Graphic Novel/Comics Review

Constantine: The Hellblazer Collection

(2005) Steven Seagle and others, Titan Books, 9.99, trdpbk, 168pp, ISBN 1-840-23979-4


Released to coincide with the movie Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves, this volume is something of a 'sampler' for people not familiar with the character (who first appeared in Swamp Thing in the mid-eighties). The book contains the adaptation of the film by Steven T Seagle with art by Ron Randall and Jimmy Palmiotti; cannot say I am impressed. It looks like Reeves will be playing Constantine as Neo, a far cry from a scouser-cum-cockney Sting, and the plot borrows (poorly) from old Hellblazer tales. Someone is attempting to upset the balance of Earth's 'neutrality' (which seems pretty upset to me, considering who some of the characters are) and Constantine gets to sort it out with his "Holy shotgun" (no, I am not kidding; think of Harvey Keitel in From Dusk 'Til Dawn). Despite trying to borrow as many elements as possible from the comic series (for instance, Constantine's cancer) I have to say that if the film is half as much a stinker as this adaptation of it, then it is sure to be a real disappointment to all fans of the series.

Rounding out the book is a reprint of the first ever issue (trying to drum up trade for the collection Original Sins) by Jamie Delano and John Ridgeway; a reprint of issue 41 (the opening of the Dangerous Habits collection) which started Garth Ennis's excellent run on the series, ably aided by Will Simpson; and a reprint of issue 27's tale, "Hold Me", by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (previously uncollected in the Hellblazer trade paperbacks, but available in Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days collection). It's a fairly good intro for new readers, but collectors (especially those who have the above named collections) should get the single issue comics adaptation, if you're a completist, or avoid this altogether. Also out in time to cash in on the movie is the collection Rare Cuts and the graphic novel All His Engines, either one of which is a million times better than this offering.

Tony Chester

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