Hellblazer 1: Original Sins
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Hellblazer 1: Original SinsJohn Constantine first appeared in Alan Moore's run on the Swamp Thing series as an incidental character, injecting a little bit of the Cockney wide-boy into Swamp Thing's Americana. This book sees the first nine episodes of Constantine's own adventures, scripted by Jamie Delano and graphically realised by John Ridgway.
Delano brings a uniquely British perspective to the book, setting it largely in the UK and blending his horror stories with a critique of the political climate of the eighties. Constantine's enemies range from fundamentalist Christians to demons, linking yuppie money-grabbers, racist skinheads and sick paedophiles with dark demonic forces.
The stories get a little tortured at the end where a crossover (where two different monthly comics merge their storylines in an effort to get readers of one to sample the other) is made to a Swamp Thing story, leaving something to be desired in terms of a comprehensible plot. This is a shame as it leaves an otherwise good book with a bit of a damp squib ending.
Ridgway's art is scratchy and downbeat, becoming cleaner with the addition of Alfredo Alcala in the last couple of chapters. This is also when the crossover distorts the plot though, muddying the waters a little. A cameo dream sequence by Brett Ewins and Jim McCarthy is a welcome aside, providing a starkly different view to John Constantine's mind.
Perhaps you're looking to get a strong over-all picture of John Constantine, because you've read or heard about one of the later writers on the series like Warren Ellis or Garth Ennis, in which case you may find this version of the character a little tempered. But as gritty urban horror with a smattering of the demonic and a sprinkling of left-wing politics, this is certainly of interest in its own right. It's the only selection of this run of stories to make it into a collected edition, but that makes it all the more interesting to fans on the look-out for the development of Constantine's character.
Originally published as
Straight to Hell
Next in series
Hellblazer 2: Dangerous Habits