Constantine: The Hellblazer #13
By Ming Doyle, James Tynion, Eryk Donovan, and Kelly Fitzpatrick
With this being the last issue of this run leading up to Rebirth, the easiest way to start is at the end. John Constantine has just pulled off one of his signature cons to save two little girls and he still manages to destroy a couple lives in the process. Getting here has been a crazy ride that has read and looked very different from most of DC’s main line. Doyle and Tynion brought a Vertigo-like experience to every issue. There is dark humor, disturbing imagery, and a bisexual lead that makes out with demons and walks around New York naked. This book has been unabashedly proud of everything that it puts forward, whether it was the scenarios that John wound up in or the beautiful and, at times, disturbing art.
In this issue alone Doyle and Tynion show us that John had an opportunity to grow as a person, which has been building since he met Oliver at the start of the series. However, because John is a comic book character, changes and growth are often not meant to be. Even with his best efforts an innocent man still gets damned to hell. In the past John has shown that he could care less about the consequences of his actions, but standing there watching with Oliver’s daughters as he is dragged to hell, takes its toll. During that sequence Donoven draws the horror on the faces of Oliver’s helpless friend and family and it has some staying power. Because not only is the terror shown on there faces, but the realization of what is happening, and for John it’s the realization that this is directly because of his actions. A small cast of characters that John has recently encountered throughout the dark corners of the DC Universe show up to repay some favors. With there only being a handful of stories lately that take us to theses darker places these titles are always a welcome change. Getting to see Zatanna, Deadman and Swamp Thing on the same page is definitely visually interesting. It also keeps these characters current and in the mind of readers.
The goal of books that came out of the ‘DC You’ initiative was to change up the looks of things and diversify DC’s main line. Even though its life was short-lived, the thirteen issues that Constantine got out of it were enough for the creators to bring the ‘Hell’ back to Hellblazer and for the artists to depict just that. While the writing team was static the pencils and colors saw different talent stepping in from time to time and then to finish out the run. No matter who was drawing the book, it was consistently and beautifully unique. At the end of the issue John is exactly where we found him: alone. He isolates himself for everyone that he reached out to and even a one that tried to help him.
Whether the baggage of having been unable to save Oliver from condemnation will haunt John or the relationships he has made will carry over into Rebirth has yet to be seen. No matter what happens it probably won’t end well for John or those he decides to bring into his next scheme. Regardless of what’s coming, this has been an excellent run with a well written and beautifully drawn final issue.