Writers: Ray Fawkes & Jeff Lemire
Artist: Renato Guedes
Although I have never read any of the Hellblazer series (which I hope to rectify soon), I have been a fan of John Constantine as a character ever since watching the Constantine film. Recently I have acquired the back issues of Justice League Dark, since issue 9, as I have been looking forward to this series.
After his friend Chris finds the location of Croydon's Compass, John Constantine, along with Chris head to Norway to collect it, but nothing ever goes smoothly.
This was a brilliant first issue to this new series, and Ray Fawkes, and Jeff Lemire have done a brilliant job. As I said I haven't read any of Hellblazer, so I don't know how similar it is, but from what I've read about John Constantine as a character this doesn't appear to be too far away from the character, but I may be wrong (having never actually read the series). I have however read Constantine in a few other series, but he didn't appear for too long, so again that doesn't help, but I'll talk more about Constantine as a character later. Besides that I loved how Fawkes, and Lemire handled the whole magic, and mystery in this story, and if JLD is anything like this, it should be brilliant, and as good as people say it is. I also liked how Fawkes, and Lemire handled the character interaction, but again I'll talk more on that later. Overall the writing was good, but not phenomenal, but this issue shows so much promise, and I have every faith that it will be amazingly good.
The art in this was nothing short of phenomenal. I've seen Renato Guedes art in other series like Avengers, Secret Avengers, and Wolverine, but I can't remember it being this good. Everything, and I mean everything is very well detailed, and I can't really fault anything. The way he draws facial features, and expressions is also fantastic, as everything looks so real, and very neat and tidy, with the only rough parts being shading. Even the way he draws the scenery is phenomenal, as every minor detail is perfect, and nothing looks awkward, or imperfect, which isn't easy. I also loved the way he drew all the mystic, and magical stuff that happened in the issue, as it really looked amazing, and made the sequences oozed with excitement. There was however one panel in the comic that was different from the preview, and that was the one showing Sargon the Sorcerer, Zatara, Mister E, and Tannarak. I don't know why this was changed, but I will say that the new art looks better than the preview, and although the characters don't appear as recognizable, they suit the style of series more. Marcelo Maiolo also did a brilliant job with the colouring, as it really helped set the tone of the issue, and it made Guedes art look even better than it does.
As I said earlier I felt that Constantine was handled very well in this issue, and although I may not be the best judge when it comes to comparisons from Hellbazer, I did feel the essential elements that make Constantine who he is, and that's all that really matters. It was nice to see Constantine coming out of a bar about to light a cigarette, as this shows Constantine's addictive habit's. Fair enough this was expected, but it was nice to see, and what I preferred more throughout was that it wasn't made a big deal out of, and you simply saw Constantine smoking every now and then. I also liked how Constantine's characteristics were shown, by the way he treat Chris, as it showed what type of man Constantine is.
The character Chris himself was also interesting. I don't think Chris ever appeared in Hellblazer, or any other comics to feature Constantine over the years, but I still found him an interesting character, and giving this sidekick role to someone that hasn't appeared before gives the writers more creativity. What I liked about Chris as a character was that he was clearly a gifted, and very useful person, but he was also very timid, and not the most adventurous character ever. I also liked the relationship that was shown between Chris and Constantine, as although I already stated that it shows how Constantine treats people, it also showed how people act towards Constantine, and besides that the interaction dialogue wise was well written.
I also talked earlier that the magic, and mystery was handled brilliantly in this issue, and although we only get a taster of it, it was very entertaining, and made for an exciting end to this first issue. I was however slightly disappointed that Constantine didn't put up a fight, as although I don't put it past him to run and live another day, it would have been nice to see him stand his ground. There was however plenty of other things in the issue that made up for this, and although it wasn't the most exciting issue ever, it was a good start, and there were plenty more interesting actions made by Constantine.
The mentions in this issue was also very nice, as besides the mention of Sargon the Sorcerer, Zatara, Mister E, and Tannarak, we also had a mention of who I assume is Papa Midnite (he was just called Papa). This shows that despite this being a new and very different Constantine series, it will have lot's of similarities to the other, and there is bound to be some bits about this series that fans of Hellblazer will enjoy, even if they don't like it as a whole.
A very good start to the series, and Fawkes, and Lemire did an excellent job. Although it wasn't as exciting as some opening issues, it was still very interesting, and showed ton's of potential, and although it may not be as close to the Hellblazer series, I for one am looking forward to seeing what this series has to show.