Nerd Review: Constantine: The Hellblazer

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Arguably clunky title aside, Constantine: The Hellblazer is one of the best new comic series for newbies and seasoned readers alike to pick up. Co-written by Ming Doyle and James Tynion (art by Riley Rossmo), the new series offers a sense of fun to entice newer readers while also having an edge fans of Hellblazer might have missed since its cancellation.

The main plot of the story thus far is Constantine trying to figure out what has been killing off his ghostly entourage and how to stop it. It’s a compelling story that promises a good payoff. A minor plotline also deals with John’s flirtatious banter with a local restaurant owner named Oliver-a real treat for fans who have wished for John’s bisexuality to be more explored over the years. The ending of the second issue had me practically begging to know what was going to happen next.

Though the dialogue and John’s inner monologue all work well, the way the series deals with cursing can get a little irritating. While John was over at Vertigo he could say whatever he fancied, here the more naughty words get covered up with pentagrams. I don’t blame the creators one bit, but am a little annoyed DC can’t just doesn’t slap a stronger warning on the series and let it be for mature readers only. It’s confusing as to why certain words have to be censored but John can be having sex with a demon in just the next panel.

The series art can also be a potential turn off for some fans but personally speaking I really like it. I love the look of the backgrounds and think Rossmo’s able to capture John’s facial expressions. I also really appreciate the use of bright colors on occasion, from the beautiful two page spread of different levels of hell in the first issue to flashes of spirits haunting a house John’s walking through in the second one. Just because the series deals with horror doesn’t mean it has to look drab. I appreciate any series that’s going for a unique style rather than just sticking to convention.

Fan reaction to DC’s New 52 launch has been a mixed bag-some titles have been well received while others have been used by fans to argue that DC’s relaunch was a mistake. Constantine: The Hellblazer seems like it’s trying to be the best of both worlds: edgier than New 52 Constantine to appeal to bitter Hellblazer fans (a position I entirely sympathize with-by the time I finally got into it and almost caught up to what was currently selling, its cancellation was announced), while also offering less daunting continuity for newer readers and more stories for writers to explore. There series is still in its infancy so there’s no telling where John will end up, but I got enough genuine enjoyment out of it so far to fully recommend it to fellow comic nerds and hope they like it as well.