Review: John Constantine: Hellblazer #1

John Constantine: Hellblazer #1

I’ve been intrigued as to how John Constantine’s return to his own series would play out. Now under the “Sandman Universe” label and published under DC Black Label, the character and series seemed to be getting back to its Vertigo roots. John Constantine: Hellblazer #1 delivers a debut that’s a solid horror story, one that’s accessible for new readers.

This debut issue feels like a fresh start in a way. For a new(ish) reader like myself, it’s devoid of years of continuity. Instead, I was able to pick it up to read and enjoy without having to know much about the character or his history. Also missing is the need to know what’s going on with the rest of the “Sandman Universe.”

What we get is a lot of personality before the eventual dive into the occult and his first challenge. The comic is broken up into two parts. The first half focuses on Constantine and his attitude as he hangs out in front of a bar talking to a bouncer. His full quips and personality are on display. By the end, you have a good sense of who he is as a character. It establishes what this version is like and what we can expect. The second half of the comic is the mystery. We’re presented with an issue in a park involving “Angels” that are attacking and killing individuals. Of course, there’s so much more to it.

Writer Simon Spurrier delivers not just Constantine’s personality but that of the comic itself. It’s steeped in a feel that this is a comic that takes place in England. There’s enough specific dialogue that I had to take a step back to figure out what was being said at times. It sucked me into the comic even more.

The art by Aaron Campbell is fantastic. Along with color by Jordie Bellaire and lettering by Aditya Bidikar, the issue is full of moody imagery that dances around its occult and horror genre. As the comic progresses the imagery becomes much more focused on its genre, it’s a slow spiral into the world visually and what’s presented from the beginning to what we see at the end are in contrast. The comic slowly sucks us in instead of throwing the reader directly into this world of the weird.

I never read John Constantine’s adventures in its Vertigo roots. I’ve only experienced him as part of the DC Universe. Whether those adventures are over remains to be seen but this is a solid debut that delivers a horror comic that creeps but doesn’t scare. While the greater Sandman Universe hasn’t been my cup of tea, I’m all in on this series. I’m sure there’s more for long-time fans that I don’t know but as a debut issue, it nails being open to new and old readers alike.

Story: Simon Spurrier Art: Aaron Campbell
Color: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review