• September 2016
    S M T W T F S
    « Aug    
     123
    45678910
    11121314151617
    18192021222324
    252627282930  
  • On Facebook

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Comic Blog Elite

    Comic Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

The Hellblazer: Rebirth

hellblazer_rebirth_0001Writer: Simon Oliver
Artist: Moritat
Colorists: Andre Szymanowicz and Moritat
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Cover: Moritat
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 2016
Cover Price: $2.99

It’s kinda hard to believe it at this point, but I’ve been a fan of John Constantine–the Hellblazer–for 15 years now. I was introduced the character barely halfway into his 300-issue run with Vertigo (around #160) and have followed off-and-on ever since, as well as backtracking. With the new editions of the collected volumes combined with what I already had, I have the entire series–and several of the spin-offs–on my shelf (though I still have some reading to catch up yet fully). I checked out Justice League Dark at the dawn of the New 52, specifically for the "DC Universe version" of Constantine (who had just earlier that year been re-introduced into the DCU proper in the Search for Swamp Thing mini during/following Brightest Day). I checked out the first couple issues of last year’s DC You launch, and had previously checked out the first issue or two of the previous Constantine series.

Neither of those overly grabbed me (and having the Vertigo Hellblazer stuff all in collected editions, I was content to pass on single issues for eventual collected volumes) and I was even going to pass on this issue for the moment (It’s part of a bundle I pre-ordered but still have a couple weeks to wait on arriving)…but I have "history" with the character/title, and seeing the "original" Hellblazer logo used here grabbed me enough to "double dip."

And while this is still a John Constantine–a Hellblazer–that IS set in a world in which Shazam and Wonder Woman exist as well, it also references back to key elements of the Vertigo series, establishing that this is a Constantine that has been impacted by those developments, and not just grabbed from his pre-Hellblazer stage.

In short, he’s back.

After an adventure "banished" in the US due to a curse placed on him by a demon, John returns to London, reunites with his best mate Chas, and sets about dealing with the curse. Of course the demon shows up, as well as another figure from Constantine’s past (that I am not sure if I know or not, or SHOULD know, but whatever), and things are dealt with in "typical" Constantine fashion.

The character appears younger here than I recall him from the Vertigo series, yet the visual style "fits" what I’ve grown used to over the last several years’ worth of stuff in the New 52. The art for the issue works well with the story mixing both the rough "darkness" in tone with something that definitely takes place in a world with super-heroes around.

Story-wise, I really very much appreciate things here, that this ‘feels’ like the version of the character I’m used to. Yet, this is not marked as a "mature readers title" nor is it part of a "mature readers line," therefore certain "language" is "bleeped out," but it’s not hard to fill in the blanks in reading…which is a nice compromise and something I have zero problem with. Often, certain things are all the more effective being "implied" than explicit…including language.

This issue seems like a "bridge" issue, moving from the most recent ongoing into this new "post-Rebirth" series that retakes the simpler Hellblazer name and general-ish status quo. As such, it is also very nicely self-contained in a way that seems like it’ll work very nicely for a reader continuing on from the last series as well as a lapsed reader that hasn’t seen the character since the Vertigo run ended…and funnel both sides into August’s ongoing.

That said…this seems a great issue for fans of either version of the character, and instills a definite confidence in me for the ongoing. That I’m not familiar with the writer is fine by me…I’m more interested in reading about the Constantine character than I am in reading _______’s version of the character. This even works as just a random one-off issue where you don’t really have to have read anything recently before, and it has an actual "ending" without pulling a "To Be Continued…" or cliffhanger on the reader.

I definitely recommend the issue, and look forward to the ongoing series…though I’m not 100% "sold" on whether I’ll opt to follow it as single issues or wait for collected volumes. I’ll be happy to–and presently look forward to–the singles as long as I’m getting the bundles, and will take it from there.

