Saturday, June 22, 2013

Constantine #4 Review Or Running the Voodoo down.



In February of 2013 DC comics did something very risky. They cancelled their long running Vertigo imprint title Hellblazer after 25 years and decided to fold the character into the New 52 DCU. The risk lie in the fact that main character John Constantine was known for sex, violence and debauchery none of which DC proper could show in their comics. The result was a book called Constantine, which feels much as you’d expect watered down. However just because their water in your vodka doesn’t mean it can’t get you tipsy, so I took a look at DC’s attempt to recapture the magic.



We begin this story in my favorite place, the middle of things and with one of my favorite characters Papa Midnight, voodoo crime boss of Harlem, getting ready to carve our boy John up with a Machete. Flash back three hours earlier we see John assisting Dotty, one of his many teachers in the art of the slight of hand, with her birds who apparently tell the future. He’s also preparing a convenient plot device/magic charm for use later. She lectures him about visiting those closest to him and not taking time off for himself before he leaves and witness’ a customer cheat a store owner out of money. While at his favorite bar Papa Midnight’s boys come looking for our anti-hero and escort him to their bosses hideout via crowbar beating. As it turns out Johnny stole something from Midnight, which Johnny claims was a service to the crime lord, and we’re right back we’re we started. The last few pages John get’s back into contact with his on again off again girlfriend Zatanna and hints at a coming war between superhero teams in the DCU.


While never an avid reader of Hellblazer I did enjoy some of the stories and generally liked the character of John Constantine. While writers Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes tell a clever story, it lacks the weight of the classic series. John Constantine always had an air of regret clinging to him, this made him as much as a person to pity, as a sad bastard who deserved to feel guilty, and I feel none of that here. I'm not sure if there was an effort to make the character less dark or it just so happened that way, but the authenticity is lost here, and I feel less invested than I did in Hellblazer. I loved seeing Papa Midnight even if he looked more like a super villain and less like a boss, I prefer Mat Johnson's version. Overall, this wasn't a bad issue but don't go into this expecting to feel the same way you did in the good ol' days.


One adjective used to describe John is ‘bastard’ and I feel that Fabiano Neves’ art captures that very well. From his sly bastard grin, to his somber bastard scowl Neves’ art reminds us, at least, visually of the Johnny we once knew. Marcelo Maiolo’s colors however are too bright for a comic featuring this character, which again maybe by design but they’re also off-putting, and I feel someone with a more subdued style like Dave Mccaig could’ve been brought on.

The Real

This is not Hellblazer, and it will never be Hellblazer. However, I can see why DC needed to add their premier magician into the mix of what’s to come. If you’re looking to read a new occult magic comic that’s not too dark and will eventually have superheroes in it, then pick this book up. The rest of you, do yourselves a favor and re-read your old Hellblazer stuff and if you’re looking for something new, Dark Horse has this really awesome series called Hellboy in Hell.
Rating 2.5/5

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