DC Comics is really dropping out a lot of new comics this month for their new DC You program. One of these books is Constantine: The Hellblazer. The impression I’m getting from this one is that it’s going for the more serious and dark tone like the old comic from Vertigo, instead of the one that is more connected to the regular superhero universe. Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV and Riley Rossmo are all on this book so let’s see what they can give us.
Is it good?
Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 (DC Comics)
Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 is pretty much an introductory story. It establishes who John Constantine is, how he operates and what he is like as a character (spoilers: he’s kind of a dick) as he goes about his day and ends up having to help out a demon who runs a club. For new and old readers alike, this is a good first issue in that regard. I’ve only read a little bit of the original Hellblazer comic (mostly just Jaime Delano’s run a while ago), so I can’t speak for true, hardcore fans of the series who followed it through the Ennis to Milligan runs. However, what I can say is that this does feel much closer to Hellblazer than the other Constantine comic.
I say that because Constantine: The Hellblazer is a much mature and dark title. Constantine definitely feels closer to that “bastard” personality that people keep saying he has from the comic, intentionally screwing a lot of people over and working towards his own interests at points. The violence, the sex (a bit less explicit than Midnighter #1, but still more than you would expect to see from a DC comic), dealing with demons, and even Constantine being openly bi (I don’t actually recall this part from the previous titles) and actually smoking — it’s all there. This is definitely more geared for those who liked Vertigo’s Hellblazer, even if it isn’t as adult as it could be.
The thoughts going through that bartender’s head must be interesting considering what he is looking at.
Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV do a pretty good job here on the writing. While the opening is a bit heavy on narration, it slows down over time and what is there reads pretty well. The dialogue itself reads fine and is engaging, especially scenes such as John at the bar early and the small touches of humor interspersed throughout. There’s not much to say on the cast of the characters so far, since there isn’t too much established about them yet nor do they really standout. The pacing is good and the story structure is as well, besides one scene — a double page spread where you start at the top of it and slowly go downwards, but the dialogue can be either read right to left or left to right in different panels, so you could end up getting a little confused about what is happening. The supernatural elements are intriguing, as is the cliffhanger at the very end.
The artwork is by Riley Rossmo, who did Drumhellar. I said before in the past that I’m not that big of a fan of Rossmo’s style and that pretty much extends to here as well. That being said though, I think he is a good fit for this comic; his particular style and eye for depicting supernatural and surreal situations and creatures is impressive, judging from this issue and some of his past work. Since the story is slightly surreal and otherworldly in areas, Rossmo’s art fits perfectly and his depictions of the demons and magical elements are quite good. His layouts are also much easier to follow here than in his indie work. Sure, his body proportions definitely do seem off at time on regular humans (very small heads on huge bodies), but that’s a small complaint overall.
Is It Good?
Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 is not a bad start at all to this new series. It feels much closer to the original comic, being far more adult and serious than the other Constantine book DC put out, while also having some pretty good writing. While I freely admit to not being a fan of the artist, people who definitely like Rossmo’s style will definitely enjoy this. Overall, I recommend this comic for those seeking a darker, but also mature title from DC Comics right now.