John Constantine: Hellblazer #4 Review

by Nick Devonald on February 26, 2020

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Matías Bergara
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

The first thing which is apparent as soon as you open the comic is that we have a new artist. One whose style is very different to Aaron Campbell. Matías Bergara is taking over art duties for the next couple of issues, then we’re back to series regular Aaron Campbell. When it comes to artists I’m always, probably unfairly, sceptical when there’s a change. I’m glad to say that not only were my fears unfounded Bergara’s art is the perfect fit for the story being told here. It’s very much lighter in tone than the last story arc.

As a general rule Hellblazer is pretty funny but this issue is outright hilarious. Simon Spurrier clearly had fun writing this issue. One of the clear advantages of writing this run as a series of short story arcs means that the Hellblazer team can tell very different stories with very different tones close together. It also means it’s a great jumping on point for new readers as well.

In this issue we meet Tommy Willow-Tree, who has been Constantines replacement in his absence. And I think it’s fair to say he’s the complete polar opposite of John. It wouldn’t surprise me if Spurrier literally wrote a list of Johns qualities, then their total opposite next to them and Tommy Willow-Tree was born. Even the name, Willow-Tree, invokes the character before we’ve had a chance to meet him.

Not only does it make for some hilarious encounters, I won’t spoil anything about Willow-Tree’s magic but it’ll have you in stitches, but it also highlights Johns worst characteristics. Don’t worry though, at no point does Willow-Tree feel like a replacement or even a better John. He’s just as obnoxious, in a totally different way. Spurriers invention of paranomancy is genius.

But Willow-Tree’s presence helps reinforces exactly who John is. I went through my reviewer repertoire of words, anti-hero comes close but isn’t quite right, really the best way to sum John up is he’s a petty shit. But he’s also one of the best guys out there for thwarting evil. And for all his indifferent attitude you know he’ll do the right thing at the end of the day.

Just in case you think this issue is all light-hearted it’s still Constantine. It’s not all good times throughout, the dark force who’s making trouble around London has cast some pretty dark magic. This is someone we’ve already encountered, furthering the mystery around their involvement, and their endgame.

I’ve mentioned Matías Bergara’s art already, but need to mention it really does add to the story. As much as I love Aaron Campbells haunting art it wouldn’t be well suited for this story. Bergara’s art further enhances the differences between Constantine and Willow-Tree and adds extra humour to a lot of the scenes as well.

Having Jordie Bellaire colouring is great as well. It helps add a layer on consistency to the series. We may have a different artists but the colours help ground it.

Brilliant new tone for this two-parter, Simon Spurrier’s writing will have you in stitches, Matías Bergara’s art sets the tone and helps with the humour, and Jordie Bellaire’s colours is the visual glue which holds it all together. A perfect jumping on point for new readers. This run on Hellblazer is definitely shaping up to be one of the best and most memorable. Simon Spurrier was born to write this series.

Our Score:


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