Five years gone, most of the DC Universe has changed (and not for the better.) But what of the man called Constantine? Your Major Spoilers review of Constantine: Futures End #1 awaits!
Previously in Constantine: Futures End #1: John Constantine has been a lot of things in his life, but most all of them involve some variant of the phrase “confidence man”. Though possessed of some mystical prowess, his greatest skill is in making people fear him as much as the most powerful mages around. Five years into the future of the DC Universe, how will Constantine have changed to adjust to the strange, new world?
Short answer: Not a whit. The first scene of this issue gives us a quintessential J.C. moment, lighting a cigarette, thinking intently on how he has to play it cool, to keep his nerves from showing, before addressing his latest opponent. “There is NOBODY I’ve wanted to put in the ground as much as YOU”, he intones, before we get a reverse angle to show…
…the empty helmet of Doctor Fate. It’s a pretty cool premise for an issue, taking the tough-guy confrontation trope and focusing it through the lens of one of the guys being a disembodied presence in a shiny hat. Nabu postures as well as Constantine, all while one of John’s friends stands guard outside, forced to fight off hordes of people being compelled to come and find the helmet of Fate and put it on. Their battle crosses dimensional lines, as Constantine calls down an elder god to judge Nabu for his crimes, a moment that becomes the crux of the whole battle, and leads to the issue’s big finish (and big reveal.)
I have to say, I love John Constantine, and I love a story where he gets to do what he does best: Outsmart people with a metaphorical kettle and bit of string, tricking people into believing he’s more talented than he is. This issue is a careful balance, as this future John is still younger and less grizzled than the Constantine who ended Hellblazer only a few short years ago, but he has clearly been affected by the years of war that led to his particular corner of the crapsack future that is ‘Futures End’. Ray Fawkes clearly has an appreciation of where the character came from and where he has been, while updating just enough to make the character fresh again. This is my favorite Hellblazer issue in a very long time, and although it doesn’t do a whole lot to convince me that this is a future world gone mad, it does great work in establishing our lead as someone not to mess with. Juan Ferrreyra’s art is moody and appropriate, and the final shot of Constantine exiting the room stands among his iconic appearances, just in time to launch his career on TV.
THE BOTTOM LINE: “I’M A NASTY PIECE OF WORK, CHIEF. ASK ANYBODY…”
While I’m still not entirely convinced on the necessity of the Futures End gimmick month (or, indeed, even the underlying point thereof), there have been a few strong stories being told in the midst of the chaos, and this is one of them. There are a few references to the greater world, but it’s mostly just the main character in a battle of wills in a locked room, and it’s glorious in its simplicity. Constantine: Futures End #1 is a character study done very well, moody and fraught with mystery, with some excellent art and a nice twist ending, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. More like this, please…