Artist: Lee Garbett
With all the nice things getting said about this series since Jeff Lemire took over writing duties since issue 9, combined with the release of the new Constantine series, I decided to get the back issues of this, and boy am I happy I have. It's been phenomenal, and one of the most unique series I've seen in the New 52, and I'm glad I've given it a try.
John Constantine has traveled to the USA in search of Nick Necro, and meets him, and his partner Zatanna in the Oblivion Bar. Necro takes Constantine under his wing, and the three form a partnership.
This issue out during the Zero Month takes a break from the War for the Books of Magic storyline to give us a story that shows how Constantine met Zatanna, and their mentor Nick Necro. Jeff Lemire once again shows that no matter what the story is that he can write one hell of a story, and this was one of the best issues I've read from the Zero Month. I probably preferred this to most of the other issues in the Zero Month due to knowing less about the characters, as although I've read Zatanna in comics prior, and read up on Constantine prior, I still don't know as much about their origins as opposed to someone like Batman. Anyway I liked how Lemire managed to give us another unique issue, that was very interesting, and exciting. It was also nice that Lemire has managed to play this into the War for the Books of Magic story, as although it's clearly a stand alone story, it does have some elements from that story. I also liked that Lemire explored Constantine, and Zatanna's relationship a bit more in this issue, but I'll talk more about that later. I also liked that this was a more emotional issue, and although it was still dark to a certain extent, it had the characters showing more emotion.
The art wasn't as good in this issue, and Lee Garbett's art isn't as good as Mikel Janin's art. Don't get me wrong the art wasn't bad, it's just that I've been getting used to Janin's art that much that my expectations are higher than other series, and although this was good, I could help but think, "why couldn't Janin be doing the art?" I made a comment in one of my reviews saying that Janin's artwok feels slightly cartoon like, but Garbett's artwork is much more cartoonish, and I really think that it suits this type of story. The detail in Garbett's artwork was also very good, and although it was rougher than Janin's it was still very nice too look at, with a very dynamic feel to it. I also liked the way Garbett drew the characters facial expressions, as they looked very realistic, and at no point looked awkward, and it really helped show the characters emotions. Peter Pantazis' colours were also good, and although I prefer Ulises Arreola who's done the colours for most of this series, I do think that Pantazis' colours suits the cartoon style of Garbett's art more than Arreola's would, making it look even better than it already is.
One of the things I liked straight away was where Constantine found Necro, the Oblivion Bar. It's been the place for magical characters in DC for years, and I was ecstatic to see it again. I also liked that the doorman did the parlor trick on Constantine, were Constantine had to say what was written on the card, which was a nice touch, and it reminded me of a similar sequence in the Constantine film, although I know it's featured in comics before. I was however a bit disappointed that we don't get to see much of the inside of the Oblivion bar, as the only things we see is booths, the doors, and Zatanna on stage, which mean that it could have been anywhere, whereas in previous comics it looked amazing. I do however understand that the lack of interior helps the artist with the detail of his art, and also allows for more character focus.
Necro was a very interesting character, and I liked that he had lots of similarities to Constantine, and I'd expect it considering he's his mentor. Although due to this there isn't much creativity in the core of the character, I still think that Lemire did a brilliant job of introducing him, as despite being a virtual carbon copy of Constantine, his characteristics were totally different. Constantine is more of a con man, who does what he needs to do, but at the end of the day he's loyal to his friends (to a certain extent), whereas Necro appears to be a character that only cares for himself, and although he appears to care for others, in the long run it's to benefit himself. I also liked how we see a different look on Constantine at the start of the issue, and how it shows that the famous brown trench coat, shirt, and tie look comes from Necro.
Zatanna also features in this, and at the start of the issue she's Necro's girlfriend. What I really liked about Zatanna in this issue was the way she was introduced, as it showed her in her more known look, as a stage magician, wearing her trademark top hat, which she's not had in the rest of the series (I think there was an explanation for her no longer having the top hat, but I'm not 100% on what it is). I also liked that you see her characteristics straight from the start, as she's loyal to Necro, and initially both Zatanna, and Necro shrug Constantine off. The issue did however show that there was history between Zatanna, and Constantine, and I really liked this, as we've had little bits here, and there that show that there's something between them, but no proper background.
The only minor thing that i was disappointed in was the relationship between all three characters, Constantine, Necro, and Zatanna. Don't get me wrong the way Lemire wrote it was amazing, it was just that it all happened a bit fast, but for the length it did last, it was brilliant. I won't say too much as to avoid spoilers, but I liked that you could see all the different personalities bashing of one another. I also liked how it panned out, and how it was real emotional throughout, with them all having fun at the start, and then starting to question there relationship later on. Overall it was the emotion that I liked, and it was this that made this issue as good as it was.
Taking time away from the War for the Books of Magic story, this zero issue showed an amazing first meeting between Constantine, and Zatanna, and how they were mentored by Nick Necro. It was a real emotional issue, and it showed how Constantine became what he is. I would recommend it easily, as it was one of the more unique zero issues, and I'd also easily recommend the series as a whole, as it's truly phenomenal.