REVIEW: Constantine #2

by

Or – “Can They Make Me Forget About The Hellblazer?”

The first issue of John Constantine’s new ongoing did a lot to assuage the pain of losing Hellblazer after a quarter-decade.  Will #2 keep up the streak?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!


Constantine2CoverCONSTANTINE #2
Writer: Ray Fawkes & Jeff Lemire
Artist: Renato Guedes
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Constantine: This issue begins with a perfect summary of John’s life to date: “Nearly destroyed by its temptations in his youth, John Constantine knows the price of magic’s corrupting influence all too well.  Now, he fights the battle to maintain balance and prevent anyone from becoming too powerful…”  I like that better than anything I have to say…

THE GOOD PART IS, THE TITLE OF THE BOOK IS BETTER…

There’s a certain tone to a good John Constantine story: An almost gleeful joy in playing with forces that are way beyond your ability to control, and an enjoyment of pitting greater beings against one another using little more than misdirection and your attitude.  Lemire and Fawkes have that attitude down pat from the first panel of this issue, and by the time John is battered with the butt of a rifle in Myanmar, I’m once again in a Hellblazer groove.  John’s latest escapades have him trying to gather the pieces of an artifact known as Croydon’s Compass, to the point where other mages have taken notice of him.  This issue serves as the New 52 debut for Mister E, still a mage whose quest for power cost him his sight, though through different means in this reality.  Also worth noting, he is known as “The Southern Gentleman,” and given a very strong fonetick ack-sent reminiscent of Rogue in old-school Chris Claremont X-Men.  John is forced to give up the piece of the compass that he has gathered to E, but gets a moment to pull off a pretty funny joke that you kind of have to read to really appreciate…

HAVE WE SEEN THE NEW 52 SPECTRE BEFORE?

After escaping from the master of The Cold Flame, we’re off to a hidden temple where a giant idol will give him clues through the game board he meets a man who is probably named Corrigan, and a certain spirit that travels with him.  Renato Guedes makes J.C. considerably younger than he was in his last series, but that works perfectly for the more cock-sure, slightly less world-weary character that the writers have crafted, and the issue’s conflict ends in a way that makes perfect sense and upholds John’s air of mystery.  As we wrap things up, Mister E and Sargon have a plan to finally bring Constantine down, and John is headed for the last place he wants to be:  London, where the ghosts of his past (many of them quite literal) await his return.  I especially enjoy the fact that Constantine thinks about what a bad idea it is to head for home, and how there’s no way that a sane person would ever consider doing it, as his plane flies towards the city…

THE BOTTOM LINE: IN MY HEAD, MISTER E SOUNDS LIKE FOGHORN LEGHORN.

Many of DC’s relaunched books take the characters into either strange directions (ala Hawk and Dove) or directions that are a bit too wild (ala Stormwatch.)  This book captures the brilliance of early Hellblazer stories, and even the original Swamp Thing appearances, but also gives us something that feels fresh for the character.  John’s prestidigitization is a bit stronger, to go with his younger vibe, but it all comes together well and reads quite nicely.  Constantine #2 is a great follow-up to #1, keeping the streak going and satisfying me, an old Constantine fanboy, while seeming approachable for those who haven’t been reading his exploits since 1986, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  If you dig a little magic in your adventure stories, this may be a good fit for you…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!


Reader Rating

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