Last Week’s Mega-Haul – Week of December 09, 2015

last_weeks_haul_1209fIn the wake of a seeming random 50% off sale that rolled into a “Black Friday Week” sale at the local comic shop (that saw stuff go from 50 to 60 to 70 to 80 to 90% off on successive days, the remnants wound up as “Dollar Table” items.

And as is usually the case, for the price, I was more than willing to buy a few extra things beyond “just” my usual comics for the week…

And consequently, I more than doubled my library of RPG supplement books, while making the “regular” new comics seem prohibitively expensive by comparison, certainly an extremely poor value compared to the bargain table stuff.

last_weeks_haul_1209a

Along with a randomish-ly purchased Munchkin issue (reviewed the other day) and the latest Constantine: The Hellblazer issue, I got a couple other X-Men volumes at cover price…and largely cleared out the gaming books from the bargain table.

last_weeks_haul_1209b

Considering Lensman had a steep sticker price…and was here for “only” $1…absolutely worth checking out. The FantasyCraft volume also looked interesting, and for $1…and its sheer size and being a hardcover? Certainly worth getting. And the D&D book…ditto. Then, of course, would be a shame to pass on the Civil War volume for $1, if I’d ever wind up with the main volume. And for $1 apiece, the Smallville books were a no-brainer…particularly my being on a relative Superman kick of late.

last_weeks_haul_1209c

And then because they were there, and it’s D&D and only $1 so why not?…cleared out the D&D supplement volumes.

last_weeks_haul_1209d

I definitely remembered seeing the Dragon Magazine Annual volume a couple weeks earlier and being mildly curious…an Annual for a magzine, published to fit right in with other supplemental volumes…definitely cool! (I’m a fan of such things!)

last_weeks_haul_1209e

And Eberron is a name I’m familiar with from sometime down the years… and then Menzoberranzan and Dark Sun are both names I’m QUITE familiar with from the Spellfire game from TSR back in the early days of collectible/trading card games.

All told, including the NEW comics, and tax, I paid slightly less than what any ONE of these hardcover supplement volumes would have cost at cover price. This spoils me, though, on the notion of buying additional volumes…but certainly “weights” things toward D&D Fourth Edition over any of the others!

Recent Acquisitions

It’s been an interesting week with several things ‘converging’ for me: a forgotten pre-order item, a purchase substituting for a convention, and my largest single “back issue” purchase ever.

First off, last weekend I happened to to see a link on Facebook to some group called Something Valiant. I clicked through, and found some stuff involving classic Valiant stuff, so did not immediately click away.

I noticed a post offering Harbinger #s 2-5 for a very reasonable price, shipped–and messaged the poster to inquire if they were still available (not seeing any comments on the post). They were, so arrangements were made.

harbinger_90s_2thru5

Easily my biggest “back issue” purchase in this regard–for what I paid for “only” 4 issues. However, considering I’d expected to pay significantly more per issue and not get them all but dropped in my lap from one source, I’m very happy with the purchase, and will certainly reach out to this seller again in the future as I whittle down my “missing” list of classic Valiant.

Another surprise arrival this week was the new Hellblazer volume.

hellblazer_tpb_11

This is the 11th volume in this incarnation of the series, reprinting it from its start including key tie-ins and such, and incorporating a numbering so it’s not just a bunch of random volumes.

hellblazer_tpb_thicknessIt turns out that I apparently had pre-ordered this from Amazon several months ago and forgot about it. So when it showed up, it was a very pleasant surprise.

I continue to be quite impressed with the size of these volumes, particularly for the cover price. Though this would easily be a $40+ volume from Marvel, this one carries a $24.99 cover price…and thanks to Amazon I got it for less than $12.

Though I grouse about Marvel‘s pricing, they make up a significant chunk of my graphic novels collection due to various clearance and blowout sales and such through the years, as well as having a lot of stuff I’m truly interested in.

