Review: Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #2
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Darick Robertson
Colorist: Diego Rodriguez
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Reviewed by: Alex McDonald
Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #2: John Constantine has been in trouble before, but running afoul of the Devil himself is crossing a line even for the self-styled Hellblazer. But that’s exactly who darkens Constantine’s door with news that John’s investigation into the gruesome “angel murders” of London’s billionaire class and Satan’s own vendetta against a treacherous demon are actually the same mission. What’s that mean? You guessed it: It’s time for a team up!
For fans of Constantine this is a book sure to entertain. While not quite capturing the feel of the Vertigo days this miniseries certainly imitates it. Constantine feels every bit the character readers followed in the 90s. With Darick Robertson’s art this miniseries hits the gritty Liverpool nail right on the head.
Plot wise the story might not be as deep as some of the more notable Hellblazers (Spurrier’s current run unfortunately creating giant shoes to fill) but there’s plenty of classic Constantine beats. Murder, ghosts, spells. It’s all here. What’s great about the issue is the balance of tone. Taylor has a great grasp of humour and specifically the Hellblazer sense of humour.
Things are funny when they should be, and the laughs are appropriately halted when the plot requires reverence. At those times the violence can be shockingly graphic but readers will be quick to remember this is a Black Label book.
It’s really unfortunate that this miniseries is released at the tail end of Spurrier’s hastily cancelled John Constantine: Hellblazer. It’s not that this miniseries is bad by any means, it’s just not the best current Constantine comic.
Despite the extra length of the issue there isn’t enough to justify the extra pages. On top of that the first third is almost exposition that seemingly kills time before the comic begins. At one section the issue appears to remember it’s a Black Label book so incredibly graphic violence takes the reins of the plot for a number of pages.
It’s possible that the violence and ‘action’ of the issue is supposed to shock and surprise the reader but the meandering beginning leaves these sections jarring. At times the violence feels so over the top it’s just there for the sake of it. If more happened in the 48 pages then maybe the scene with a child slitting his wrist would feel more earned. As it stands this is a book of potential that never quite hits the level it needs to.
Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #2 is an irritating comic. Irritating that it gets so close to being great but never manages to pass beyond good. Then again if the bar wasn’t set so high by the other Hellblazer comic right now, would this miniseries be judged so harshly? As a $6.99 comic arguably there should be more to this than there is, but fans of Constantine and the Vertigo days are sure to get a kick out of it nonetheless.