Thursday, November 24, 2016

Comic Book Review: The Hellblazer #4 - John Constantine & Swamp Thing

By: Jerry Montgomery
November 22, 2016

The Hellblazer #4
“The Poison Truth, Pt. 4”

Written by: Simon Oliver
Art by: Moritat

John Constantine. Hellblazer. Occultist. Con man. If you are familiar with the man, the mere mentioning of his name conjures up all kinds of images of the seemingly self preserving, wreckless and fast talking charlatan magician. If you’re not familiar with him, just envision a hard drinking, trench coated Englishman who battles the dark underworld of supernatural beastie and thing that goes bump in the night through his magic and his wit. His methods may seem unconventional most of the time and he’s got a bad habit of losing his friends (when I say lose, I mean die) in the process. He has a lot of powerful acquaintances... its just that none of them trust him a whole heck of a lot.

In “The Poison Truth,  Pt. 4”, the story arc is in full swing as John Constantine is both facing fallout from his fellow magicians for banishing the demon, Nybbas from London, gambling with millions of innocent lives and the arrival of the Swamp Thing to cash in on an owed favor. The Swamp Thing needs Constantine’s help in locating Abby Arcane, now a powerful entity in the Rot, which she is now missing from. Constantine points  him in the direction of Mercury, a powerful young psychic who will aid in the green elemental’s quest. He’s also discovered that a race of pre-human beings, Djinns,  covet man’s rule over the Earth, angry that the creator chose us over them and are plotting to take over the world. Not only does he have these otherwordly forces to contend with but he also has the local jack-booted racist bookie to worry about since winning on a 500 to 1 longshot at the horsetrack!

In the meantime, Swamp Thing has his hands full in the Rot. Mercury has found a possible reason for Abby’s disappearance and goes to investigate,  leaving Swamp Thing alone to wait for her to return. No small feat since the Rot seeks to consume all things that are foreign to it and absorb them. He’s got to stay however if he and Mercury expect to get back to their own plane of existence. By the end of the issue, Mercury must put any reservations about working with Constantine again as it would seem Swamp Thing, Constantine and Mercury will need one another to defeat this new threat to the world.

The Verdict: Having always been a big fan of both Constantine and Swamp Thing since Alan Moore dId the writing on Swamp Thing, I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. It was good to see both characters back together again after reading many pivotal issues in the 80’s and 90’s with them. The artwork is pretty good with some visually striking panels. My only complaint is that the artist, Moritat has the tendency to change up a character’s jawline and face at times, making it difficult to know if the reader is looking at the same person. The story is fun to read with the wise-cracking hero and solid plotline. The setting is London, so if you’re at least not familiar with some of those English quips or sayings, you may be left wondering what is being said. Don’t let that shy you away from this though, it’s a refreshing and entertaining title.

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