Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Comic Book Review: Hellblazer #1

Review: Hellblazer #1
Submitted by: Kelly Aliano, PhD, Comics News Editor
24 August 2016

**Spoilers to Follow**

Hellblazer #1 was, without question, my most anticipated Rebirth release.  I am a huge fan of Constantine and have enjoyed all of his recent incarnations—especially the television version—for their interpretations of the character.  This issue is a wonderful nod to what came before, particularly the events that occurred in his post-Convergence ongoing comic, with touches of many of our favorite attributes of John Constantine and his relationships with those around him.

The issue, entitled “The Poison Truth: Part One,” written by Simon Oliver, with Moritat as artist, opens by, unexpectedly, returning us to the dawn of the First World War.  Rather than just seeing the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand play out, the event is prefaced with two men fighting over whether to intervene.  It is the classic time travel narrative: can major historical events be changed in order to improve the world or does interfering in such events create an even larger problem for humanity?

By the time we meet John Constantine the narrative has entirely shifted.  Chas asks him to assist with an anthropomorphized plant (I bet you can all guess who that means!), which reconnects John with his past—and gives him an excuse to flashback so as to provide readers with some exposition on what Constantine has been doing recently.  The story focuses on his relationship with Swamp Thing and a recent quest to find Abby that Constantine agreed to in exchange for Swamp Thing’s help in allowing John to return to London, despite the curse.

This clearly sets up the forward moving action for Constantine, and perhaps some of his former Justice League Dark compatriots, depending on where they travel with the characters’ arc.  What is most interesting, though, is the historical/time travel-framing device.  The comic returns to the two brothers from the first pages at issue’s end, at which point they are attempting to make sense of whether or not they did the right thing, per the wishes of “The
Creator,” back in 1918.  It is a fascinating story on its own and opens exciting questions of how The Hellblazer will fit into this tale.  The Verdict: A great kickoff to one of DC’s coolest characters, one that is reverent of the character’s past while giving him a unique scenario to pursue in his newest title.

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