I guess this is sort of a review. I blogged a short while ago that I was reading a Constantine graphic novel (Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits, an anthology), and I promised to maybe let you know if I enjoyed it. So here I am. Dangerous Habits is the comic from which one of the main threads of the Constantine movie is taken, and there are a couple of other minor references in the movie to this anthology. I wanted to read this anthology as my introduction to the Hellblazer world exactly because it was the movie that got me interested in the character.
That was probably a mistake. Dangerous Habits is not, it would appear, a typical collection of Hellblazer stories. It’s enjoyable, and I wanted to finish the material, but I got the immediate feeling that this was really a transition period in Constantine’s life and not a regular story about his world.
The artwork is okay, I’m really not that enthused about comic / graphic novel artwork, I guess I’m more interested in the story and characterisation, hence my tendency towards regular fiction. I found myself focussing on the words, and really not looking that much at the art. Every few pages I would encourage myself to go back and look at the pictures. Maybe I’m so used to having to use my own imagination 100% to form images around the words I’m reading, I’m just not used to having them presented for me. I love movies, so I obviously have no problem watching someone else’s visualisation, but if I’m reading words on a page, I’m really not expecting someone else to present images showing me how things look.
Anyway, I found the writing ok, the overall storyline is interesting and the side-characters were interesting. However, I found both showdowns between Constantine and the Forces of Darkness to be lacklustre and without logic. Supreme evil isn’t necessarily entirely stupid. Of the two showdowns, the first, smaller one was the most absurd and beyond logic and destroyed any credibility the story had for me. The final one simply iced the cake, and although I can see where it was coming from and what it was trying to do, I just didn’t feel it was given enough context for it to be viable.
Now, this may be entirely because I’ve not read anything else in the Hellblazer universe, maybe the way the enemy behaved is entirely in-character and in-keeping with it’s normal behaviour, but if that is the case then Constantine has an easy life.
Overall, maybe I picked the wrong entry into Hellblazer, but this was a disappointing purchase which provided a few hours of diversion but no real feeling of satisfaction.
I have Hellblazer: Bloodlines, another anthology which I’m intending to read as well, and hopefully I’ll see some of the material which causes so much enthusiasm among the fans.