John Constantine’s past has caught up with him and now he must make a decision in how he is going to solve the problem, and whether or not the solution will cost the life of his friend, Veronica.
The mystery that has been building throughout Constantine: The Hellblazer has finally been solved. The creature lashing out at Constantine and his ghosts is none other than his old friend Veronica, who has fallen into a supernatural void and come out as something monstrous. Constantine searches for answers as to how Veronica came into her current state and if there’s an option to free her.
With a solution in mind, Constantine realizes he lacks the skill to pull the spell off and, sheepishly, turns to the one friend who may be able to help him: Georgiana.
Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV do a fantastic job with building the mood through their text. The description of the affliction affecting Veronica is suitably eerie and really works well with the art. The buildup of atmosphere adds to the horror of the proceedings and aptly shows how deep the split between Veronica and Constantine went. Speaking of Constantine, the characterization is spot-on here. The facade he wears masks the pain and torment he’s going through, realizing just how carelessly he’s hurt his friend, and that inner self-contempt makes him an engaging character.
The use of Georgiana in the book is very nicely done. It emphasizes the fact that she, Veronica, and Constantine were all friends in another time, and seeing them “reunite” in this issue provides an emotional anchor to the action. The Pyrrhic victory is made all the more painful when the reader realizes the way Constantine manipulates Georgiana into doing the dirty work.
Riley Rossmo’s artwork throughout is fantastic. Whether he’s depicting the horrors of the supernatural or simply capturing Constantine’s playful wit, Rossmo’s linework really sells the emotion of the piece to the reader and allows the audience to become engrossed in the story. The layouts by Rossmo and Scott Kowalchuk provide a nice sense of momentum for the issue. As Constantine discovers what happened to Veronica, the layouts become more fractured and scattershot, mirroring Veronica’s own mind as she fell into the void.
Aiding Rossmo is colorist Ivan Plascencia. Plascencia’s palette varies in its levels of saturation and that helps to separate the characters from the background. Constantine and company typically appear with higher levels of saturation which make them livelier, while the more muted backgrounds appear more dour. This helps to emphasize both the vitality of the protagonists and the dourness of the situation. It’s a subtle design element that makes the issue even more successful.
Otherwise a strong and powerful comic, the final page of Constantine: The Hellblazer #5 falls a little flat. The conclusion after the battle with Veronica doesn’t get much room to breathe. Another page and the ultimate resolution between Georgiana and Constantine would have more finality to it. As it stands, the issue feels like it’s lacking a beat or two. There’s a certain expectation from the slow buildup early in the issue that the conclusion would have similar attention paid to its conclusion, but the truncated ending leaves a small dissatisfaction.
Constantine: The Hellblazer #5 is a powerful issue and rewards the buildup of previous issues. Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV not only have a great grasp of John Constantine, but also the skills necessary to build the atmosphere. Rossmo’s art is powerful, able to capture the wide array of emotions in his characters, with a sense of dread and anxiety throughout the issue. Constantine: The Hellblazer #5 demonstrates the series’ ability to balance the supernatural with human emotion, and that duality is what makes the title a fantastic read.