"The Hellblazer #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 August 24th, 2016
After returning to London and putting all of its residents’ lives on the line, John Constantine has settled back in to life on that side of the pond. He managed to get back to his home country thanks to some help from Swamp Thing, but now the green one is calling in that favor. The vast majority of this issue is spent with Constantine basically running an errand to introduce two characters. We get a lot of information on Swamp Thing and what he's been up to, but is he going to be a recurring character in Hellblazer? Or will he get his own title with DC's new Rebirth?
The bulk of the book has the same basic plot outline as Mad Max: Fury Road in that they drive in one direction, then turn around and drive back. The big difference is that that movie is far more exciting. We get the background on how Constantine made his way back to London and beat the curse that was put upon him. This was information that could have been included in the Rebirth one-shot to add some more color. It feels out of place here, almost like the creative team forgot to put it in that previous book.
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What is abundantly clear is just how much people don't like and/or trust Constantine. While he's capable of truly remarkable things in the supernatural world, he's a bit of a bastard. He's horrible at keeping friendships to the point where people just don't want to talk to him at all. They hate when they're forced to do so. They know that sooner or later, he'll use them for some task without regard for their feelings or maybe even their wellbeing. Despite all this, he presses on, knowing he's got to fight back the darkness, even if his friends hate him. Not that he does much in the way of fighting in this issue.
The opening and closing pages of Hellblazer set up the big bad in a really creative way. It's easily the most exciting element of the comic and one that I'm looking forward to exploring further.
Artist Moritat's depiction of Swamp Thing is something out of a horror film. Since he can communicate through all plant life, he appears to Constantine through a greenhouse. His head, hands, and feet come through potted plants, creating floating appendages in this creepy, disconnected way with vines spewing forth all around. You get an immediate sense of his vast power as well as the gentle soul lurking just beneath the surface. This comes through in his eyes and facial expressions.
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Constantine's look is laid-back and carefree. He comes face-to-face with Swamp Thing and doesn't bat an eye. His expression shows that he just wants to get this over with so he can go back to doing whatever else he was doing before he was interrupted. He's the cool kid that doesn't have time for you or anyone else.
I've read a number of the DC Rebirth titles. Hellblazer is the only one that I'm not all that impressed with. It has nothing exciting or overly interesting going on in it. The most intriguing elements have nothing to do with the main character. John Constantine's hey-day was when he was off in his own little world in the more mature Vertigo line. Maybe the DC Universe with its capes and tights is just not the right place for him.