Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Reader's Diary #1310- Jamie Delano (Writer), John Ridgway (Artist): John Constantine Hellblazer / Original Sins

John Constantine's one of those characters who's been in my periphery for some time but I was never inspired to dig further. I came across him first in Neil Gaiman's Sandman stories, but though he's gotten a TV show, a movie, guest appearances in Green Arrow, and all that, I wasn't sure what he was all about nor if I cared to find out. Maybe it's the Marvel Doctor Strange adaptation that led me to finally look into DC's own magic man.

To be sure, this is one of those cases where Marvel and DC should have credit for keeping these two characters about as far apart as they can, except for the whole magic thing of course. If Doctor Strange is Bjork, John Constantine is Springsteen.

Now that I know more about the character, I do like him and his schtick, even if I was less than impressed by Original Sins. The comics did have a cool 50s horror comic vibe and that played well against John Constantine's working man routine. I also appreciated the satire of late 80s Britain (very interesting that the fear of yuppies was almost exactly the same as the fear of gentrification today). However, the stories themselves all seemed to meander and fizzle. Worse than that were Delano's attempts at dark figurative language which merely came across as nonsensical cheese akin to the Simpsons' woodpeckers of mistrust, replacing the woodpeckers with demons.

The art, too, wasn't great. Again, it looked at times like vintage horror comics, which was good, but there was a great inconsistency in characters' looks and the colours were the garish palettes of the 80s.

Still, I do enjoy the Vertigo/DC darker characters. And I know I'm the first nerd to offer DC advice on how to fix their movies, but I think if DC wishes to corner the market on dark movies as a counterpoint to Marvel's fun, than they should embrace characters like John Constantine, the Swamp Thing, Animal Man (at least Jeff Lemire's take on him), and Sandman, rather than try to reinvent Superman (who, quite frankly, seems to be an albatross around their necks).

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