The stories running through issues #7-12 of DC Comics’ New 52 series ‘Constantine’ are collected as Constantine Vol. 2: Blight (The New 52). Unfortunately, not all the story is collected here, which considering that the bits that are are good enough to still get the collection 4 stars tells you how great it might have been. I would seriously recommend waiting for the Forever Evil: Blight TP (The New 52) collection before reading this volume, which collects the last four issues in this six-issue collection, along with Justice League Dark #24-29, Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger #14-17 and Trinity of Sin: Pandora #6-9. I read library copies of these books, so I don’t directly spend money on them, but eve so I am really annoyed at DC continually reprinting parts of crossover series in the individual titles along with one or two issues of the non-crossover stories, when (as in this case) they could have put the non-crossover ones in the previous volume and left the crossover issues in their own collection.
Anyway, back to the plot. The first two issues see the conclusion of the Cult of the Cold Flame storyline, in which John Constantine is finally defeated. No, really. However… before he can pick himself up again, the concluding events of the Justice League Trinity War HC (The New 52) (Justice League (DC Comics)) attract his attention, and the next four issues are part of the Blight crossover, in which we discover that most of the world’s mystics have disappeared thanks to the Crime Syndicate, and John has to cobble together a new Justice League Dark from a few survivors, including the Phantom Stranger, Pandora, Swamp Thing, the Nightmare Nurse, and later in the story, Deadman. Eventually, they discover that there is a mystical force that has pursued the Crime Syndicate here from their world, and the missing mystics are tied into a weapon designed to stop said force. We don’t see how the story starts or ends here, but along the way, we get to visit Heaven, see Constantine give the Dog a telling off, and have a return bout with a very old friend, who wants (and gets) his coat back. (See the secret origin of the trenchcoat in issue #0 of Justice League Dark, reprinted in Justice League Dark Volume 2: The Books of Magic (The New 52).)
Despite only seeing slices of a story that takes up 24 crossover issues, it is impressive enough for me to give the collection 4 stars. Let’s hope the full collection does not disappoint us.
In my review of the first volume of this series, I said that it felt like we were seeing the surface of John Constantine, but without the depth of the original character. This volume shows us Constantine emerging as a “Sorcerer Supreme” sort of character, as he comes out from the shadows where he used to operate, and gets his hands dirty in front of us, rather than skulking around and dropping hints. The writer appears to be turning him into a hero, and moving him away from the anti-hero he originally was. New 52, new rules, I suppose.
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Issue #7 – “Game Over” – sees Constantine finding his secret stash of mystic artefacts has been emptied by Tannarak. As Mr E strolls around the globe killing magicians and mystics and stealing their powers (and recruiting an old girlfriend of Constantine’s to the Cult of the Cold Flame), Sargon comes to collect the powerless Constantine and takes him home for the night…
Issue #8 – “Spot the Hustle” – sees Mr E. pop in to Sargon’s little place in the Swiss Alps to kill Constantine. However, as they fight, John realises that Sargon and Tannarak have their own assassination plot running, and that he is the smoking gun…
Issue #9 – “Forever Evil: Blight” – appears to open just after the end of the Trinity War, with Constantine and the latest Justice League Dark, which includes the Phantom Stranger, Pandora, Swamp Thing, the Nightmare Nurse, waking up in Central Park, having just been pulled out of the House of Mystery by an unknown force. They are attacked by Blight – a creature consisting of a collection of humanity’s ‘evil’ drawn from the Collective Unconscious - and Pandora’s ‘Sins’…
Issue #10 – “Two Fingers to Heaven” – opens with the Justice League Dark transported by the Phantom Stranger to the border of Heaven, where they find Zauriel and the Spectre waiting to not welcome them. However, the Dog (from the Phantom Stranger’s series) pops out for a chat. There is much arguing and finger pointing, especially from Constantine, as the Dog has no fingers, which ends with John jumping into the void, pursued by the Angel Zauriel. They fall into the House of Mystery, where they find the rest of the JLD waiting. Zauriel reveals the dark secret in Constantine’s heart: “You fight for Zatanna. You fight for love. So I fight at your side.”
Issue #11 – “Forever Evil: Bight – Like a Bullet” – opens with the JLD appearing in Nanda Parbat, having disposed of Blight, and now looking for the missing magical folk in the Crime Syndicate’s base there. They walk into a trap and John finds himself alone with the Nurse as they search for Zatanna. They find that the missing mystics are wired into a giant machine designed to use their powers to fight a mysterious menace that is pursuing the Crime Syndicate across realities. John eventually unmasks the Nurse as an impostor – it is actually Nick Necro, the man who taught John all he knew… (see issue #0 of Justice League Dark, reprinted in Justice League Dark Volume 2: The Books of Magic (The New 52).) John is then zapped by Felix Faust, who is running the operation.
Issue #12 – “Forever Evil: Bight – Dreaming of Blood” – opens after the mystic monster that the Thaumaton Project was set up to fight has attacked and been defeated. Nick Necro and Felix Faust are arguing, as villains do, and while they do, John Constantine pulls a fast one; and after some fighting, everything goes to Hell…
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Awful. I will be quick so this doesn't devolve into a rant.
1. the story is just hard to follow. it jumps to following this cult which is sort of mentioned in the previous comics but now constantine is in a full blown battle with them. The story does technically follow but the pacing is awful. Then there is this battle after am implied sex scene which feels very out of place while constantine is still in boxers at which point we get a deus ex machina moment and he wins with a special blade never mentioned before and never mentioned again. So it is all set up for him in a strong position and he is going to fight this cult proper against a man named Ah. Nope the story flies forwards to fighting a creature named blight, the justice league destroyed and then constantine goes to meet God, then to a secret base, then back in forth in time. It is honestly a mess. A consistent story works if Constantine was fighting the cult, this mismatched group of stories destroys anything good about the series.
Art - the scenes are overdrawn and visually confusing. The use of magic spells may look pretty but once you have ten characters, all of them casting spells and then action throughout that through time you end up just skipping the page because you don't want to spend a day dissecting this confusing mess. Aco should be ashamed of himself.
Finally ties in with other characters. This being New 52 you enter into it as a reboot and it has to be judged on that merit. That being said it is awful. Characters come and go with barely a textbox to explain them and we are assumed to know who all of these characters are and all their powers and all the ways it could effect the situation. It just makes everything a nightmare as the story has so many deus ex machina moments from powers pulled out of nowhere that any sense of immersion or suspension of disbelief is practically impossible.
Don't buy, stick with Hellblazer.
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