The official DC synopsis reads:
“The Poison Truth” part three! In Constantine’s world there are old friends, useful friends, dangerous friends…and then there’s Chas, whose screw-up threatens them all.
John’s spinning out of control down a magical wormhole to find someone who can help him solve the mystery of the weird looking twins–while sidekick, best friend, chauffeur, jack of all trades master of none Chas is off to the races! Swamp Thing and Mercury are on a perilous journey to The Rot.
Will John find his way out of the magical drain? Does fortune smile upon Chas at the races? Will Swamp Thing and Mercury survive the deep dark morass that is The Rot? And most importantly, is it good?
The Hellblazer #3 (DC Comics)
We’re out of the gate on panel one and before I’ve even finished reading it Oliver has me laughing out loud. If you’re at all a fan of poking fun at politicians (and by poking fun I mean mercilessly ridiculing them), then this is the panel for you. Oliver’s not-so-thinly veiled opinion of a certain trio of politicians is made nice and shiny Windex clear, while at the same time still remaining relevant to the story.
Constantine finally finds himself on solid ground in the sewers of London after a stomach-emptying trip through who knows what. At the end Constantine’s dizzying trip we’re gifted with the appearance of a character from the Hellblazer universe that hasn’t been seen as of yet in Rebirth, Map: a tube maintenance worker, who also happens to be a mage and draws his power from the city of London itself. Through Map we learn the identity of the things chasing Constantine.
Eons ago before humans there existed the Djinn; yes my friends, Genies and not not the blue friendly Robin Williams type (RIP). The Djinn has their run of the earth until humanity came along, at which time they were banished to some small corner of the universe. This is the first time I can recall a writer using this part of the creation mythos in their story. It’s refreshing and I’m excited to see where and how far Oliver is going to take it.
Which brings us back to our mysterious friend Marid. This is the first issue where we really get a solid look of the caliber of this character, and I’m delighted to say he’s a murdering psychopath! Oliver has done a superb job with Constantine’s first big villain. A lot of bad guys fall flat for me because they’re only that, bad. No substance or no motivation, just a jerk with a hard on for being evil. Oliver hasn’t short changed this character; he’s slowly crafted him as a mysterious figure in the shadows to a very real threat with a substantial motivation for being bad.
Mercury and Swamp Thing have finally arrived at The Rot! I was expecting this to be an exciting panel with Swamp Thing using super plant powers and an ominous, dark scary environment that immediately causes the reader to be worried for the heroes. What I got instead was Swamp Thing parting some vines in the middle of no where and BOOM they’re magically in The Rot. What the hell? Seriously though that’s it?
Although Chas only has two pages in this issue we’re still provided with a picture perfect representation of the dysfunctional relationship that is Chas and Constantine. You would think winning against 500 to 1 odds would be a good thing. Think again my friends.
As with issue #2 Moritat continues to knock it out of the park when it comes to John Constantine’s emotional rollercoaster. Between two pages (14-15) we see an exceptional representation of the ever enigmatic Constantine’s emotional state–masterfully illustrating concern, skepticism, surprise, determination, humor, anger, and fear.
I have to compliment Mortitat for his work on page two, which shows Constantine floating in whatever mystical force is transporting him. You don’t really know what’s going on here and you won’t care because the artwork is simply beautiful.
The cover is John Constantine to a T. All the trademarks are there – Drinking a pint and having a smoke at the pub in his trench coat, all while maintaining an air of mystery. Credit the colorist Andre Szymanowicz, I absolutely loved the contrast he created with only using two basic colors.
My one and only gripe is Moritat’s interpretation of The Rot. Moritat’s style is simple. Let me be clear here – I respect and appreciate that, even if it’s not my favorite. Not every comic book artist needs to provide great detail to give the readers a good visual representation of the story. For instance look at the great Steve Dillion and Jack Kirby. That being said, Moritat’s interpretation of the Rot severely let me down and comes off as just plain lazy.
The first panel we see of Swamp Thing and Mercury in The Rot looks more like The Green than it does The Rot. During Scott Snyder’s run on Swamp Thing when The Rot was established, Yanick Paquette showed us a world of pestilence, decay, death, corpses, horror and ROT. I’m not trying to compare the art styles of Yanick Paquette and Moritat. They’re completely different and each have their own merits. But nothing about Moritat’s interpretation of The Rot says danger to me. Nothing says death, decay, rotting flesh, suffering, horrific monsters!
Swamp Thing and Mercury are walking through a grey/green open plain with absolutely nothing that defines it as The Rot. I felt no concern for their well being, which is the exact opposite of what I’d expect to feel for a good aligned character who finds themselves journeying through The Rot.
Is It Good?
I enjoyed the Constantine dialogue from start to finish. Oliver is doing a great job cementing the characteristics that all Constantine fans expect and new fans to the character will quickly come to appreciate.
My biggest disappointment with this issue is the handling of The Rot. I was expecting so much more from both Oliver and Moritat here. Given how well they’ve handled the rest of the issue, I have high hopes for improvement moving forward.
Theology tells us the Djinn are one of the three sapient creations of God. As with human beings, they can be good, evil, or neutral. Thus as with humans, they possess free will. They were to have been created from smokeless and scorching fire. They’re also immortal, can easily rip a man in half and are powerful to the point that they’ve terrified every member of the supernatural in London. I can’t wait to see where Oliver takes us with Marid.