PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Comics

John Constantine, Hellblazer

Greg Oleksiuk

Taking John Constantine back to his roots.


John Constantine, Hellblazer

Publisher: DC Comics
Subtitle: Joyride
Contributors: Artist: Leonardo Manco
Price: $14.99
Writer: Andy Diggle
Length: 192
Formats: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781401216511
US publication date: 2008-02
Writer website
cat_label_url
Amazon

Hellblazer is an interesting anomaly in Vertigo's catalogue. It is now in its twentieth year of being published in a time when the most popular Vertigo books last five years, if that long. In that time, John Constantine's adventures have been penned by numerous writers, all of whom have a certain pedigree to them. Yet even with all the talent behind the character, John just has not been living up to his potential for several years. Enter Andy Diggle. What Diggle has done is strip Constantine down to his basic premise and made everything that was old new again.

John Constantine is probably most famous for having been created by legendary comic book writer Alan Moore during his stint on DC Comics' Swamp Thing back in the early 1980's. As legend goes, then artists on the title Stephen R. Bissette and John Totleben told Moore that they wanted to draw a character based on the look of Sting. Thus, England's mischievious warlock was born. Constantine's solo title, Hellblazer has been going strong for twenty years, and in that time, numerous writers have put their stamp on the character, and while some stints are praised and others held in lesser regard, the title itself has never really been as good as it was during Garth Ennis' run on the title in the early 1990's. With Andy Diggle's bare-bones approach to the book, he has taken the character of Constantine back more to his original roots in Moore's Swamp Thing.

This collection consists of three story-arcs. The first sets up Diggle's vision of Constantine's world. The second story-arc shows Constantine getting his "mojo" back, if you will. The reader's first clue as to this is done primarily through visuals. Constantine has usually been depicted as disheveled and scruffy, whereas after his transformation, he is now clean, wearing what appears to be tailored clothes, and white gloves. This look harkens back to how the character was depicted during Moore's days on Swamp Thing. This is what Diggle sees as quintessential Constantine. Forget the down and dirty John that has been in the Hellblazer book since its inception. Diggle transforms him back into what he was -- confident and mysterious at the same time. The third story shows just how badass Constantine has become, and it is where the reader truly starts to see that Diggle has a bigger storyline in mind. Where it will go is at this time, anyone's guess. What is apparent however, is that it would be wise to come along, as this is without a doubt the best the title has been in ages.

Art chores are still held by Leonardo Manco, who has been doing the interior artwork for a few years now. His style suits the book and he does well in depicting this new, more confident and brash Constantine, all the while retaining the horror aspect of the title.

Hellblazer is Vertigo's most resilient title. For twenty years readers have been shocked and scared by the adventures of John Constantine. All the while, however, he has lost a bit of himself, and it took Andy Diggle to bring him back to what he was and make him matter again. This title has garnered a lot of praise within the comics community, even some comparing it to the "back to basics" approach of James Bond's last adventure, Casino Royale. If anything, stripping characters down to their essence seems to be in vogue, particularly for those characters that have been around for a while. It is necessary sometimes to scrape off all of the detritus that has been collected over the years and make "back to basics" as much of a trend as "bigger and better" has been for a while. It's a welcome change, and one that has reinvigorated John Constantine's character. Hellblazer should definitely be a must-read for comic books fans, horror fans or fans of the character himself. The title has never been better, and we have Andy Diggle to thank for that.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.