I’ll just come out and say it, I’m lost.
Admittedly I’m usually following eight books a month and by the time a new Constantine rolls around, I’ve probably forgotten half of what the last one was about, so maybe it’s partly my fault, maybe CONSTANTINE #17 by Ray Fawkes and Edgar Salazar demands greater focus than I’m capable of giving it. But I dunno, I can usually figure out what’s going on in Justice League Dark, and that’s got a big ensemble cast, each with their own bizarre subplots and powers.
I mean let me go over the first few pages here and see if I can make sense of all the dominoes that are being set in place:
- Okay, John Constantine is being exploded and reborn on a beach somewhere and we see him claw his way out of the sea, muscle and skin forming over bone in a pretty cool sequence.
- He’s traveled through time somehow and he’s in WWI Tanzania. That’s a pretty neat concept for an issue. But before anything cool can happen here, there’s a bunch of explaining about stuff. Let’s see here…
- Tannarak cast a spell sold to him by Papa Midnite. The spell is called the Kill Switch. Turns out it was a scam?
- It threw Constantine a few miles west of the Temple of the Cold Flame two weeks to the minute before it’s cast.
- Tannarak and Sargon will be celebrating Constantine’s supposed demise, and then Julia will report for duty, getting close enough to unleash the Spellbinder.
- The Spellbinder is concealed deep within Julia’s unconscious.
- The Spellbinder’s not a spell, it’s a dude, and he’s gonna snap the restraints of the Cold Flame Oath.
- Snapping the restraints of the Cold Flame Oath will kill the fellow members of the cult.
- Then Julia’s gonna be wasted by Sargon, but Constantine subliminal implanted a twitch in Sargon, causing killing spells to backfire.
- Constantine planted this in Sargon while they were boning.
- From there Spellbinder is gonna trap Tannarak in a mind trap.
Look, this is why I decided programming wasn’t for me. Keeping up with a superhero story should not be this hard- oh wait there’s more.
- Sargon will survive the mystic backlash but her concentration will be shot.
- Then Constantine is gonna step out of the shadows and save Julia.
- If Sargon and Tannarak team up they might be able to beat Spellbinder.
- Or so they think, at which point the Spellbinder will claim Tannarak and Sargon, and that could lead to even more trouble.
So now we’ve spent nine of nineteen pages explaining what just happened and what is about to happen and almost no time at all spent on what is happening. But! With that out of the way, we’re ready to get on with the adventures of John Constantine in World War I Africa!
For about four or five pages.
Then Constantine barges in on World War I era Doctor Occult and it’s back to talking about other stuff for three more pages. From there, Constantine is sent to some sort of nether-realm and then back to…
The art is strong as always, and John Constantine is John Constantine, our chain smoking smartass hero. The panels depicting WWI Africa were beautiful, kinda make me long for a John Constantine story set in WWI Africa.
If a kid hid this comic in his trigonometry textbook and read it during class, he wouldn’t know the difference. Even in the scenes where something’s actually happening, it’s happening while Constantine talks about stuff that’s happening somewhere else.
Some nice scenery aside, this isn’t storytelling, it’s bookkeeping. In most comics they draw the word balloons first so they don’t crowd the art, I suspect Edgar Salazar and Taylor Esposito drew the word balloons first so they wouldn’t crowd the other word balloons.