Hellblazer: Rise and Fall by Tom Taylor

details
Title: Hellblazer: Rise and Fall.
Writer(s): Tom Taylor.
Artist(s): Darick Robertson.
Colourist(s): Diego Rodriguez.
Letterer(s): Deron Bennett.
PublisherDC Comics.

Format
: Hardcover.
Release Date: April 27th 2021.
Pages: 200.
Genre(s): Comics, Horror.
ISBN13: 9781779504661.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

thoughts

Guilt has a way to gnaw at your consciousness in a frustratingly distressing manner. If left to proliferate throughout your mind without any prudent solutions, it can destroy lives and send individuals down a dark road. For John Constantine, there’s no context for an upbringing more devastating than his own when his very existence is a burden for his father. Growing up, his rebellious self leads him to find refuge in the occult yet such a playground in heaven and hell opens up a world of terrifying possibilities that could only promise misery and regret if he doesn’t thread carefully. But who ever thought John Constantine would ever play by the rules? Collecting all three issues of the DC Black Label miniseries, writer Tom Taylor (Injustice, DCeased) and artist Darick Robertson (The Boys) form an exciting new creative team to explore a careless and cynical hero’s journey of redemption.

What is Hellblazer: Rise and Fall about? On one fateful night, a billionaire falls from the sky, skewered on a church spire, with angel wings attached to his body. Detective Aisha Bukhari doesn’t have much of a lead on this case, especially when they’re unable to identify the animal from which those feathers are from. It’s when occult investigator John Constantine, a childhood acquaintance, knocks on her door and unveils to her the link of this mystery to a tragedy they were all part of as children, that everything starts to make sense. This tragedy that marked John Constantine’s first foray into mystic art, but also the first death on his hands, has now come to haunt them all once again. Working together, accepting all conspicuous help that comes along the way, they race against time to stop a demon from wreaking havoc and plummeting their world into an unforgiving calamity.

“In my experience, the dead prefer to be lied to.”

— Tom Taylor

In an effort to showcase John Constantine in all of his glory, from his out-of-the-blue ability to counter and defend himself against occult and mystical creatures to his weakness for personal vices, mostly revolving around his drug consumption (alcohol and cigarettes) or his homosexuality, writer Tom Taylor sacrifices creative and engaging narrative elements, that could have made this murder mystery much more memorable, for a shallow exploration of a hero’s complex personality. The story’s intrigue also mostly resides in the denouement of the mystery, quickly putting aside the whodunnit to focus on the how-do-we-undo-it and making the story much less memorable as the source of evil and everyone’s problem is revealed quite early. While the adventure in itself is engaging, paced with some great horror moments to capture the insanity of many of the situations that take place, it remains unrewarding due to its simplicity.

If you’re familiar with artist Darick Robertson’s artwork from The Boys, you won’t be surprised by this graphic novel’s artistic vision. Taking advantage of the prestige format of the graphic novel, the panel structure never sticks to a predetermined number of squares or arrangement. Whether it’s larger rectangles, panels that superpose themselves on one another, or splash pages, the artwork offers more breathable room to play with, to expose the character’s emotions or to display the flagrantly gory moments that implicate more blood than humans are ever supposed to encounter in their lives. The excellent colouring also help establish a darker atmosphere for the story that unfolds, mostly taking place at night, perfect to highlight the characters with vivid colours by soaking them in a lot of blood or lighting them up on fire. If anything, it’s through the artwork that the story finds any footing to justify its relevance.

Hellblazer: Rise and Fall is a trivial adventure where a ghost, a magician, and the devil look to stop a demon’s evil endeavor before countless humans plummet to their death.


EXHIBITA
Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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7 comments

  • Ah, writing Hellblazer is a trial by fire, I’d say; not many authors seem to succeed with it. I’ll be starting Ennis’s run in a few days and I’m quite stoked for it as it seems to be well regarded. Cool review, Lashaan! I guess I’ll give this one a pass – I’m not really one for prequels 😜
    Also, I know that may not be the most important thing here, but I’m somewhere at the end of Delano’s run and till now Constantine was very much heterosexual with a bit of tree-hugging involved 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, if the tone isn’t right from the start, they tend to struggle in the execution. I haven’t tried Ennis’ run but did read the first volume of Delano’s run in 2019 (and have yet to continue it). I hope Ennis’ run impresses you though!

      I have only seen him as a heterosexual in most stories too. The first time they dared push him into being bisexual was in the CW Arrowverse shows. And now I got Tom Taylor embracing that element for the character in this story.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Did you ever read the original Hellblazer comics? I’ve not, though I’ve been curious to try them at various times. Obviously, though, never enough to actually do it. If I do I probably won’t start here. 🙂 And your mention of The Boys reminded me I have a copy of volume 1 waiting in my stack of yet to be read trade paperback collections. One day perhaps I’ll get through all those.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have! I read and reviewed the first volume of Delano’s Hellblazer run back in 2019 but never got around to continuing the series. I definitely should fix that at some point.

      Glad to hear that you have a copy of The Boys in your collection! I read the first omnibus digitally and wasn’t completely enamoured by it but appreciated the insanity of the story (I was curious to see how it measured up to the show).

      Like

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