Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Jesus Merino, Carrie Strachan, Sal Cipriano
Release Date: 27th September 2017
I’ve been pretty vocal about my views on DC’s representation of John Constantine, however the watered-down family friendly New 52 super hero is thankfully not present here. Tim Seeley picked up the writing last issue and so far it seems like a good match, with his horror/mystery background at Image serving him well with Constantine.
It’s back to basics for John here with a mystery he has to solve not because he’s the hero, but because his private parts are on the chopping block. Last issue John woke up with a hangover of vomit on his lips and the remnants of a nightmare that he killed a young teenager, only to discover in his angered drunken state he may have done just that.
This lates chapter picks up John’s search for answers, with a former-lover-turned-chief-inspector fresh on his trail. Seeley has created a story with all the archetypes of a classic Hellblazer tale, reminiscent of the great ‘Haunted’ by Warren Ellis. He gives us a look through the keyhole at John’s punk past to contrast the old bastard he has become and how that character is yet again being used by the dark forces as a means to their own end.
John is left with no choice but to use his luck and head full of spells to claw his way out of it. Through John’s usual sarcastic monologues we see the last thing he wants to do is get involved, let alone delve into his past, but by the end of the issue he turns to face it in a beautifully drawn panel from Jesus Merino which mirrors the final vertigo cover of death and cigarettes.
I get the feeling that Seeley has definitely done his research here. The villains Fjalar and Galar, as well as their background in the comic, are genuine parts of Norse mythology. They did indeed bleed out Kvasir for the mead of poetry John got tanked up on in the last issue. Tying this in with a clear jab at London’s current gentrification of great pubs and gig venues was a master stroke for me.
Merino does a good job, mostly. His John, while polished, still maintains that rotten sod of a mage smirking at his own misfortune with a pain behind the eyes. The ghastly ghouls and blood soaked crime scenes really make your skin crawl, but he does fall into the trap many have before of Americanising London. A minor detail perhaps, but it does detract seeing the wrong shaped buildings or plastic punks with a variation on the same spiked hair. Only a real nag if you’re a regular haunt in rock bars like I am.
Overall, this arc shows a lot of promise, even if it is a little rough around the edges. But then again, so is John Constantine.
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The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
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