Monday, 11 April 2016

Constantine: The Hellblazer, Volume 1: Going Down Review (Ming Doyle, Riley Rossmo)


Ah, Constantine, a character DC just can’t seem to get right whether in the awful New 52 Jeff Lemire/Ray “Fawkin’ Terrible” Fawkes series or in the short-lived TV show. Well, he’s back in his latest DC You incarnation and this time they’re reinstated the “Hellblazer” into the title. He’s smoking ciggies, he’s bisexual, and he swears - Constantine’s back! 

And to be totally fair to writers Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, they nail his character better than some in recent years. He is one charming, charismatic flirty anti-hero with a convincing devil-may-care swagger and uber-cool attitude. I really liked this dude right away - Constantine really IS back! I thought. He is but the story he’s in is unfortunately pretty shitty. 

A demon is hunting down and killing the ghosts haunting Constantine (ghosts of people he’s wronged) and, for some reason, this bothers Constantine. It also has to do with a girl he fell in love with back in the day and, like everyone else who gets involved with John, ended up in a bad way. Yup, it’s that overused Constantine trope: the past coming back to haunt him. Sigh. 

It’s a really, really dull, slow-moving and meandering story that doesn’t matter or do anything especially interesting besides underline what we already understand about John: he’s a selfish, irresponsible dickhead. And why the fuck is this another DC character presented as a literal rock star - Constantine’s in a band too, like Black Canary?? The “outlaw exorcist despised by both heaven and hell angle” not cool enough? Come on, guys, enough with the naff “rock star” shit. 

Rasputin artist Riley Rossmo draws some excellent issues here but unfortunately, probably because of his Rasputin commitments, only illustrates half the book. Ming Doyle contributes a few pages that are decent but the other two fill-in artists, Vanesa Del Rey and Chris Visions are just awful. Messy, sloppy, hard to look at artwork that is just slathered onto the pages – Visions’ murky, dribbly style hasn’t gotten any better since the even worse Boom comic Dead Letters. 

The relaunched Hellblazer captures the spirit (heh) of John Constantine but places him in a bland, forgettable, and dull story accompanied by some truly horrible art. The subtitle, Going Down, aptly describes my hopes for this series.

Constantine: The Hellblazer, Volume 1: Going Down

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