Brian Azzarello, John Constantine, Hellblazer: Good Intentions (Vertigo, 2002)
Good Intentions is not only Brian Azzarello's finest work on Hellblazer, it may be the single finest story arc to ever appear either in the comic's covers or under Azzarello's name. If you've not been introduced to John Constantine (except by the rather laughable movie "based" on it), you could either start here and be prepared for a minor letdown with any other book you pick up, or save this one till last. Because Good Intentions will absolutely ruin you. It will have its way with you in the dingy back alley of a nameless slum, dull blade pressed to your neck, and you, God (or whatever deity you believe in) help you, and you will like it. Because Brian Azzarello, and this story arc, are just that good.
Azzarello starts us off with Constantine wandering through some of backwoods America, seemingly just looking to catch up with some old friends, one of whom happens to be an old girlfriend. Standard Hellblazer stuff, right? But things get very, very weird very quickly. And once you've uncovered the true identity of the monster, you're going to feel kind of let down, because, really, it's so cliché. But then you realize there are a few pages left, a bit too long for a standard Hellblazer denouement. And this, folks, is where Brian Azzarello will grab you by the stones and heave. Not just twist, but heave. All the sudden everything's turned on its head, and you look at it all and realize you should've seen it coming all along, and Brian Azzarello has completely outfoxed you, and whoa.
I've read a lot of graphic novels over the past couple of years, and a lot of them have been very, very good. Some of them have been bordering on great. A very few of them have been. Good Intentions borders on great, with quite a few toes over the line. You need this. **** ½