The Hellblazer: Rebirth #1 is one of my favorite comics so far in the Rebirth initiative because it’s very well written and very well drawn.
I’ll admit, though almost 40 years old, I have very limited knowledge when it comes to John Constantine. I think my first encounter with him was the 2005 movie. I then got to know him a little in Justice League Dark. And though it wasn’t perfect, I really enjoyed his NBC show. I’ve always meant to go back and read the classic stories, particularly the ones by Ennis and Azzarello. Ah, so much to read, so little time …
This issue worked really well because it cut to the core of Constantine’s character, displayed unusual, interesting art, and also proved to be very well constructed.
Constantine is not really a decent man. He is a master of the dark arts, he’s not particularly nice, he’s rather selfish, he has lots of bad habits pertaining to all kinds of things, and he couldn’t care less about much of anything. I won’t spoil it, but this issue brings all of that to the forefront in an organic way that progresses the story without bopping you atop the head.
Also, Moritat’s art is so beautifully weird. I caught myself studying every panel in this comic book for all the little details peppered throughout, and those pages with throngs of people in the background mesmerized me. I can’t remember the last time I saw an artist depict so many diverse people in a single panel. The art is a little cartoonish, a little creepy, yet magnificently rendered with cool angles, layouts, and, best of all, facial expressions. Maritat is the master of facial expressions.
I think what I enjoyed most about this comic book, though, is the way Oliver constructed it. It’s not a linear story, but, by story’s end, it all makes sense. It hints at things past and things to come, yet it concludes satisfactorily. It is packed with different scenes, characters, and conflicts, but it all feels cohesive and unfolds smoothly. I groaned a little when I flipped through it and saw a few colorful cameos, but Oliver managed to make their appearances interesting and used them to further his characterization of Constantine and even lay down some potential plot threads.
I bought The Hellblazer: Rebirth #1 out of curiosity, and I’m glad I did.