Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 review

Oh look, John Constantine's back. The fella who fired magical blasts with Justice League Dark? Gone. The loner who's lucky to hit a massive demonic target with a second-rate spell? That's John Constantine, and he's here, in a relaunched Hellblazer title.  

New readers can happily start here, as writers Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, and artist Riley Rossmo, quickly establish the basics of JC - charming, haunted, unable to catch a break. We join him in the aftermath of some awful encounter, naked and covered in demon brains. He uses minor mind-mangling to persuade a hapless shop worker to let him take a fresh outfit, picks some guy's pocket, flirts with the owner of a diner and is dragged into very dodgy territory by minor demon Blythe. 
Said territory is a house of sin with a Dante's Inferno theme, and it's a great showcase for Rossmo's ability to juxtapose the monstrous and the mundane. Cue manipulation, betrayal, banishment, threats and a teasing of the book's next storyline. 

There's a lot packed into 20 pages but this first chapter doesn't feel crowded, the story doesn't feel rushed. Reading it, I forgot this Constantine is technically the same fella who's been swooning over Zatanna for the last few years. Doyle and Tynion capture the classic Constantine's cynical tone, matching his voice to that of TV Constantine (RIP). There's a wicked sense of humour in this world, a place firmly at a 90 degree angle to the rest of the DCU. 
Rossmo's art complements the script splendidly, being unsettlingly quirky rather than overtly creepy. An early couple of pages showing John harassed by a ghostly entourage is great looking, and fascinating. And I like Rossmo's stippling habits a lot. The only weird thing is the supposedly sharp trousers Rossmo dresses John in, they look to be half mast; maybe they're meant to be tucked into boots, but whatever the case, he looks like a fool. 

Ivan Plascencia's understated colours suit the script, while Tom Napolitano has fun playing with demonic fonts. Add in Rossmo's moody cover - or Doyle's louche variant - and you have a compelling package. Welcome back, John. 


  1. Great review, great issue. I agree about the stippling effect and John's too-skinny pants. I also liked the density of the issue - there was a lot of plot and script squeezed into those 22 pages. Reminds me of comics of the 80s, but in all the good ways.

    1. Thanks very much, Nick. DC are suddenly doing rather a lot right, I'm feeling jolly optimistic!


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