Constantine has finally figured out who is behind the “angel” attacks plaguing Peckham Rye. Now all he has to do is solve the problem without losing a limb.
One of the more interesting aspects of this issue is how John seems to approach the loss of human life. John’s never been one to shy away from excusing bloodshed as “acceptable losses” in the fight against darkness, particularly when his own skin is on the line. However, this is a John Constantine who has seen the end of all things, so it appears as though he has a bit more of a respect for the folks around him. In many ways, it feels like Si Spurrier is taking a character that has been around for over three decades and is fleshing John out in ways that feel fresh and relevant to the times.
At the very least, he doesn’t want to see young Noah throw his life away for the gang he’s found himself in. He also tries to talk down the story’s central villain, rather than immediately plot out how to end him. It appears that, for all of his bluster and ego, we’re dealing with a more careful and considered version of Constantine than we’re used to. This is reinforced in very subtle ways throughout the issue, including a fun reveal that involves Noah’s sign language.
Speaking of which, Noah’s use of BSL is splendidly illustrated by Aaron Campbell. It’s clear that a lot of care and research went into crafting these scenes. Again, with a character like John Constantine, you’d almost worry that Noah would be treated as a punchline, but no. Though John makes a related crack about a former lover, Noah’s deafness is never treated as something to be mocked. This is another way in which we’ve seen the progression of Constantine as a character, as well as the genuine affection he has for Noah.
Campbell’s artwork continues to go a long way toward bringing this series in line with the classic Vertigo issues of Hellblazer. Everything feels lived in, from the grimy street corners where the gangs meet up to the cozy flat belonging to John’s new friend, Nat. The details in these environments help ground the otherworldly action of the rest of the book.
Jordie Bellaire’s colors bring it all home, particularly in a few flashback sequences that feel almost bathed in hellfire. It perfectly matches the confused frame of mind that the issue’s antagonist must feel trapped in at all times.
The way in which things tie up feels a bit tidy, particularly involving the aggressive Detective Dole who was recently introduced to the series. Some of the details of the deals struck here are unclear, but that could be by design. This obviously won’t be the last time we see these characters crossing paths, and the callback to their first meeting was amusing.
On another positive note, we also get another brief taste of the machinations of John’s “future” counterpart. It remains to be seen what this fellow’s game is, but he’s clearly further from our John than we thought. This first arc has pulled off some solid work of introducing a new status quo, but also letting us see John in the middle of what he does best.
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