- Written by: Tom Taylor
- Art by: Darick Robertson
- Colours by: Diego Rodriguez
- Letterer: Deron Bennett
- Cover by: Darick Robertson & Diego Rodriguez
- Variant Cover by: Lee Bermejo
Before anyone reads this review and judges me for my knowledge on John Constantine, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. I only know the character from his other media appearances in Film, Animation and Television so I certainly wouldn’t say I know the character very well, but from what I do know, I have decided to pick up a book and learn more.
I wanted to pick up ‘Hellblazer Volume 1: Original Sins’ for my first step into reading about the world of John Constantine, but when I checked my local stores they didn’t have it in stock, but one book caught my eye, and it was the latest Hellblazer story published under the DC Black Label brand, and as you may have read before on this blog, I love this new label from DC so I thought it would be a good place to start whilst it was there.
So, please enjoy my review for this, my first ever Hellblazer book.
The story starts with John’s birth, whilst John himself is narrating about the feeling of guilt. With quick pace, the book then shows us a young John developing his earliest stages of the characteristics we know and love about him, as well as giving us a glimpse of his life that might explain why he turned out the way he did.
As a young boy he took two friends down to a river in Liverpool, the River Alt, and smoked a pack of Silk Cut cigarettes that he stole from his father, a filthy habit [smoking] that I now see he started from a young age. John also brought candles and a book of magic in order to try and open the gates of hell. Of course, the young John never thought it would actually work, he was just trying to impress his friends…it didn’t.
The River burst it’s banks due to the heavy rain that night, and the three of them were washed away, almost drowning. Only two of them made it out, John and Aisha, their friend Billy was not so lucky though.
Fast forward some years, and Aisha is with a friend going to get some drinks one night, when they spot an impaled man on a rooftop, naked and sporting some angel wings by the look of it. After an investigation into the John Doe’s death, Aisha and her partner on the force, Gary, visit the morgue for the autopsy reports. When they get there, a mysterious figure in a balaclava makes a run for it, having stolen the angels wings off the corpse.
The suspect may have escaped, but John Constantine appears to re-introduce himself to Aisha after they haven’t been in touch for around ten years. The three of them begin working the case together and John soon realises something, but would not say what it is, deciding instead to run off back home, where he is met by a less than friendly guest.
The art in the book is brilliant, with clear facial expressions and excellent colours to make each page and panel stand out. The designs for the characters ensure that (from what I know) you can recognise who they are if you have seen them in a previous story.
The way the characters are drawn, especially for close ups, you can tell their exact expressions which brings the characters and the story to life, as you can sense their shock, their confusion , their horror and whatever else they feel throughout the story.
Whilst I cant speak as an expert on the character, I can say that whilst there was some confusion for me, since Aisha so casually talks about angels etc. and no part of this story really tells you that she’s gotten used to that kind of lifestyle, it is a good book to start with for character introduction to John. The book shows his birth and a major plot point in his life as a child, as well as giving us a glimpse at his sexuality, as there’s a moment where Aisha tells Gary that John “borrowed her boyfriend” and that “he wasn’t the same when he returned said boyfriend back to her”. We also get an idea of John’s world and his attitude towards it all, but in book one it is just a glimpse. This three-part story should be good enough to help myself and any other new readers of John Constantine, the Hellblazer, to understand what sort of things we are getting ourselves into.