and probably hasn't washed them in days. He is oozing confidence from every pore.
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This is a contrast to the demon who looks rather silly. He's like a cross between Killer Croc, an old British wig-wearing soldier, and a Starbucks barista. His clothing is that of colonial times and he sports large gauge earrings that drag his ear lobes down to his chin. His skull-like face is rather fierce with beady red eyes and a large, lipless mouth filled with razor sharp teeth.
Hellblazer: Rebirth resets the status quo for John Constantine. I am not up to speed as to where he was in the DC Universe prior to this issue, so some of the setup, such as the brief stint in New York, feels strange and out of place. It's like they needed to quickly explain where he went when he left London, but that wasn't really necessary. The stakes are high and he's on his own. His enemies are not things that Superman can swoop in and punch. These are monsters capable of real terror.
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