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Before we get started, I must confess that my previous acquaintance with Constantine comes from the 2005 movie with Keanu Reeves (which I liked) and the Vertigo one-shot “Death Talks About Life” where Constantine graciously loans Death a banana/penis. All that to say, I come to Constantine #0 with fresh eyes and little to no expectations – unlike probably the majority of people who picked this comic up last week. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on this demented title.
First of all, it has come to my attention that since Constantine has come to the main DC line that many are disappointed about the lack of cursing, violence etc. since this comic is rated T+ instead of Mature. When I was in my local comic shop, I overheard a conversation where the world “ball-less” was thrown around a bit in conjunction with John Constantine. When looking at the differences between HellBlazer #1 and Constantine #1, it is easy to see that the newer comic definitely has a lighter tone artistically. However, thought Constatine #1 does lack some of the primalness that many associate with John Constantine, his character is still able to come through in spades.
John Constantine is an anti-hero, a not-nice man that happens to battle demons/save the world on a regular basis, but he is not beholden to a moral code. As a blurb in the comic describes him,
“Nearly destroyed by its temptations in his youth, John Constantine knows the price of magic’s corrupting influence all too well. Now he fights the battle to maintain balance and prevent ANYONE from becoming too powerful”
Part of what makes Constantine’s cojones so large is his willingness to take on anything with too much power, regardless of the fact that his power is often miniscule in comparison. Caught in near-death situations against powerful enemies, Constantine will tell them to fuck-off rather than admit defeat.
As previously mentioned, the plot of the first issue showcases Constantine’s attitude. He quickly encounters a character named Chris who is cursed with the occasional vision. The vision that he brings to Constantine is one of a compass, a compass that will lead its user to any magical artifact (a bit like Captain Jack Sparrow’s Compass). Clearly, Constantine needs to keep this artifact out of evil’s hands, which leads to an interesting encounter with a stewardess, and towards the end reveals the enemy that Constantine will be fighting for this story arc.
The enemy is Sargon the Sorceress. Also, Constantine totally sacrifices an entire ice palace and lots of innocent lives to escape said sorceress.
While the fact that Constantine’s placement in the DC line means that his ability to say “fuck-off’ on a regular basis is neutered, the character is far from castrated. The plot of the comic allows Constantine’s character to shine through without relying on images and language that would be considered “mature”. Without giving away any plot-spoilers, let’s just say that Constantine is still willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to get the job done, regardless of the lives of those around him.
While still not as dark as Constantine fans may like, this is only the first issue of the reboot. This Constantine-light book may just serve as a gateway for new readers. It is quite possible that over time we will begin to see more of darkness emerge in Constantine’s character as events unfold, and hopefully the return of fan favorite characters. Overall I think it is still possible to be cautiously hopeful for this title, and wait a few more issues before issuing an ultimate judgement.
By: Kate Reynolds