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Constantine: The Hellblazer #1

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By Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV, Riley Rossmo & Ivan Plascensia

Constantine is one of this reviewer’s favourite characters and it’ll pretty much guarantee that any book featuring him regardless of the writer or artist will be read at some point, and it makes a refreshing return to the world of the master of the dark arts given that his NBC show sadly didn’t make it beyond Season 1. Joining James Tynion IV at the helm of writing is Ming Doyle, and Riley Rossmo handles the pencils with Ivan Plascensia on colours. It’s an interesting creative team that handles the book very well, as we already get a darker feel than the previous book, and an edgier tone, with the very first panel opening with Constantine naked, and covered in blood, standing opposite a shop assistant in a store. He says, “It’s not what it looks like,” but he’s lying, of course. This time, it is.

This is the third series featuring the titular character and it combines the titles of the previous two, Hellblazer and Constantine, into something that should suit fans of both. Constantine: The Hellblazer gets off to an impressive start with the occult detective returning with a bang, and on a high note. Constantine’s sexuality is addressed in the opening issue – this is a bisexual character who’s just as happy to flirt with a married male bartender as he is with a woman, in this case one called Blythe, who has a shared history with John.

Doyle and Tynion IV do an excellent job in making this book accessible to both new and old readers alike, and people who have never read a John Constantine comic before (and if you haven’t, it might be worth reading his Hellblazer stuff anyway) can jump in here fine and understand what’s going on. Tonally it’s very similar to the likes of Gotham By Midnight, and should appeal to fans of that series as the book captures a fantastic atmosphere as well as delivers on an interesting premise that should be fun to watch going forward.

The creative team brings back John’s ghosts in this issue and this kickstarts an ongoing narrative which is great to see because one thing that did annoy me with the NBC show is that there’s so much more to the character than just ‘case/monster of the week’ storylines even if some of them were handled well. Hopefully this approach should be interesting to follow, as it’ll be no doubt fun to see what the creative team have in store for Constantine.

The artwork is excellent. Rasputin fans will be happy to see the combination of Riley Rossmo and Ivan Plascensia with their pencils and colours having a strong matchup for this book. It brings the gritty feel of Constantine’s world to life with a great, dark feel that really make this book right at home with the urban fantasy/horror approach. The character design is certainly an interesting one as well, with Rossmo handling John very well indeed, with not much being put wrong there.

Looks like we’re off to an interesting start, then. Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 hits the ground running with a solid first issue that pleases both newcomers and old fans alike. Thanks to the work of Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV, Riley Rossmo and Ivan Plascensia, readers should get the most out of this issue and will find themselves coming back for more. Recommended.

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