A couple years ago, I was quite impressed when I came across the X-Men: The Age of Apocalypse Omnibus at Carol and John’s. It was very far out of my price range, though more recently I’d lamented realizing it was out of print, and so had been jacked up astronomically beyond my price range by “third party sellers.” So when I more recently learned of the Age of Apocalypse Companion I didn’t even consider pre-ordering it from anyone…no sense having the companion volume without the main.

age_of_apocalypse_companion_omnibus_01

I was listening to a recent episode of the Collected Comics Library and learned that there’s to be a new printing of the main omnibus in the first part of next year, in time for the new movie. So, rather than beat around the bush and put it off, I found a mostly-reasonable price online and bought this volume, knowing I’ll be able to pair it up in the spring (and for what that’s gonna cost me, I certainly would not want to be trying to buy TWO omnibii nor “risk” this one going out of print!).

Plus, I had decided that I was not going to be attempting to attend a particular convention I had been considering, so with gas money and admission I would not be spending, as well as other random purchases I would not be making…I was able to justify (to myself) this rather large singular purchase.

age_of_apocalypse_companion_omnibus_02

If you look to the right in the photo above, you’ll see a quarter leaned up against the volume–showing just how thick this companion edition is.

And below, it currently has a place on a shelf with the last Omnibus I’d bought, as well as the recent TMNT by IDW hardcover.

tmnt_cap_aoa_hardcovers

Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 [Review]

constantinethehellblazer001Going Down

Writers: Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascensia
Cover: Riley Rossmo
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Group Editor: Brian Cunningham
Assistant Editor: Amedeo Turturro
Editor: Andy Khouri
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 2015
Cover Price: $2.99

I was planning on skipping this. I don’t much care for a watered-down version of the Vertigo/Mature Readers take on the title character, gave up on Justice League Dark early-on for not “starring” Constantine, and generally figured there’s more “history” for the New 52 Constantine than I really care to spend money playing catch-up on. But…this is a #1. New creative team (far as I’m aware), and it’s “only” $2.99. So I figured I’d check it out, give it an issue or so to show me what it’ll be…might as well for the price.

We open on a naked Constantine in a store, using his abilities to “con” a fresh set of clothes out of the employee. When John’s ghost-friends cause a stir, he ultimately finds himself in the company of a female demon who he finds is arranging to have a “soul farm,” so he winds up working the situation to a fairly predictable conclusion through his usual means.

Of course, that “usual” is based on my knowledge of the character from the past, from the original Hellblazer title (that was part of the initial Vertigo line and long anchored the imprint until a couple years ago) moreso than I know of the “mainstream” New 52/DC version.

The art for this issue was a bit off-putting for me when I opened the issue…particularly as I wasn’t even sure the character on the first page was actually John Constantine or not. Granted, I’m not used to seeing the character in the Birthday Suit, and some of the blame probably could be placed on the writing as well, the issue opening as it did. Once things move along a few pages, the art grew on me a bit, to where I’ll accept it much as any other Constantine or Hellblazer artist. Though, with only this single issue, I cannot say I’m likely to count Rossmo among my favorite who’ve worked on the character. However, I can definitely say that I enjoyed a 10-panel double-page spread with a sideways layout…it was different, engaging, effective in conveying so much in that part of the story, and really stood out to me for not just being more of the same.

The story was pretty good overall, and other than the obfuscated colorful language, this really felt like it could be a Vertigo issue. Though we do get left with a cliffhanger, and join the story “in progress” in and of itself the issue does give a “complete” story: We’re introduced to Constantine, his ghost entourage, and see a bit of his personality and nature by his actions, obvious intent, narration, and characters’ commentary. We’re introduced to a particular threat/situation, see his reaction to it, and get a resolution. Then we’re given a question that (ideally) hooks us into coming back for the next issue. Or in short: this is an effective first issue, doing what I would expect of a first issue.

