Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Sandman Universe: Hellblazer #1 Review

'Ello Luv

Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Marcio Takara
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: October 30, 2019 
Review by DRon

The last time I read a series with John Constantine attached to the starring role, I left it somewhat abruptly with a bad taste in my mouth. Naturally, I had my reservations when this series was announced. How did the first impression go? Let’s find out.

John finds himself in a place he does not recognize and begins to briefly recount the recent events of the magic war within the pages of Justice League Dark. In fact, as this issue starts it seems that there’s a whole lot of chaos and magical shenanigans going awry. John is concocting a plan to hatch an escape route. Luckily for him, his old mate Chas Chandler is on the job. Chas produces a maggot-infested pig’s head and John begins to get to work. Anxious to get back to his family, Chas’s impatience and overzealousness get the better of him. John tries to warn Chas against it but his half-hearted warning falls on deaf ears. Chas, along with his cab explodes along with the adversarial entity.

Following this confrontation, John Constantine finds himself in a bad way. He begins seeing spirits of those from his troubled past. He is confronted by a younger version of Tim Hunter. John points out to the younger Tim that the older version of him went a little bonkers back in the day. This is perhaps a reference to past events from the New 52 series of Justice League Dark. In whatever case, alternate realities and different versions of characters seem to be blending together like a bad acid trip. It becomes almost too much for our laughing magician to bear.

It is then that John is confronted with yet another alternate version of a character, himself! The older version of John pitches a deal to our beloved anti-hero and John thinks that it’s not a demon he’s dealing with, to which the older John only tells him to take a hard look and that he would know. Our boy, John, doesn’t want to die so he makes the deal and wakes up back at Ravenscar Psychiatric Hospital. 

Even in the psychiatric ward, John is not free from the ghosts of his past. It doesn’t take very long for John to work some mental magic on the weak-psychiatrist and he’s released from that funny farm. John Constantine thumbs a ride to arrive at a cleaner-looking London. He returns to Chas’s residence only to find him not available. In fact, John learns that Chas is a vegetable at the local hospital. He’s dying of cancer from second-hand smoke, perpetrated by John Constantine. Chas verbally blasts John through a few series of panels and John leaves a little emotionally distraught. 

The issue ends with John Constantine coming to the realization of not knowing exactly which alternate Earth that he’s stranded on. The older version of him has seemingly followed him into this world. John is able to ascertain that Tim Hunter holds the key to the answers to all of his many questions.

Somehow, this issue felt like a prelude to an updated version of Crisis On Infinite Earths. It is easy to get things tangled up and leave it a little disorienting. I think this issue is supposed to leave the reader with this impression. The artwork comes across as unique and it fits with some of the tones of the original Hellblazer series. Simon Spurrier seems to have a story to tell here and it shows as this issue did not have me wanting to skip to the end. That is usually a good sign. My only fear is that this may come off as a little convoluted in some parts. 

Bits and Pieces:

If you know your history of John Constantine, then I think we’re in for some interesting times ahead. Regardless, don’t forget to pick up Books of Magic #14 in November before starting this regular series next month.  This has some potential!


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