Thursday, February 11, 2016

Constantine: The Hellblazer #9 Review and **SPOILERS**

The City of Dis and Dat

Written By: Ming Doyle & James Tynion IV
Art By: Riley Rossmo, Ivan Plascencia
Letters By: Tom Napolitano
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: February 10, 2016

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

You know what’s unfair? You don’t see any crazy neo-conservative moralistic groups campaigning against Constantine: The Hellblazer. Sure, the knitting club will organize a ten-person boycott of the Olive Garden for a television show called Lucifer, but John Constantine is straight up hanging out in hell, carousing with demons, and the comic gets no hate. It’s inherent blasphemy, not to mention proud sodomy and blatantly making amoral behavior look cool, should put this comic at the top of any concerned parents’ list. I want everyone reading this excerpt right now to go purchase one copy of Constantine: The Hellblazer—for the low price of two dollars and ninety-nine cents!—and expose it someplace conspicuous that an authority figure might see it. Bring it to school and read it during lunch! Roll it up and stick it in your back pocket when you go to church! Because if we can get just one lame unprogressive protest group to zero in on this comic book, sales will skyrocket. It’s a great book, and if you’re not convinced you can read my review!

Explain It!:

I love the way Constantine: The Hellblazer looks so much, I wrote the art team a little poem:

Oh Riley Rossmo
Your art is so bossmo
And Ivan Plascencia
Your colors are intensia

Last issue, yuppie demon Neron caught John Constantine and Papa Midnite trying to sneak into his ultra-exclusive club, which used to be Papa Midnite’s club before it was bought out from under him. Now John and Papa are in the city of Dis, which exists in the sixth through ninth circles of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. It’s basically a really shitty place where souls are bartered and exchanged for no better reason than commerce being the thing that makes cities thrive. John and Midnite aren’t thriving, however, instead they are stripped to their waists and tied with barbed wire to what look like white-hot stakes, while creepy demon jerks slice at them with oversized Wolverine claws. Neron eventually strolls over and explains that because Hell is timeless, they will be tortured for an eternity until they agree to give up their souls, which is really a shitty deal since you know they’re just going to torture that soul for eternity once its host dies. To illustrate, Neron pulls out John’s heart and lets his chest heal so he can do it again later. Neron then helpfully lays out his whole plan: to get every human to sell their souls in exchange for secrets about magic. It’s a pretty stupid plan, but meh, I’ll go with it. Neron is feeling so pleased with himself, he releases John and Papa Midnite so they can have a little chat and to progress the story.

Constantine and Papa look through their cell phones for anyone they know in Hell, but come up empty. Just then, John’s demonic lover that he double-crossed, Blythe, shows up and offers to get them both “top side” if they’ll reach through and pull her back to Earth when they get there. John, in his usual way, says a lot of sarcastic shit but Papa Midnite is grateful and even flirty with the six-eyed Blythe. So begins a little walkabout through Hell, which is more like a seedy London neighborhood than an oppressively searing pit of despair and volcanoes. After some obstacles, the trio gets to the exit door, when it comes to light that Papa Midnite didn’t actually fatally poison Constantine’s boyfriend Oliver in order to get his help, he only pretended to fatally poison Constantine’s boyfriend Oliver in order to get his help! This pisses off John royally, and, despite Papa and Blythe exchanging some words that imply there is something bigger at stake, he storms through the doorway alone and into…a hostile fairy land!

This book is cool, and so different than anything DC has put out in recent years. Indeed, in another life, this could have been a Vertigo title (and, in another life, it was.) But that doesn’t really affect the fact that it’s a heck of a lot of fun to read and great to look at. I don’t mean to seem like I am attacking the writing acumen of Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, they do a great job with pacing and dialogue, without too many long-winded scenes of exposition. But whew, that art! It’s fairly well worth the price of admission alone.

Bits and Pieces

The characterization of John Constantine is fantastic and his Lethal Weapon routine with Papa Midnite is wonderful. This is a really enjoyable, well-paced comic book that should have fans of DC’s creepier side flocking. The artwork alone—oh the artwork! Minstrels should be singing its praises o’er the countryside, waving linen prints of the splash pages like fluttering flags, beckoning children, squealing with laughter and grasping reflexively with their pudgy little fingers, to run behind and follow this art where it may go.


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