While a first issue is not much to go on, the fact that this issue is devoid of superheroes/superheroics (only a passing mention that they even exist) is a welcome thing. My hope with this title is that it’ll be DC‘s way to have their cake and eat it, too: a solo title featuring John Constantine, BEING John Constantine, without the superheroes’ interaction…just Constantine doing his thing in his own world of sorts. But he’s part of the “main universe,” too, and thus remains available for stories that would call for his brand of involvement. I enjoy seeing him dealing with the superhero crowd…but when I pick up a book starring him, I’m not doing so for superhero stuff.

This title’s “subtitle” of The Hellblazer seems tacked-on and like some afterthought given its size and rather obviously being “just” a font rather than a focused part of the title logo. That strikes me as being a sort of appeasement, like saying “Ok, ok, we get it, y’all want a monthly comic with Hellblazer in the title!” (Granted, I understand the title Hellblazer was only ever initially used because Hellraiser was not available).

As a first issue and not knowing how dark the title may go, how long it’ll last, whether it will cross over directly with and mingle with the superhero stuff…taken by itself I think this is as close as we’re gonna get to a return to the classic Hellblazer book. As a fan of that series, I do recommend giving this a shot. I suspect readers of the recently-ended Constantine will appreciate this as well. And overall–in this day and age of seemingly EVERYTHING being $3.99+, this is a $2.99 book for the moment, so I’d recommend getting this even just to “support” the price point if you’re a single-issue buyer.

I’ll probably be back for the second issue and go from there. For my $2.99 this time, the issue was definitely worth the purchase and read, and my buying any more issues at all will be due to this fact, as I’d had every intention of outright ignoring anything DC put out for the foreseeable future.

New (to me) TPBs to Start December

Along with new comics, this week I scored several bargain volumes:

new_tpbs_first_week_of_december_2014

The Marvel volumes were all 90% off so cost me $1.50 to $2 each…less than HALF the cost of a SINGLE ISSUE.

And the Hellblazer volume I got for $5, less than 1/3 its cover price.

Everything in the photo above for basically the cost of 3 single Marvel issues.

Yet I’m probably most thrilled with the Hellblazer volume as it gets me one book closer to a full run of the Hellblazer trades, outside of the new “complete” editions being published every few months.

Acquiring Critical Mass (and TPB pricing)

Usually, I’m not one for buying a tpb the week it comes out, nor for buying it at a shop instead of waiting to get it on Amazon or some other site or finding it at a used book store.

critical_mass_01

But this volume is a bit of a milestone: it begins the collection of Paul Jenkins‘ run on the title–brand-new-to-collected-format material I have been interested in reading for well over a decade!

critical_mass_02

I’ve been trying to keep up with these new editions, and fully intend a serious re-reading project at some point. Until then, though, I add to the shelf, while removing my older editions to make space for these numbered editions.

critical_mass_03

This volume collects 13 issues, and while not the thickEST of the Hellblazer volumes in this new run, it’s still a very nicely-thick book. The best part is that despite that whopping issue-count…the cover price is STILL ONLY $19.99. And truthfully, I felt the need to buy this one in-store because so few volumes carry such a REASONABLE, respectable ratio of price-and-content.

I’ve no doubt that a Marvel volume of this size/this many issues would be at MINIMUM $34.99 if not $39.99. Of course, for Marvel, that’d be a “mere” $3/issue contained within as opposed to the seeming “standard” of $4-$5/issue contained.

This volume works out to about $1.54/issue…which is LESS THAN COVER PRICE for the individual issues it contains. Truly a benefit of the format, and a large part of what draws me in: the bargain of having en entire story or run of issues in a single volume…at a better price than the single issues. All the more as these issues are from the mid-1990s so nearly 20 years old and (at least in my experience) not the easiest to come by in bargain bins.

critical_mass_on_the_shelf

These new editions are becoming a larger part of my overall Hellblazer library. With many of these replacing 2-3 prior volumes, I’m also liking how the collection is shaping up with the thicker volumes instead of a bunch of skinny little things.

