I haven’t been into comics for a while, having picked up a couple graphic novels over the past couple years, but by and large ignoring everything else. Earlier this month my kids(neither of whom are reading age) received a couple vouchers for free comics from a local store(Kapow Ltd. in Lethbridge, AB) and I thought I’d take advantage. I settled on a title I recognized, from a graphic novel I picked up at a used bookstore, a movie, and a short-lived television show. I picked up Hellblazer # 1 from DC’s Rebirth line.
The story is mostly exposition, as a first issue essentially should be, book ended by what appears to be the hook for a longer term story arc. It introduces us to John Constantine, who doesn’t swear as much as I remember, but is still the arrogant Englishman we all know and love. While I was expecting a bit more action, I was pleased by the Swamp Thing cameo, and the ongoing plot does look promising. I would say that if you’ve only been exposed to Constantine through the television show or the movie, that you may be a bit disappointed with this issue, as outside the bookends not much happens, merely the what appears to be the wrapping up of a few loose plot threads.
But the bookends… they have me intrigued. We begin with two individuals, one stopping the other from preventing the assassination of a certain Austrian Arch Duke that would have prevented the First World War. The issue ends with the individual that was going to act killing his friend and stating that he would guide humanity in the absence of… well… God? Sorry, it’s been a while. The plot arc does look to have some potential, and without the introduction of it, this would be a bit of a throwaway issue.
How does it look? Well, I enjoyed the look of Swamp Thing, what’s not to love about a giant green talking plant? The rest of the book I found to be a bit… clean. I’ve always pictured Constantine to be in a grittier, darker, and dirtier world, and found the lines to be too clean, and the colours too bright for the feel that Hellblazer could be conveying(most of this is based on the ‘Staring at the Wall’ graphic novel I bought years ago). The art was good, but not great, and is likely to get better as the series progresses.
Is it worth it? For me, yes, yes it is. Of course, keep in mind I picked it up for free. But, if you’re a long time fan, this appears to be a solid bridge issue from one arc to another. If you’re a new fan, this may not have quite enough to hook you. Hopefully this makes it past 13 issues…