Check out Our Review [WITH SPOILERS] for Hellblazer REBIRTH #1:  The Devil You Know

During the New 52, John Constantine was yanked out of Vertigo and shoehorned into the DCU. Gone was the Hellblazer fans had spent two decades getting to know. He was replaced by a caricature who walked and talked like Constantine, but spent most of his time pining for Zatanna.

  • Writer:  Simon Oliver
  • Artist:  Moritat

REBIRTH

Hellblazer REBIRTH #1: The Devil You Know
The symbolism!

DC has been trying for years to mainstream Hellblazer with mixed results. First there was the uneven Keanu Reeves movie. Later we got the underrated NBC television series. And, most recently, John Constantine moved into the DCU proper.

None of these attempts captured the dark, perverse, sleazy vibe that made Hellblazer a must read since the Reagan administration. If any character was in need of a REBIRTH, it was Constantine.

Unfortunately, what we get with the Hellblazer REBIRTH issue is more of the same.

[SPOILERS FOLLOW]

The story opens with Constantine battling a demon in London “some years ago.” The demon curses our wayward mage. The curse serves as both the reason for Constantine’s “lost weekend in NYC” (i.e.New 52) and the backbone of the story.

You see, after some time spent in America, Constantine has decided to return home, curse be damned. Yes, the Hellblazer returns to London, picks up some Silk Cuts and a curry at the duty-free, bums a ride from Chas and sets out to undo the curse that has left him on foreign shores. Of course, there is eventually a reference to Newcastle.

They always bring up Newcastle.

If all of this sounds familiar, it should. The creative team delivers a lot of fan service as they return Constantine to his old stomping grounds. Unfortunately, fan service does not a good comic make.

REBIRTH features a generic demon who is outsmarted by Constantine not once, but twice.  The whole story has a “monster of the week” feel to it. There is a deus ex machina psychic who shows up to give Constantine the information he needs to stop the demon and his curse. Readers also get a couple of pages of Wonder Woman, Shazam and Swamp Thing debating Constantine’s relative pros and cons. Those pages don’t serve any purpose at all and really took me out of the story.

And then there’s the art. I’m not familiar with Moritat, but his style is all wrong for Hellblazer. His Constantine looks like a member of the Riverdale gang gone to seed. I want my Hellblazer dark, not cutesy.

Overall, I was disappointed in Hellblazer’s REBIRTH. I can’t, in good conscience, recommend it.

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