Ah, c’mon! Who isn’t a fan of John Constantine, everyone’s favourite trench coat-clad, half-magician-half-lying, hellblazer?
Maybe you know him from those mid-1980’s, first-appearance Swamp Thing books, conjured by the mind of acclaimed writer, Alan Moore. Maybe you encountered him in the pages of his own monthly series, written by names like Delano, Ennis, Jenkins, Ellis, Azzarello, Carey, Mina or Diggle. Perhaps you ran into him in that seriously underappreciated film where he kinda looked like a guy who looked like Keanu Reeves who hung out in warm Los Angeles with Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton and Gavin Rossdale, the lead singer of Bush.
If you know him from any of those places, you know that John Constantine, rogue, is truly a hellblazer, actually travelling to that fiery furnace of a place on more than one occasion.
If you didn’t know about Constantine until just now, well, now you know. And here’s the interesting trick – hell? John’s going back…
For the past three years, British writer Peter Milligan has been chronicling the antics of John Constantine in the pages of the protagonist’s monthly series, Vertigo Comics’ longest running tent pole, Hellblazer. It’s in issue #287 that a number of long-standing plot threads come home to roost in part one of “Another Season in Hell”. The title itself is not just homage to the Arthur Rimbaud poem, but a harkening of “Rake at the Gates of Hell” – one of Garth Ennis’ acclaimed storylines that ran within the pages of Hellblazer in the 1990’s.
In this new storyline, we’ve got demons, angels, an upset niece, an angry wife and a sociopathic father-in-law. Of course, John’s in the middle of it all. Also, an old foe returns, you see, and fans of Constantine, especially fans of the Ennis issues of Constantine, will know exactly who that is and what that means.
The rest of you will have to search out spoilers. Or, you know, pick up the book.
The 37-or-so issues under Milligan have been good but they haven’t been my favourite. That spot is reserved for the early Delano run, still my quintessential John Constantine. But Milligan has added an enjoyably strange, energetic, punk rock aesthetic to the lovable rogue – something new to the character that’s been cheating, lying and conniving his way through filthy London streets, bars, bordellos and, a-hem, hell, for over twenty-five publishing years. Quite the achievement. And this issue looks to be something special.
So make the run today and grab Hellblazer #287, the first part of the “Another Season in Hell” storyline. I’m sure copies will be flying – hot – off of the shelves!
Every Wednesday, JP makes the after-work run to his local downtown comic book shop. Comics arrive on Wednesdays you see and JP, fearful that the latest issue will sell out, rushes out to purchase his copy. This regular, weekly column will highlight a particularly interesting release, written in short order, of course, because JP has to get his – before someone else does!