John Constantine has finally returned to his beloved London and quickly settled back into a being a pain in the ass for anyone in his path. But despite all the fun John appears to be having throughout his homecoming thus far–see drinking, smoking and being a jackass, he can’t escape the call of the strange and weird in the DC universe. It’s time to dive in and find out the answer to the ultimate question for issue #2 of The Hellblazer: is it good?
The Hellblazer #2 (DC Comics)
The official DC synopsis reads:
“THE POISON TRUTH” part 2! No one likes rejection—least of all John Constantine. But even if three’s a crowd, he’s going to find a way to get involved in Swamp Thing’s hunt for Abigail Arcane!
Last issue left us with Constantine being assailed by Swamp Thing for help with finding his girlfriend Abigail Arcane, only to have Constantine pawn Swamp Thing off on Mercury, a young psychic from Constantine’s past. So I think the intern writing these synopses for DC needs to do more than skim the comic before putting these together. There’s a lot going on in issue #2 but none of what Constantine gets up to has a thing to do with Swamp Thing.
I’m not personally familiar with Mercury as a comic book character and I’ve had zero exposure to her up until this comic. So I was really pleased when Oliver started this issue with background on Mercury’s beginnings and her link to Constantine. It appears Constantine was at least in part responsible for breaking up the community Mercury grew up in, the Convoy, which would certainly explain the less than friendly interaction between the two in the previous issue.
Scott Synder’s Swamp Thing run is one of my all-time favorite story arcs in comics, period. I’m extremely excited at the possibilities available here with the inclusion of The Rot and Abigail Arcane. My only concern is the absence of Constantine. I hope to see him reconnect with Swamp Thing and Mercury before the journey to the Rot begins.
Oliver had me laughing out loud several times at the back and forth between John and his faithful friend Chas. I particularly enjoyed the moment where Chas thought John was giving him a large sum of money for imposing and quite possibly ruining his marriage, only to have John disappoint him yet again when he’s told to gamble the money on a race horse.
Constantine possesses a seemingly effortless ability to retain Chas’ loyalty, all the while raising the poor guy’s hopes and dashing them moments later. I sincerely hope the dynamic these two have continues throughout this run.
We’re introduced this issue to another character from Constantine’s past, Clarice Sackville. With her comes our first real touch of magic and the occult in the series. She’s sophisticated, powerful and has a soft spot for Constantine. Which is a good thing for him, as she has an extremely dangerous associate with a strong interest in meeting the savior of London.
The cover art for this issue is my favorite piece out of Moritat thus far in his Hellblazer work. Constantine, Mercury and Swamp Thing are all captured perfectly–Constantine looks out at the reader with his trademark devil may care smirk, cigarette and trench coat. The match and smoke trail is a small addition but fits great. Mercury looks young, mysterious, beautiful and quite simply badass. The “Moritat” logo on her motorcycle was a really subtle but nice touch. Swamp Thing in a mess of vines, blood and menace. Swamp Thing first appears in this run is as a floating head and he’s presented as such again on the cover. Funnily enough those are my two favorite drawings of the character thus far.
Through Moritat we get to see Constantine go through a rolodex of emotions in this issue; relief, worry, sarcasm, self-loathing, arrogance, confidence, indifference; the list goes on. The style used to convey Constantine’s emotions is quite simply fantastic. I stated in my review of the first issue that Moritat’s art isn’t my favorite and that’s true. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t incredibly impressed by his work on this issue. My only complaint being Mercury–the first three panels are drawn well but Mercury’s face appears completely different at three different points. I don’t understand this choice.
Is It Good?
I need to say I’m sorry to Simon Oliver for not being more patient with the first issue. My excitement for the return of Hellblazer led to impatience with the setup process. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that great characters don’t just appear out of nowhere, they take time to develop.
This issue does a fantastic job developing the characters and the looming confrontation with the dangerous Marid. Even though there was little to no action throughout the majority of the comic, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from start to finish.