I’m going to be completely honest. John Constantine has never been one of my favorite characters in the DC Comics universe. He’s never been one of my least favorite characters, either. Constantine has always just been there, sometimes popping up in comic trades that I get at the library. Some appearances are clever and interesting, others are boring and annoying.
In my ongoing quest to get caught up with the DC Comics universe, post New 52 and beyond, I included Justice League Dark on my list because I heard that it had Zatanna, who happened to be a really cool character. I saw that Constantine happened to be in it, along with an advertisement in the back of the trade for some of his collected editions. JLD was pretty good, disregarding some of the crossovers that it tied into. I found those issues to be confusing. After it reintroduced the House Of Secrets and the House Of Mystery into the mix, that was when it became positively delightful.
As for Constantine’s first New 52 series, I am sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy the majority of it. Some of the spells and monsters captured my interest, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. I know that Constantine isn’t meant to be the best of people, but he kept annoying me. A lot of his actions led to really depressing stories, I had no idea who the villains were, and, although this one is petty, it inexplicably annoyed me when Constantine constantly ended various sentences with ‘yeah.’ After I finished that trade, I soldiered on in my quest to get caught up and began reading the series that took place after that, Constantine: The Hellblazer.
Right from the start, I knew that it would be a very different experience. For one, James Tynion IV is one of the co-writers of the series. I love Mr. Tynion’s writing. To me, his work on any of the Batman-related books is superb. From Batman Eternal to the DC Rebirth incarnation of Detective Comics, his writing has never failed to engage me. Secondly, the series takes particular care in humanizing John. I slowly began to feel sorry for him as it shed more light on his past. I realize that the previous series also did this, but it just never emotionally clicked with me. Finally, the tone had a sprinkling of humor to it. Constantine is a jerk, albeit a sympathetic one, and a decent amount of humor can be mined from that.
The supporting characters also help make the comic fun. We have Walter, a demon who wears a suit and tie. In Constantine’s opinion, he is one of the world’s most boring demons, if not the most boring one ever. Next, we have a possible love interest in the form of Oliver, the owner of a cafe. Not only is it cool to see LGBT representation in a comic with Constantine being bisexual, it’s also very refreshing to have a well-written love interest in a comic, despite Oliver having very sparse appearances in the issues I’ve read.
If the previous five issues did not completely convince that the follow-up series would be more enjoyable, then number six absolutely cemented it. The plot revolves around Constantine going around the world to help innocent people with their various magical problems. Basically, he’s an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, cigarette-smoking Doctor Strange and that amuses me. At one point, he’s contacted by a family who needs an exorcist to get a demon out of their child’s body. As soon as John hears the demon, he recognizes him and offers to go get some drinks. The demon instantly obliges, and Constantine walks out, whistling and giving out his bill for services rendered.
Adding to the fun tone, I simply really enjoyed seeing the different kinds of creatures, magic, and mystical ailments. It brings a disturbing sense of whimsy to the comic. Constantine deals with gargoyles, doppelgangers, and dragons. Again, James Tynion IV and Ming Doyle bring some humor to the issue, with Constantine chewing out a family for immediately assuming that their house was haunted instead of calling animal control. With a cigarette in one hand and a furious raccoon in the other, he (hopefully jokingly) threatens to curse it and put it back in the walls. There’s even a shout-out to the popular horror-comedy podcast Welcome To Night Vale, with Constantine having to deal with hooded figures in the dog park. (In this particular instance, he tells them to stop attacking the dogs and just go buy some raw meat at the grocery store.)
So far, the series is an absolutely fabulous mixture of the magical and the mundane. I am pleasantly surprised by how delightful it really is. I’m actually disappointed that I’m almost halfway done with the series. I hope that the DC Rebirth comic will be just as pleasing.
Now that the review is done, I just have one more thing to say. How did you like my comic review? Was it fun to read? Do you want to read more of my reviews? If so, just head on over to Critical Writ! Critical Writ is a feminist, all-inclusive, geeky website run by my friends and I. I’ve been writing various reviews on comic books and Saturday Night Live for the site. Soon enough, I will be doing recaps of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to catch everyone up before the second season arrives on October 21st. What are you waiting for? Go, go, go! As always, have an excellent day.