Review – The Hellblazer #19 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artists: Davide Fabbri, Christian Dalla Vecchia, Carrie Strachan, Sal Cipriano
Release Date: 28th February 2018

Tim Seeley continues to cater to my inner “classic” Hellblazer fanboy by brining old school John into the skin of a new DC Constantine.

This latest story links back to an old arc from a few months ago, where our boy John had to clear his name to an old flame now working as a detective for Scotland Yard. After using her as a patsy to lure and kill the dark elves behind his frame job, of course. This issue starts with Detective Ames asking a priest to remove the damage in her life done by John. We’re not given any more information than that, however, because the action shifts straight to John rescuing a tourist from one of the local vampires.

Seeley’s run perfectly highlights one of the main reasons why Constantine has worked so well over the years, it paints a picture of a world that exists alongside our own with the ghosts and ghouls sharing or butting heads with modern culture. This was the case in the Keanu reeves film, the original novels and right up to today. Case in point, this issue features a punk vampire who has a phobia of biting into skin so instead drains his victims with a needle.

After dispatching the vampire in a clever ‘wrong street in Brixton at 3am’ type manner, he is rewarded by the open arms of the rescued damsel. But as John’s monologue for the issue tells us, he can’t help but realise he only has a thing for Magaret Ames. So being the romantic soul that he is John buys her some nice flowers and goes to her place, only to be dragged straight to hell by a name we first heard in Newcastle 30 years ago.

It’s a simple issue that sets the groundwork for potentially so much more. Mostly told from John’s perspective (aside from a few scenes) with him looking back in some of his past simultaneously reflecting what looks like to be a story from Hellblazer past. The character that appears, who I won’t name because it’s such a great reveal, is drawn in the same manner they were 30 years ago in an equally terrifying way. The double page split of hell in the middle of the issue showcases the genuinely off-putting talent of Davide Fabbri by showing how dark DC really can go. As with previous issues, John still has that chilled dirty bastard look and the streets do feel like London.

It’s a great walk down memory lane for old fans and for those who have been following the latest arcs, and beautifully sets the scene for what’s to come by linking it back into the DCU with another well-known superhero being thrown into the mix.

This latest chapter shows us that we don’t always need bullets flying or Batarangs bouncing off body armour to have a good introductory issue. Sometimes just a tease and a reminder of who the main character really is proves to be more than enough to whet a reader’s appetite.

Rating: 5/5.

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The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
Indy Tweets from @smokingpunkindy


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