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John Constantine: Hellblazer #5 Review

‘No hugs. Ever.’

After being introduced to the current “Magelord of England,” Tommy Willowtree, we get to learn the origin story of this insufferable hipster sorcerer… Only, John Constantine couldn’t care less.

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This issue continues the unique balance of mystical buffoonery and genuine dark mystery from last month. The creative team does a wonderful job of keeping the issue from feeling like it’s all over the place — even with the decidedly goofier tone of this arc, it still feels like it’s of a piece with the ongoing narrative. Something is rotten in the U.K., with a magical conspiracy that seems to become more twisted with every issue.

Where the issue slightly stumbles is in the middle is when it tries to do even more world-building, introducing readers to some figures of John’s past. The character John speaks to seems like she carries some interesting baggage, but it does feel like almost a step too far for this issue. There’s already so much going on with John and Tommy’s storyline (not to mention whatever Old Man Constantine is up to) that it feels like this could have been saved for another issue on its own. The phone call is incredibly interesting, but it does feel like it could have used a few more pages to decompress.

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Still, the book is bursting with ideas around every turn, which can hardly be called a bad thing. Tommy is a fun foil to John and it’s plain to see that there’s much more depth to him than we were at first led to believe. The same goes for John, who shows a bit more of that conscience he must have started to develop in his old age. Still, it’s also worth remembering that we first saw this iteration of Constantine in the middle of feeding his best friend to demons as a way to buy himself some time. In other words, there’s a sinister edge to even his kindest acts.

Much like in last month’s issue, Matías Bergara illustrates some gnarly, gross creations here. There are a few creatures that return from last issue and are even more disgusting than before. Bergara also creates some harrowing imagery when it comes to Tommy’s “visitor” toward the end of the issue. It’s clear that John’s return to the scene has brought disaster on the heads of those around him, and it’s never been more clear than it is in this issue’s closing moments. Tommy is shown to really be capable of cracking in this issue, much of which comes down to the expressive body language Bergara gives the characters.

It feels like we’re getting even closer to the real confrontation that Si Spurrier and co. have been building toward, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

Is it good?
In its fifth issue, Hellblazer strikes a masterful balance of dark magical action and acerbic British comedy.
The comedy really works, but it also never overshadows the seriousness of the situation
The character physicality and creature designs are wonderfully realized
The connections to the Old Man Constantine mystery are very intriguing, which should have readers anxious to see what's next
The issue's plot feels slightly overstuffed
9
Great
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