The Hellblazer #1
Written by: Simon Oliver
Pencils by: Moritat
Inks by: Moritat
Colors by: Moritat and Andre Szymanowicz
Review by Deanna Chapman
DC has made an interesting choice with making The Hellblazer a non-Vertigo title for it’s Rebirth event. Therefore, we get a more tame version of Constantine. While it’s understandable that DC wants to have Constantine appeal to a broader audience, it takes that little something extra away from the character. Skulls replace certain four-letter words. While it’s easy to know what’s really being said, it’s hard to know why it was necessary. It does limit what Oliver and Moritat can do, but it doesn’t affect how well the two can tell a story.
But let’s move onto the actual story in the first part of The Poison Truth. The comic opens in Sarajevo in 1914, where Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serbian Nationalist. Towards the end of the issue, two characters from that opening scene reappear in the present day. They’re older, but clearly 100 years have passed. That’s a hint that there’s more to them than we get to see in this first issue. It’s yet to be seen what their connection to Constantine is.
Constantine’s story line takes up the majority of the book, as it should. Swamp Thing makes an appearance and asks Constantine for a favor. Naturally, this means Constantine wants something in return. In the Rebirth one-shot, there’s a curse he needs to deal with, and that comes into play briefly this issue. They then make their way over to Mercury’s place, where John asks her for help. Moritat does a fantastic job with the facial expressions on the two as they argue. The shift when Mercury sees Swamp Thing is outstanding, which reflects in the writing.
The story flows well since it is all in one chunk. Opening and closing the comic with the seemingly immortal men, leaves some uncertainty about what will happen next. Andre Szymanowicz and Moritat team up on colors to give it that darker feel Constantine has always had, while keeping it within the realm of expectations as a DC title. Oliver keeps the dialogue as witty as you’d expect from Constantine, but less vulgar than he typically is.
Buy. This issue gives you more of an idea of what to expect from the limitations that are put on The Hellblazer by not making it a Vertigo title as they have in the past. If this issue doesn’t sway you, then drop it, but it’s worth a shot. It isn’t as dark or quite the same in the writing department, but that doesn’t mean the story is bad. Plus, with Matt Ryan no longer playing Constantine on The CW, it’s the only current Constantine we’ll be getting. Until Justice League Dark comes out, anyway.