Review: Constantine #21

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Constantine
Issue No. 21
written by Ray Fawkes
illustrated by Jeremy Haun

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What DC Comics wants you to know: With legions of Parademons on the attack, Constantine forges an alliance with Doctor Fate. But as time begins to run out, will they escape Earth-2 – or help destroy it?

My take on it: My distaste for Nu52 John Constantine is not a closely guarded secret. John rubbing shoulders with the rest of the DC Universe has never been my favorite approach to the character, except for the likes of Zatanna, Sandman, Mister E, and the rest of the DC Occult Rabble. Still, I’ve stuck with it and it has had moments that didn’t suck pond water. Fleeting, but you count the little victories when that’s all you have.

That’s all sort of changed of late. Fawkes has writ larger a moral dilemma and placed the reader firmly inside of Constantine’s head. And boy is it powerful stuff. This arc is what one expects from a Constantine book. Capes and cowls and such are fine, but Constantine is about headier things, no?

This one is a gut-wrencher. John sees what his life could have been like had he not been such a nasty piece of work, and he wants a slice of that pie. But when the cards are on the table, John does what John always does: he looks out for himself, plays Fate, and wins the day… sort of. With Constantine, nothing’s easy.

Fawkes has done the near-impossible… he made me miss Hellblazer just a little (a very little) less. It looks like he’s finally wrapping his head around the character and understanding what makes him tick. Of course, Jeremy Haun’s art doesn’t hurt a thing. While I’m not completely sold on his pencil work, his inks make up for it. There’s something dirty about it, gritty and soiled. I wish the colours matched that tone, but all in all, there’s a sense of urgency to the collective art that sells the supernatural side of things.

This is the first time I didn’t feel like I was cheating on Hellblazer by reading this comic. Hopefully the creative team will keep the hellfires burning and we can see John Constantine reascend to the heights (or depths) that his former four colour residence maintained.

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