I’m pretty much DC’s target audience for this book. I have never read a pre-52 appearance of John Constantine. So seeing him in this series, where he acts pretty much in line with his portrayal in Justice League Dark? It doesn’t bother me at all seeing the character “watered down” like I’ve seen folks saying online. Sure, Constantine seems pretty vanilla, but he’s not offensive to me. This is one instance where the new 52 gave me a nice clean start to try the character. Maybe this is what all those “new readers” felt like when the relaunch happened.
Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes have an interesting pitch for their take on Constantine. It is all about taking from the universe, and hoping that the debt doesn’t come back to bite you. Constantine is a classic anti-hero tough guy. He’s constantly letting folks down, escaping by the skin of his teeth, and lying. But he generally does it for the greater good. He’s a scumbag with a heart of gold, and thanks to his verbose internal monologue, he’s easy to root for. It is easy to see why everyone in his life hates him, but the reader is on his side.
Part of the charm of the rascally rogue is that he has so many dang friends. He’s got allies and acquaintances showing up to give him a hand at nearly every stop along the plot of this trade. And each time, I found myself concerned more for Constantine’s friends than for himself. The writers did an excellent job making it clear who would pay for Constantine’s mistakes. (Here’s a hint, it’s not him.)
There are a lot of classic characters showing up here, mostly turned into villains. The original Sargon the Sorcerer is replaced by his daughter, a cruel murderess who seems like a good potential arch-villain. Mister E makes the most of his time too, another character whose name I recognize but who I have no exposure too. And when the Spectre shows up, he’s the version of the character I recognize; another positive.
Renato Guedes is the most recognizable penciller in the trade, working clearly in the current DC house style. The consistency with the super-heroic line just reinforces the feeling I got from the cover of this FAIR TPB; Constantine is just another super-hero. His powers even look like a Green Lantern’s.