Review: JOHN CONSTANTINE: HELLBLAZER #5
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Matías Bergara
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Reviewed by: Alex McDonald
John Constantine: Hellblazer #5: John Constantine has just been named the One True Magelord of All England. Please pray for England.
Tommy Willowtree continues to drive John Constantine up the wall but as Constantine will soon discover, there’s a lot more to Mr Willowtree whether he knows it or not.
Yet again Simon Spurrier’s script delivers on the Constantine fans love. Like previous issues, Spurrier manages to juggle the dark tone of urban fantasy with biting satire of hipster culture. Constantine’s wit is constantly entertaining and can distract the reader from the subtly dark story. This then means Spurrier can remove the humour at specific moments to drive home a pivotal plot point. Without spoilers, he does this to great effect at one particular moment in the issue that really lives up to the Black Label branding.
It’s intensely refreshing to read such an adult Constantine again. It reeks of Britishness in a good way (if that is at all possible.) While Constantine is who we all know him to be at this stage, the side characters that Spurrier is introducing all feel real. In fiction the believability of characters is always talked about to an almost silly level these days. But somehow Tommy Willowtree, while being a caricature of hipsters, manages to develop in this issue not just so that he’s believable, but that readers may empathise with him.
This is really the standout aspect of the issue. Spurrier’s ability to introduce such an irritating character. Make him relatable then make readers care. It just goes to show what great writers can do with comics when given the chance.
Artwork wise things continue to be phenomenal. Matías Bergara and Jordie Bellaire work wonderfully in tandem. The messy, cartoonish linework really adds to the pacing and feel of the issue. When artwork can convey how characters feel then half the battle is won. And as ever it’s a joy to read something Jordie Bellaire has coloured.
There really isn’t much to complain about. As with last time, this new series is focussed on what it wants to achieve and does so well. If you’re one of the readers who wants to see John Constantine in huge mystical battles like a Hollywood movie then this probably isn’t for you. It’s hard to believe anyone wants that from a Constantine issue though.
This is another spectacular issue of Constantine. Readers of old and new will love this. Spurrier and Bergara have created something wonderful. It has to be said, during these times, that what little relief and entertainment we can get from real life are more necessary than ever. Is this worth risking going outside to get? Don’t be daft. Is it worth a digital buy, absolutely. In 24 pages, Spurrier and Bergara managed to distract me from what’s going on in the world. At the end of the day, what more can you ask for at a time like this?