Those of you looking for Hellblazer proper to return, look no further than “Constantine: The Hellblazer” #2. Somehow, against all odds Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV, and Riley Rossmo send life roaring back into DC’s favorite bastard mage. Well, actually the odds were pretty good after issue #1, but issue #2 reads like a fever dream piloted by John Constantine, and that’s exactly what the character’s been missing for years.
Story by: Ming Doyle & James Tynion IV
Art by: Riley Rossmo
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: July 8, 2015
Constantine has been stuck in somewhat of an identity crisis as of late. Ray Fawkes previous run on the series was great but was marred by inconsistent art. Riley Rossmo not only feels like a natural fit for this series but manages to do some brand new things with John’s world.
This month it becomes even clearer than this is a little of a soft reboot for the character. Gary Lester is by John’s side for most of the issue, and by the end things are irrevocably changed for the worse. Doyle and Tynion expose the rougher edges of John’s personality though the people he’s screwed over in the past, and to make things worse push him into more selfish bastard territory than ever before.
Thematically the series captures John’s intimate knowledge of the unknown world and communicates it all at lightning speed. Nothing is lost in translation either, instead the title reads like silk. It holds your hand through Constantine’s over confident narration, only to betray it.
Rossmo builds the world with such massive layering that it’s almost impossible not to linger within his strange layouts. The ghosts, goblins, and monsters of Hellblazer’s world are perfectly realized on these pages and given equal weight against more normal denizens of the universe.
The title doesn’t quite read like the Garth Ennis days of old but ushers in a new era that seems like a great compromise somewhere in the middle ground. Constantine doesn’t feel neutered, and those of you looking for the occult detective to return home will leave with very happy hearts.
It’s almost tempting to call Constantine The Hellblazer fan service, but it never really dips to that level. Instead, it’s a bold new era for the troubled anti-hero that isn’t afraid to challenge what we already know about the character. As a gigantic Constantine fan, I was worried that the series would steer itself toward a more friendly thanks to the loss of its Vertigo branding, but the loss is barely apparent.
Constantine The Hellblazer #2 boldly establishes a new type of antihero that isn’t afraid to wink at the past and challenge the typical confines of the DCU of old. This is a triumph in its own right, but also makes for one hell of a comic book. Hellblazer is officially back, and it’s never felt so good.
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