John Constantine: Hellblazer #12 Review

by Nick Devonald on November 24, 2020

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Art: Aaron Campbell
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

The final, oversized, issue of Simon Spurrier’s run on Hellblazer has come around far too swiftly. Each issue has been truly phenomenal, there hasn’t been a single bad egg, and it’s a crying shame that it’s finally over for Spurrier’s take on the character. This has not only rivalled the best Hellblazer runs it’s trumped them, this short but incredible twelve issues has been glorious and outstanding. So if this is to be Spurriers Swan Song with the character can he deliver the goods? Is it possible to deliver a finale that lives up to everything that’s come before and concludes the story in a way that’ll leave readers content, even as they desperately crave more? In a word? Yes. It has everything we’ve come to expect from the main series in the bucketload.

Series finales have a lot to deliver. As the series progresses the expectation and anticipation of the ending build, and far too often the finale doesn’t live up to the promise. Not so here. This will go down in history as the perfect example of how to end a series. The last couple of issues have hinted that the seemingly random and unconnected events of the entire series have all been part of an overarching storyline, connected through more than just Old Man Constantine lurking in the background. The way that these loose and disparate threads are all deftly woven together here to produce a completed storyline is outstanding. The planning that must have gone into this series is incredible, and it shines a different light on previous events, almost begging for a re-read. The unveiling of Old Man Constantine’s plans, and explanation for everything which is going on, will not only blindside the reader but gives certain events a whole new meaning.

We also get a chance to really take a good look at Constantines character. We get to dive deep into his psyche and see what a Bastard he is. How everything he does engulfs him in even more guilt and despair. But he carries on making the tough decisions. Doing the things that need to be done, regardless of the cost. It’s a theme throughout the issue, one of cost, which Spurrier explores in great detail here. The series has taken a really close look at a number of complex themes throughout the series, Spurrier doesn’t shy away from exploring them in an incredibly honest way.

This is one of the most mature comics on the market. It’s a comic aimed squarely at adults, exploring themes that couldn’t be explored elsewhere. And Spurrier understands that a mature comic doesn’t mean nudity and profanity for the sake of it, slapping Black Label onto the cover doesn’t mean suddenly it needs to be ultra violent with every character swearing for the sake of it. The fact that at times it is ultra violent, and Constantine swears like a trooper, and at no point do the team shy away from sex or nudity is because these things are important to the story. The storytelling comes first, and making it a Black Label comic just gives the team the freedom to tell the story in its best way possible. And it’s the storytelling which is mature and aimed at adults. It isn’t the swearing, or the sex, or the violence.

The art has been one of the highlights of the series, Aaron Campbell, alongside Matías Bergara when he’s taken over art duties, has produced some jaw dropping art and this issue doesn’t disappoint. The way that Campbell manages to bring the supernatural to life is unbelievable. It feels otherworldly. Other artists can draw monsters and bring them to life vividly, but Campbells art transcends that and makes the otherworldly come to life on the page. His work has a style all of its own which has become synonymous with Hellblazer. Even the quieter panels where the characters are talking ooze with style and atmosphere.

Jordie Bellaire has managed, throughout the series, to do things with colours that need to be seen to be believed. Pairing her with Campbell is an absolute stroke of genius and makes Hellblazer not only one of the best looking comics out there, but also one of the most unique. Where Campbell manages to make the supernatural feel not of this world, it’s Bellaire’s colours which are the final missing piece.

The final thing to cover is does this finish the story that Spurrier set out to tell? Is Spurriers run all wrapped up in a neat bow, a complete story, nothing more to come? In terms of the overall story it’s complete. From the first appearance in the Sandman Presents issue that storyline is completed and done. The final pages give a hint at a future storyline here. It’ll leave readers wanting to see the creative team of Spurrier, Campbell, Bergara and Bellaire return again to wade deep into the shady world of magic that Constantine wallows in. But it doesn’t leave the bitter taste of a story not complete either. The story of the older John is told. Finished in one of the most satisfactory ways imaginable. So don't fret that this story is incomplete. You’ll get a finished tale.

This isn’t a comic to be on the fence about buying. This is a comic you NEED to get down to your local comic shop and pick up at once. This run of Hellblazer is amongst the best there is, and Spurrier delivers a finale that is perfect. This run of Hellblazer isn’t just amongst the best comics of the year, or the decade, this is an all time great, and this finale is the best of an excellent bunch. The writing, the art, the colours, it’s impossible to imagine a greater creative team coming together or producing a better story. BUY THIS COMIC.

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