Last issue, New York was given over to someone else, which in some ways allowed the character to say goodbye. If this Rebirth issue is any indication he’s not going back anytime soon. Is it good?
The Hellblazer: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The official DC synopsis reads:
John Constantine’s lost weekend in New York City was fun, but London’s where his heart is—only a pissed-off demon and a curse on his soul stand in his way. Even Constantine’s questionable ethics are pushed to the limit when he puts eight million souls on the line to get what he wants….
Why does this book matter?
Constantine is on his way back home which means his history and family are fair game for story telling opportunities. That’ll make the character development all the more compelling as the story goes back to his roots.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Writer Simon Oliver is clearly setting things up so as to remind us of the horrible things that happened to Constantine’s family due to his actions. Well, you can’t blame him for his mother dying during childbirth…but then again after this series kicks off maybe we’ll find out we can. This issue spends much of its time attempting to break a curse that forced Constantine to stay in NYC for good and for the most part Oliver succeeds at making the breaking of this curse interesting. The most important thing is he’s back in London.
This issue opens with a flashback in order to show us Constantine’s relationship with the demon who cursed him, which of course is going to come back and bite him when he enters London. Oliver has Constantine utilize a con on the demon (I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers) which sets things up, but also reminds us Constantine isn’t much of a hero. It’s his interactions with the demon that relay the backstory we’ll need moving forward, but also reminds us he deals with some terrible beings from Hell too.
The art by Moritat is effective when magic is floating about and you can tell he’s spent a good deal of time nailing down Constantine’s look. There were a few panels that reminded me of Willem Dafoe, which come to think of it would be a good casting choice for the character, and the emotions and acting he does all work well. The demon always looks creepy in a looming sort of way and there’s one hell of a panel that puts the word Hell right into his mouth literally. It’s a clever panel and it hits a home run in making the words look haunting.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Overall this issue is too slow and boring for its own good. Oliver is attempting to make the breaking of the curse a bigger deal than it is, probably because so much was put into it to force him away from London, but it reads like a waiting game from the very beginning. Since Constantine’s plan requires he draw some symbols on the ground and simply wait, it makes for a rather boring reading experience. We all know what’s going to happen and on top of that the solution isn’t even that clever. It’s a deus ex machina plot if I ever saw one which makes this a letdown.
While the general new direction is relayed, I’m not sure this issue does enough to establish the new characters. We meet them sure, but the dynamics between them and Constantine is still up in the air, which is an element I wish it successfully accomplished.
Maybe it’s going to be a convention of this new series, but Constantine ends the issue breaking the fourth wall. It’s an interesting element, and allows Oliver to have Constantine admit he’s a bastard, but it seemed out of left field and unnecessary.
Is It Good?
As far as a Rebirth issue the creative team establishes the new direction and reminds us of important details we’ll need to know going forward. That said, this is a skippable issue unless you’re a die hard Constantine fan.