John Constantine is a bastard.
And nobody knows this better than Jamie Delano. Delano launched the Hellblazer series way back in the 1980’s. He pretty much defined Constantine during his 40 issue run. Every other writer who has written Hellblazer, from Garth Ennis to current writer Peter Milligan has built upon the groundwork that Delano laid. After Delano left the series, he came back for a couple of stand alone issues here and there. He also did a two issue mini-series The Horrorist and a mini-series in 2000 called Hellblazer Special: Bad Blood. And that was the last time Delano wrote about Constantine.
Bad Blood was a future story that dealt with an aging John Constantine and a fight over the monarchy. As with most of Delano’s work Bad Blood was critical of both imperialism and politics. Ten years later and Delano has returned to John Constantine with this graphic novel. It’s a critical look at Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war, the atrocities that war creates and some dark magic thrown in for good measure.
The story has John Constantine being set up by the British government and forced to work for them. In Iraq, they had come across a supernatural being. They’ve tried to interrogate him and have met with one horrible disaster after another. And they naturally want to exploit such assets. They want Constantine to go to Iraq and use his “special” interrogation skills and find out what this being is and if they can use it. John warns them but nobody is listening.
This is Constantine at the top of his game. He is still a chain smoking, gambling bastard. And it’s bloody enjoyable to read it. Jock’s art is perfect for this story. He captures the dusty, war torn streets of Iraq perfectly. He also draws a perfectly scuzzy John Constantine.
This book is Delano at his best. And it’s a damn good read.
And John Constantine is still a bastard and that’s why I enjoy reading about him. (Shane Hnetka)