I’d thought this 9th volume wasn’t going to replace anything, but then realized that the first issue of the collection–#84–wraps up the material reprinted in the Hellblazer: Rare Cuts volume. At the time, that volume had stuff that hadn’t previously been reprinted, but it was primarily from the earliest part of the series–and these editions have filled in the gaps that Rare Cuts had tried to fill.

With this volume carrying to #96, I figure volumes 10 & 11 will be completely “new” content to my collection, with Son of Man picking up at #129. With several months between volumes, that won’t be something to worry about until next year sometime.

What’s going to be particularly “interesting” to me is when (if?) these catch up to where I “joined in” around #160/161 or so; or just as much a few issues earlier with the start of Azzarello‘s run.

Updating the Hellblazer Library before Constantine

I virtually NEVER buy collected volumes “in-person,” sticking to single issues for in-person purchases, due to pricing. However, I have been quite highly impressed with the re-issued Hellblazer volumes the last year or two.

hellblazer_new_vol_8_a

This week, I picked up volume 8, which is a rather thick volume, and very certainly physically FEELS like a big book, well worth its cover price. As with the earlier volumes, this one is basically a merging of two of the “original edition” volumes into a single book.

hellblazer_new_vol_8_b

The new Hellblazer vol. 8: Rake at the Gates of Hell contains the issues previously collected as the un-numbered volumes Hellblazer: Damnation’s Flame and Hellblazer: Rake at the Gates of Hell. This volume is rather significant for ME, as the original Damnation’s Flame was the first Hellblazer book I ever read and it–along with a Secret Files and Origins issue–were my initial introduction to the series and the John Constantine character.

hellblazer_new_vol_8_c

Part of the heft of the physicality of the volume seems to be that the paper might be slightly thicker…or somehow less compressed. Even with less covers, this new volume is actually fatter than the two original volumes whose issues this contains.

hellblazer_new_vol_8_d

Now, if I was looking at a Marvel volume collecting this many issues, or simply being this thick, I would certainly expect it to be–at MINIMUM–a $35 book, more likely $40, if not a $50 paperback. But here from DC (well, Vertigo) this is a “mere” $19.99 or to use my above rounding, it’s a $20 book. What makes that EXTRA appealing is looking at the two older editions that I bought over ten years ago.

hellblazer_new_vol_8_e

When I bought Damnation’s Flame back somewhere in 2003 or so, it was $16.95…and as that predated my online ordering and such, I actually paid cover price plus tax at Comic Heaven.

And in 2004 or so when Rake at the Gates of Hell was put out, it was itself $19.95. A $17 book and a $20 book–$37ish total–yet now in this new edition the entirety is only $20.

hellblazer_new_vol_8_f

Given that these new editions are actually NUMBERED and contain extra issues the original volumes did not (the original edition of vol. 1 did not contain the Swamp Thing issues, for example. Vol. 1 now has them so you’re NOT left on some cliffhanger that you have to leave the series of volumes to resolve. And this time through–at least so far, in July 2014–the volumes share a cohesive trade-dress so they actually look like a series.

hellblazer_new_vol_8_g

I’m still missing several of the later volumes of the series, though still filling in those holes, despite the chance that I’ll be double-dipping, “upgrading” to the new editions if the entire series actually gets collected. As-is, vol. 8 takes us up to #83…at this rate, I do imagine we’re looking at an eventual 30 or so volumes if these make it through to the 300th issue; possibly 31-32 if various specials and such get factored in, maybe more if any of the spotlight minis (Lady Constantine, Chaz, Papa Midnight) get mixed in.

The next question is going to be how to “recycle” my old editions. Sell ’em on eBay? Sell them as a lot? Sell them individually? With these new editions, those old ones are technically out of print–so based on the APPARENT “logic” of Amazon 3rd-party resellers, I should probably sell them for about $50-$140 apiece, right*?

(*Actually I’d consider looking toward roughly $10/ea if I could sell ’em all at once, maybe put that into the new editions of Preacher or even Lucifer, with Lucifer having the weight as I already have old editions of Preacher but have yet to read Lucifer at all)..

%d bloggers like this: