RECOMMENDED: "The Hellblazer" (S. Oliver & Moritat)
- by Ninja Ross, 14 November 2016
Poor John Constantine hasn't been doing so well lately. Since the cancellation of the Vertigo Hellblazer series, all we've seen of Constantine is mediocre, watered down stuff. The fact that seriously talented artists and writers have been involved in that has made it all the more depressing. It seemed like nobody had a clue what to do with the character and how he should fit in the main DC universe. Is he the leader of Justice League Dark? A loner drifting around New York? Who the heck knows.
The best thing Constantine can do is palm the job off on somebody else, while he does his thing elsewhere. And this is where Mercury is introduced to the series as a key supporting character.
We've got other supporting characters being reintroduced, including Clarice Sackville and Map, two characters featured heavily in Mike Carey's run on the series. While both are familiar, they're given quite different backgrounds from the original versions.
Clarice isn't the wrinkly old lady from the original series; here she's a much younger woman, but clearly there's more to it than some moisturiser. Map is still connected to the entirety of London and the subway system, but here here's also lost his mind thanks to his power burning him out.
Elsewhere, there's a very mysterious plot developing involving the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and some seemingly immortal fellas! Nobody seems happy in London at the minute, everyone's trying to kill someone.
Simon Oliver has featured here on Trash Mutant before, thanks to his superb Exterminators series from Vertigo. While The Hellblazer does contain aspects of that series, it's still very definitively Hellblazer. Oliver has demonstrated a knowledge of the original series and is using that to write something a bit fresher than what we've seen from the character for a while.
The dialogue is sharp and to the point, rather than cluttering up the page. And when there are moments of lengthy dialogue, it's still on point. And Swamp Thing doesn't have that speech problem he had where... he... always talks... like this. That's distracting and I'm glad he got the speech therapy.
A single named artist! Why do they do that? You need at least two names. How does Moritat fill in surveys or get a loan? Regardless, his art is quite good. His style is bright and defined, with a bit of a cartoon aspect. His style is reminiscent of artists like Frank Quitely and it adds a bit of light to the book, which only enhances the horror aspects of the story.
The Hellblazer is a good start to a new Constantine series, but it is a bit slow to start with. Not to the point where it's problematic, but Issue 3 is where things start to speed up and that's where the pacing evens out. Pick it up! Read it! Put it down when you're finished! Get some fresh air! Make good life decisions! Repeat next month!
It's impossible to talk about Hellblazer without acknowledging the late Steve Dillon, who had a huge impact on the series and on the comic book industry as a whole. His work on Hellblazer is some of the most recognisable in the series and, along with Garth Ennis, he helped make the series as good as it was. And his most recent work on Punisher has been the some of the best he's ever done, so definitely give that a look while you're buying The Hellblazer.
Finally! A great new Hellblazer comic. Go out and get it! And tell us how you liked it in the comments!