September 16, 2015 – This Wednesday Constantine The Hellblazer issue 4 released. The series by writers Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV remains as one of What’cha Reading’s favorite of mainstream comics. While we have always enjoyed the DC Comics exorcist, demonologist, and “petty dabbler” of the mystic arts from the Vertigo series Hellblazer, the New 52 series was somewhat cast aside. Aside from the occasional issue, not much was written of it. That all changed earlier this summer when issue 1 released of Constantine The Hellblazer; issue 4 remains to be just as devilishly fun as the past three issues and is our pick of the week!
The most striking aspect of each issue of Constantine The Hellblazer is just how unapologetic it is about not being a full part of the rest of the DC Universe. Sure, Constantine walks through a world that has a depowered Superman unwittingly a pawn of immortal Vandal Savage’s master plan, a time that has seen Jim Gordon take up the mantle of the Batman, but he’s so far removed from those stories that he almost feels as if he’s not even a part of the larger DC Universe. Admirably, DC Comics has created a slate of titles that are much cleaner and easier for new readers to jump on with, especially with initiatives such as The New 52, Convergence, and DC You. With DC You, there’s more of a focus on titles that reflect the colorful narrative of our own stories and society with an emphasis on characters. John Constantine, a sociopathic, bisexual, con-man as depicted in his series Constantine The Hellblazer is a greater return to form and is easily more in line with Vertigo than with the previous DC Comics run. This is surely why this series has caught on with so many devoted fans and has attracted new ones. There’s a seamless quality between Hellblazer, Constantine on NBC & Arrow, and this new run that makes for an exceptional title to read.
Writers Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV get what Constantine is all about. This is why we get well placed contextual references and nods to Mucus Membrane, Zatanna, and “this gig up Newcastle Way.” Issue 4 feels a part of something grand while not handcuffing itself to the larger and greater mythology of a pretty iconic bad boy in the DC Universe. If you’ve read the Hellblazer comics or graphic novels, you’ll love Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV’s story telling. Maybe you watched the short-lived series and loved Matt Ryan as JC, if so then you’ll find it next to impossible not to hear Ryan’s voice in Constantine’s dialogue. They are a creative team that fans will actively seek out at conventions just to tell them how much they love their work. This is something I fully intend on doing, especially knowing that James Tynion IV will be in attendance at New York Comic Con.
Admittedly, I do miss Riley Rossmo’s interior artwork for Constantine The Hellblazer. It was his artwork that truly attracted me to focus on each page and panel. He gave it this pop-punk vibe that worked in redeveloping the character of John Constantine. At least, Riley Rossmo’s still on the covers! I do enjoy Vanesa Del Rey and Chris Visions work on the interiors and they certainly provide a feeling of uneasiness with all the petty dabbling in demons, hellish characters, and landscapes. Ivan Plascencia’s coloring is absolutely fantastic in the usage of darker tones with the occasional splash of purples, yellows, and reds. The interior art of Constantine The Hellblazer leaves you with a feeling of getting too close to the flames. It’s a sensory feeling that this book deserves to have.
While Constantine The Hellblazer has yet to explicitly involve John with the Devil, I have the feeling that he’s in the details. It would be such a great pairing, especially in the hands of Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV, Vanesa Del Rey, Chris Visions, and Ivan Plascencia. Until then, issue 4 is a must read and is the cornerstone in this first story arc that you do not want to miss.
Constantine The Hellblazer issue 4 gets five stars!