JOHN CONSTANTINE: HELLBLAZER #9/ Script by SIMON SPURRIER/ Art by MATIAS BERGARA/ Colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE/ Letters by ADITYA BIDIKAR/ Published by DC BLACK LABEL
Friends, I come before you today on a mission of mercy. I am not here to sing the praises of John Constantine: Hellblazer, though I will gladly do so. I am here to beg and plead for you to buy this book, sign a petition and extend the life of a series that I say, with no sense of hyperbole, is not only the best use of John Constantine in the past decade but the best new series to come out of DC Comics in the past five years.
The original Hellblazer was a fiercely political beast, which took fire at Thatcherism as John Constantine confronted the demons born of Hell and the human heart. Quite often the worst villains in Hellblazer were the ordinary humans profiting off of the suffering of others and the deprivations of corrupt cops and East End gangsters were far worse than anything the First of the Fallen could dream up. John Constantine: Hellblazer was born of the same fire and under Simon Spurrier’s pen has tackled current events with the same since of aplomb.
Case in point: John Constantine: Hellblazer #9 finds ol’ ConJob discussing his latest case with a mystery figure who sought him out. Said case involved a certain member of the Royal Family who had a thing for both racing horses and underage girls, who was approached about breeding a magical horse. Things went odd and, as often happens when these things happen, someone mentioned a bloke named Constantine who dealt with the impossible and occasionally worked miracles.
I shan’t spoil where the story goes from there or the nature of the magic horse in question. Doubtlessly most of you can guess. Even if you couldn’t, the magic of Spurrier’s story lies in how he can tell a story through what isn’t said and it is in tribute to that I will hold my tongue regarding the many brilliant conceits in this story.
I also shan’t praise Spurrier alone for why this comic is so great. While it’s only natural for me, as a writer, to feel a certain kinship with another author, a comic critic who doesn’t discuss the artwork is about as much use as a bicycle to a fish.
Matias Bergara is a fantastic artist, whose light, airy style is well-matched to the script. Bergara also draws horses quite well; a feat I mention purely because I’ve been assured by many of my artists friends that horses are among the most difficult things to draw well. Beyond that, Bergara possess a singular sense of focus, detailing objects in the foreground and inking them more heavily than the backgrounds. This subtly guides the reader to where they are meant to be looking, like a master stage magician. Bergar is ably backed by the color art of the fantastic Jordie Bellaire, who lightens and boldens the palettes as needed to match Bergar’s inks. Finally, Aditya Bidikar does a fantastic job on the lettering and balloon placement.
Sadly, thanks to certain dark powers at AT&T, John Constantine: Hellblazer is on the chopping block despite having barely started. Thankfully, a resistance effort of sorts is underway. So please, for the sake of artful comics that speak truth to power, buy this book. Sign the petition endorsed by no less a personage than Neil Gaiman. Keep buying this book and let DC Comics know that we want this book to stay around a long while. Or to get a new Constantine monthly series with the same creative spirit, since apparently this one is ending with Issue #12 and being given a chance to bring its larger story arc to a close. Just give us more Constantine, please!