The Hellblazer Vol 1: The Poison Truth (Rebirth)
Simon Oliver, writer; Moritat, Pia Guerra, Jose Marzan Jr., artists; Andre Szymanowicz, colorist
DC Comics, 2017
They keep starting and cancelling John Constantine series, but he never stays away for long. After the long-running Vertigo series Hellblazer, he was in a New 52 series titled Constantine, followed by a DCYou series titled Constantine: The Hellblazer. Now he is part of the Rebirth line, as The Hellblazer (extra points if you can keep those title variations straight). This first collection includes the Rebirth special issue plus the first six issues of the ongoing series. Writer Simon Oliver has some history with the character, having previously written the miniseries Hellblazer Presents Chas: The Knowledge (Vertigo, 2008-2009).
The Rebirth special takes Constantine back to London from New York--which requires him to reverse a curse placed on him by a demon. The curse begins to infect the whole population, until his old acquaintance Mercury (who is a psychic) comes to his rescue. He had also enlisted his old ally Swamp Thing to keep the Justice League at bay while he worked his plan, and they make a brief appearance (it's also good to see his old friend Chas driving him around as usual). The ongoing title introduces new characters. It is quickly established that they are ancient, but it's a while before we find out that they are djinn. They were displaced by the human race, and they're not happy about it.
Whatever they are up to, its complicated. Swamp Thing calls in his favor from Constantine, and goes into the Rot with Mercury seeking Abigail Arcane, who has gone missing. Abigail is the avatar of The Rot (so the events of the New 52 series appear to have held). The djinn Marid has compelled Constantine's old friend Clarice Sackville to gather all of London's mages to aid his plan; Constantine has gone to get Map's advice (Map is a mage who is the spirit of London, another legacy Hellblazer character). Bottom line is, all signs point to the djinn. Marid claims he wants to help the human race, but it looks like a crisis to everyone else. The collection concludes with Constantine and Mercury arriving in Paris. So the arc is truly open-ended: calling it "The Poison Truth Parts 1-6" is a tease, because very little is settled by the end.
But other than that it's a satisfying start to the new series. Constantine is completely back to type: he's not punching people, gets most of his goals accomplished by manipulating people rather than explicitly using magic, and talks like a British smart-ass. The supporting characters look and act right as well. And Moritat's art (as well as the other contributors) is in line with the traditional look of Hellblazer artists (which admittedly allows for a lot of variation).
I was going to debate with you Mark, but actually I'm with you every paragraph. I enjoyed this 'Rebirth' and an looking forward to the next volume.
Well written/said sir.
Thanks, Richard! Debate can be fun, but it's nice to know we're on the same page here (so to speak).