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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.

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Futures End: Booster Gold #1 [Review]

Futures End Booster Gold #1Pressure Point

Written by: Dan Jurgens
Art by: Moritat, Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund, Will Conrad, Steve Lightle, Stephen Thopson, Mark Irwin, Ron Frenz, Scott Hanna, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund
Colors by: John Kalisz
Letters by: Taylor Esposito
Cover by: Jurgens, Rapmund & Hi-FI
Editor: Joe Cavalieri
Asst. Editor: David Pina
Group Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

[———- Please note: I will spoil this issue’s ending below, denoted by a further note. ———-]

I wasn’t going to cover any of these Futures End one-shots as a singular/full review, but then, that was partially due to the fact that all these others have just been the month’s iteration of an ongoing monthly book. But to the best of my knowledge, Booster Gold has not had an ongoing series since that final issue that tied into Flashpoint pre-New 52; and I haven’t a clue where he wound up via Justice League International and whatnot.

But knowing his creator–Dan Jurgens–was the writer on this issue in that way alone made it a no-brainer for me to pick this up, once I’d given in on getting ANY of these one-shots. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the issue and hadn’t seen anything for it in promotional stuff outside of the title itself. So seeing the cover was a thrill–this is definitely one of my favorite covers of the month. I’ve always loved the blue-and-gold contrast…the pairing of Booster and the Ted Kord Blue Beetle as well as simply the contrast of the two colors against each other. That makes for a striking cover. It’s also great to see the same title logo used as the last ongoing series…it lends an extra bit of recent-nostalgic familiarity to this.

As this isn’t just the month’s “five years later” glimpse of an ongoing character/series, we actually get a look at a Booster bouncing through time/dimensions trying to remember a mission, as we see Booster imprisoned, being interrogated for something…and eventually see that rather than some disjointed story there’s more going on than it seemed initially…and certainly gives me a “selling point” to catch up on and keep up with Futures End.

I was initially put off looking at the issue’s credits seeing a number of artists credited with ranges of pages…couldn’t one person (say, Dan Jurgens himself) do the entire issue? But I almost immediately realized then that hey…multiple worlds/dimensions…different artists lend some variance to the worlds, and contrary to my initial snap-judgment, I quite enjoyed that element here.
Booster himself looked familiar, yet there was something a bit different to the character that I couldn’t place…I vaguely recalled that he’d had a “new” costume in the New 52, so I wasn’t sure where this fit. Thankfully, that actually worked with the story.

After all these years, I really enjoy seeing Jurgens work on the character–particularly the story, but the art as well. There’s also that Booster Gold is one where time-travel is an intrinsic part of the character himself…which adds to the logic of this issue’s existence. Even if the character does not have an ongoing and may or may not (for my ignorance) be a regular part of any ensemble cast of an ongoing book–for anything involving time travel, I’d expect him to be a part of it in some form.

[——————————— Spoilers below ———————————]

By the end of this issue it became apparent that this was not a matter of Booster being imprisoned and the bouncing-through-time-and-worlds-and-dimensions being merely a mind-thing with someone screwing with him to convince him to give up a secret. We’re actually dealing with the New 52 Booster Gold as well as another version…and it seems to me that this other version is either THE pre-52 version or darned close to it. I don’t know where DC officially stands anymore on stuff, but this “hint” that the DC Universe *I* grew up on is still out there is a welcome treat, whether isolated to this title, this issue alone, or something bigger.

[——————————— Spoilers above ———————————]

All in all, like the Swamp Thing issue and the Supergirl issue, I ultimately found this to be an issue independently interesting and engaging (particularly by the ending and the “new view” of the earlier pages it generated for me), and very well worthwhile to have bought and read.

The “hope,” the potential weightiness of this single, short issue’s story…the possibility that I’ve just read a new Dan Jurgens story involving “my” Booster Gold…the attractive cover, the sturdiness of the physical cover…this all lends to the issue justifying itself and the $3.99 cover price (at least in this modern age of lesser-quality physical products for the price). Very definitely one of THE best issues of the month, and one I’d certainly recommend–whether the 3D edition or the standard cover edition.

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