Title: Hellblazer: Rise and Fall.
Writer(s): Tom Taylor.
Artist(s): Darick Robertson.
Colourist(s): Diego Rodriguez.
Letterer(s): Deron Bennett.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Release Date: April 27th 2021.
Genre(s): Comics, Horror.
My Overall Rating:
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.