Constantine #1 by Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes, and Renato Guedes
Writer: Jeff Lemire & Ray Fawkes
Artist: Renato Guedes
Release Date: March 20, 2013
Cool, Constantine exists. Maybe that John Constantine / Hawkman team-up will finally happen. I bet John’s got a few one-liners saved up for that one. Maybe by the end he’ll begrudgingly admit that schizophrenic archeologists / alien space cops aren’t always so bad, even if they are fascists skeptical about primitive Earth magic.
Okay, that’s nobody’s idea of the brave or the bold, but it’s confusingly possible now that Constantine has dragged John Constantine back into the normal DC Universe, the one in which he supposedly has “roots” (apparently a few dozen panels 30 years ago constitute “roots”). He’s the same guy, only younger and in New York (because superheroes wait isn’t that another company?) with almost everything interesting that’s ever happened to the character presumably wiped away. This isn’t Vertigo, this is the New 52, so if you don’t like the writer on this book, just wait a day and there’ll be a new one. (Oh wait, that’s already happened with Constantine).
Jeff Lemire plots Constantine alongside Ray Fawkes, who handles the scripts. Fawkes is responsible for the fine graphic novel One Soul, and Lemire’s one of DC’s few reliable regulars, who successfully made the current Animal Man series feel like a Vertigo book despite existing in the same fictional universe as nonsense like Suicide Squad and that Red Hood tripe. So hey, maybe with these two on board Constantine won’t completely ignore what made Hellblazer an occasionally great and surprisingly long-lived comic over the last 25 years.
Constantine #1 doesn’t inspire much hope, though. At first the title character seems like his Sting-looking self, elegantly rumpled and cocksure in a way that’s supposed to be charming. His dialogue rings hollow, though, sounding more like TV banter than the slightly more natural thoughts and conversations found in Hellblazer. Yeah, he’s still an opportunistic ass with legitimate guilt, but his double-cross (uh, spoilers) means nothing because the schlub he double-crosses means nothing. The mystic McGuffin fetch-quest and evil-wizards-as-costumed-supervillains schtick might comfort the cape-first New 52 fans this relaunch is targeting, but it’s a misguided waste of what was perhaps the most fleshed out and (despite the two and a half decades of absurd magical shenanigans) semi-realistic character this company had. But hey, maybe we’ll get some snarky magic vs. science spats between the Atom and a hungover Constantine as they bust an ancient nanoshaman.