Hellblazer: Rise & Fall #2 Review

by Nick Devonald on November 03, 2020

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Darick Robertson
Colours: Diego Rodriguez
Letters: Deron Bennett

Probably the most frustrating thing about this mini-series is that it doesn’t take into account any of Constantines history. It’s like someone’s read a couple of Hellblazer issues, got a pretty decent idea of the character, and decided to write a story off what little they know. Following on from his appearance at the end of the last issue most of this issue Constantine is joined by Satan himself, good old Lucifer Morningstar. And this is where it all falls apart a little. Constantine has a long and chequered history with Morningstar, and a whole mythology around who rules hell, and none of that is taken into account. It’s like Tom Taylor went hey, this is Constantine, wouldn’t it be great to have him working with the devil?

It’s a real shame then that this isn’t a bad story, but it’s difficult to decide who the intended demographic is. As an introduction to Constantine it’s not bad, but long time fans are going to be put off by the real continuity problems here. And fans of Simon Spurriers incredible run at the moment will be doubly put off. While it’s Black Label it doesn’t cover any particularly mature themes, it’s just that it can be a little bit more violent and graphic than DC’s other content, but it feels like it’s done for the sake of it rather than for any real storytelling reason. Instead of appealing to an older demographic who want a mature story it feels like it’s written for teenagers.

Then there’s the fact that Hellblazer has always been an incredibly British series. By no means does that mean it has to be written by a Brit, but it doesn’t feel British. In the same way that a large part of Spider-Man is Peter Parker and his relationship with New York, it’s the same for Constantine and Britain. A couple of references are made to Leeds, but Leeds could be replaced by any other city over the world and it wouldn’t make a difference to the story.

This mini-series really sums up everything which didn’t work about introducing Constantine into the New 52. DC finally realised that not only does Constantine not belong in the main DC universe, but there are some incredible storytelling opportunities by introducing him into the Sandman universe. Then they’ve decided not to continue that and we end up with stories like this. It seems a petty thing to be concerned about continuity and to make that a large part of the problem but this isn’t the Vertigo John Constantine that readers know and love, it’s some other creation that is Constantine in name alone.

The art from Darick Robertson and Diego Rodriguez is great, and one of the real highlights of the storytelling. It would be great to see the pair of them working on more Constantine stories, only with a better script more suited to the character. Robertson really brings John to life on the page.

The biggest issues that this mini-series have are that it’s Constantine in name alone, and the Black Label has just been tacked on for some extra graphic violence, not for any storytelling reason. Compared to the recent Hellblazer series this falls short. It would have made much more sense to create a new character for this story than use an existing one if all you’re really using is the name and look. The art is stunning throughout, and the length of the story is a bonus. Not a bad story, just a bad Constantine one.

Our Score:


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