Writer: Jeff Lemire & Ray Fawkes
Artist: Renato Guedes
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

I hold no reverence for what was. I apologetically say that early Vertigo escaped my interests for bigger guns and lesser feet elsewhere. I’m just now finally imbibing the goodness that is SANDMAN. With that, I can only offer you a new look at CONSTANTINE, a view that was born of the New 52 Big Bang. However, I entreat the TalkBack Legion and my fellow reviewers to offer a fair and balanced report on how this book compares to its hell blazing ancestor.

CONSTANTINE is the exact mellowing the DC magic scene has been looking for. It has quieted the cacophony of noise that came from the “all team – all the time” approach of the magic scene since the god particle imploded back in August 11.

Now, as I said I’m reading SANDMAN right now, and as all of you V purists know, Constantine made his fair share of appearances in those pages. So I’m not a complete Hellblazer virgin, and I can say with certainty that Lemire & Fawkes’ JC is a ripe ole’ bastard on par with the Vertigo universe. Is it sanitized? Of course, don’t be stupid. But when in one issue a man can take on a new partner and then serve-up that partner as a sacrificial scapegoat by the end, I’d say we’re dealing with a definitive sociopathic distancing from traditional hero mores.

We’re only one issue in, but CONSTANTINE is the anti-hero infusion DC has needed since God sneezed after FLASHPOINT. I also see parody brewing with this Death of the Partner story, given the recent hubbub about Robin. Intentional or not, I like the idea of letting CONSTANTINE flippantly wipe his arse with golden calves and other current events.

The reason CONSTANTINE serves up his young magical protege is simple – power. CONSTANTINE is on the hunt for a compass that can divine the location of any magical artifact one’s heart desires.  Our sacrificial lamb, Chris, is consumed with magic to the point it controls him versus him controlling it. This is a bad combination on a good day, a  fatal combination when the Cult of the Cold Flame is also on the trail for the pieces of the mystical compass.

The Cult of the Cold Flame is comprised of such old universe magical favorites like Zatara and Mister E. to a name a few.  Is Zatara alive in the New 52? Hardly, and as you’ll learn with other dead characters like Sargon the Sorcerer, their more comely offspring have taken over where the parents left off. 

When cornered, CONSTANTINE makes a hasty exit to flee on to issue 2 leaving Chris bound by Lady Sargon’s magical ties. Some may say this is not very heroic, but personally I think it makes for a richer character when they understand the grays of the world and not just the black and white. Also, Chris was making the hunt for the compass pieces just too damn easy, it would be nice to see CONSTANTINE perform some mystical sleuthing work in the future. 

I’ve loved DC attempts at magic to date, but as we’ve sen by sales’ numbers the rest of the world does not agree with me. I’m pretty sure both JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK and SWORD OF SORCERY have been toe tagged at this point, which would mean a completely dry mystical well without CONSTANTINE to satiate.

Dry, cavalier, lewd and flip are what I expect from CONSTANTINE, Lemire and Fawkes more than delivered on this character experience. Wild, outrageous and divining the mystical from the mundane are what I expect from a book about magic and again the boys are up to task. Gorgeous locales, and sensible representations so our small minds can understand magic are what I expect from an artist dealing with magic and Guedes does not ever disappoint.

They say the third time is the charm, so let’s hope this holds true for the less than charmed world of DC magic to date. They have a strong winner with CONSTANTINE and my advice is to let him have some breathing room to build this universe unfettered from story lines that don’t need him yet. Please integrate him into the DCU, but do not yet make him integral.