With all of the great success that DC Rebirth has had over the last number of weeks, there have been a few series that while not bad, have been a bit slower out of the gate to say the least.
The Hellblazer: Rebirth #1 is one of those slower series for sure.
To clarify, it's not a bad one-shot at all and it does clearly define John Constantine's character as we have all come to know and love him, but there just isn't much action and high stakes involved, or at least it doesn't feel like it.
Some years earlier, Constantine left London at the behest of a demon who wanted him gone and put a curse on him. Now, John has returned home and must immediately deal with the demon threatening him or else the lives of eight million people are done for.
That's pretty much it for the plot. The rest of it is all classic snarky Constantine dialogue and a couple of other scenes that are introduced purely for expositional purposes, including a somewhat confusing scene in the middle regarding Wonder Woman and Shazam being persuaded by Swamp Thing to allow Constantine to play out his plan to deal with the demon, since it does involve the potential deaths of eight million people.
The idea here of course is that Constantine is well ahead of everyone, especially his villains and is confident that his plans will work out, which is where his rampant snark and cocky demeanor comes from. The thing is that while it worked well on the Matt Ryan TV show and even years prior to that in the Keanu Reeves movie, it doesn't have the same effect in this book.
Part of that is because in spite of the artwork style, the demon just isn't threatening or disturbing to look at. He looks like Killer Croc at a Revolutionary War re-enactment, no joke. He talks too much as well, spending too much time taunting Constantine verbally like a Bond villain instead of going about his business of getting what he wants......whatever that is.
The essence of Constantine's character is very much intact though, and fans of the Matt Ryan show will delight in the fact that he's been drawn to those specifications for certain. You can hear Ryan's voice when reading Constantine's lines in the book and it does make the read more appealing.
It's tough for me because Hellblazer is a series that I have never read before and I know it's been primarily a Vertigo title, so I'm really curious to see how this one pans out as part of DC Rebirth, which is mostly focused on superheroes and the like. I won't give up on it after just one issue at all and I'm sure it will get better as it moves on, it just wasn't the most energetic debut for a Rebirth line that has really set the bar pretty high for its titles.
3 out of 5 stars - DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH: The Hellblazer: Rebirth #1
This series is monthly, next issue due out on August 24th.