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Constantine Vol. 2: Blight (The New 52) Paperback – August 12, 2014
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About the Author
Ray Fawkes is a Toronto-based fine artist and writer of comics, graphic novels, prose fiction, and games. Ray's work ranges in styles from introspective, dreamscape narrative to bombastic slapstick. He is an Eisner, Harvey, and three-time Shuster Award nominee, and a YALSA award winner for "Possessions Book One: Unclean Getaway". His recent book, "One Soul", debuted in July 2011 to critical acclaim, including a starred booklist review, and was nominated for the 2012 Eisner award and 2012 Harvey award.
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Secondly - and this applies to Vol.1 - Constantine is simply a strange shadow of his former Vertigo self. A Dr. Strange shadow, to be more precise - all overblown art, pompous dialog, super hero action non-stop. Don't blame Constantine, blame the morons at DC who decided to move him from his singular anti-hero, adult-rated horror run at Vertigo to his current PG with aspiration of boobies-rated tween and teen superhero audience at the more mainstream DC.
Now Constantine is de-fanged and snipped and DC's new Dr. Strange competitor, and so beholden to continuity from the larger DC 52-verse than reading this garbage is a sad waste of time. Unless you take the motivation and go fill in any blank spots in your Constantine at Vertigo collection
In 2013, DC published their long-awaited Trinity War, a lackluster Justice League story that lead into the first major event of the New 52, Forever Evil. This graphic novel, collecting Constantine #7-12 is part of a tie-in to Forever Evil known as Blight. Notice the words "part of". You see, DC had the grand idea to launch a massive crossover between four of their "Dark" line titles: Justice League Dark, Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger, Constantine, and Trinity of Sin: Pandora. Pandora and Constantine were both fairly new, fledgling series, and the crossover cut into both of their regular stories, wasting a good four months of storytelling with this unheard of 21-issue project.
When it came to releasing Forever Evil: Blight in graphic novel form, the problem was how to go about it. Each issue ends in a cliffhanger that picks up in another title the next week. For example, Blight may prepare some massive assault in the final page of Justice League Dark only for us to see how the JLD escape in the pages of Phantom Stranger the following week. Now, the usual course of action when collecting for a crossover like this in trade format is to collect all the books into a single edition in their correct reading order. For example, Justice League: Trinity War collects Justice League #22-23, Justice League of America #6-7, and Justice League Dark #22-23. Now, in the case of Blight, I would have expected, given the sheer number of issues involved, DC might split this up into three books.
I was not expecting that they would actually split each of the titles from the crossover into its own separate book. The result is one of the messiest messes I have ever had the pleasure to chuck across the room. The first two issues collected here are fairly standard. They pretty much continue the story from the previous volume with John trying to outwit the Cult of the Cold Flame, a villainous sorcerous group made up of a bunch of pre-New 52 magical good guys now gone bad for plot convenience. From here on out, we enter some major spoiler territory so turn back now or be flung into Constantine's ever growing pit of despair.
Issue #8 ends with Constantine's learning of the current events of Trinity War, leading to his appearance at the end of that story. The following issue does not pick up where the last left off. None of the following issues will. The story is now a disjointed mess with John and a new JLD finding themselves for no explainable reason in NYC after being thrown there from god knows where. Constantine gives a rather hasty explanation about who he's teamed up with and makes a quick mention of something called "Blight". Ah-hah! We have our title, everyone. What follows is a ridiculous splash page with a caption from Swamp Thing in the upper left corner so ridiculously large and out of place that I can't help but wonder if this spread wasn't centered correctly. After getting their butts handed to them by the Blight creature, the issue ends with Blight standing over Constantine about to kill him. Awesome! I can't wait to see how John escapes.
Next issue opens in heaven. Wait. WHAT?! As I said, there are three issues missing here. Between Constantine #9 and #10, the JLD managed to escape Blight, track down Deadman, fight Blight again, get killed, come back to life, and then the Phantom Stranger lead them to heaven to get reinforcements. This issue serves very little purpose beyond obtaining the angel Zauriel for the JLD. If we didn't already know that John loves Zatanna, you might consider this one purely made for character development. It ends with the team back in the House of Mystery about to confront Blight one last time.
Next issue opens in Nanda Parbat, and guess what?! Blight has already been beaten. Yeah, that happened during the three issue gap. Isn't that getting annoying? Meanwhile, the JLD has discovered that the missing Zatanna is being held captive by supervillains in what is supposed to be the most tranquil place in the DCU. There, they confront John Constantine's old teacher and nemesis, Nick Necro. Don't know him? He was introduced in Justice League Dark. Sadly, this series seems to rely heavily on the idea that you have been following Justice League Dark, and I feel that such a thing should never be a prerequisite to reading a comic. The whole damn thing ends with John apparently tossed into hell. Well, he is the Hellblazer... If you're hoping you'll get to see how John escapes in Constantine Vol. 3, you haven't been paying attention. That plot thread is wrapped up quickly in Pandora #9.
I cannot recommend this book to anyone. I bought it because I needed to see it to believe it. How could DC be this stupid? I am seriously considering returning this piece of garbage, and I rarely return anything, books especially. The real crime is that this is the final volume that is being released before the upcoming Constantine television series, and for people more apt to collect and read from trades rather than individual books, this is just criminal and could turn people away from the show. My opinion? Forget the New 52. Stick with Hellblazer.