Madness Is the Only Constant In Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer #1

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]

It’s an indeterminate point in the future, and the world is coming to an end. All of the superhero types are in the sky fighting an unfathomable menace brought about by Tim Hunter while John Constantine watches from below. He has Chas pull off a suicide mission to help the supers, and it succeeds in killing Chas. However, spare debris hits Constantine, and it looks like the Hellblazer’s ticket is about to be punched when an older version of John from a different timeline arrives with an offer. He can send John back in time to a younger version of himself where he can hopefully stop Tim Hunter from enacting the apocalypse; it will only cost John’s soul. John accepts.

Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer #1 cover by Bilquis Evely and Mat Lopes
Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer #1 cover by Bilquis Evely and Mat Lopes

Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer #1 brings us a new John Constantine story more in the style of the Vertigo Hellblazer than the mainstream DC Constantine and Hellblazer titles. This John swears, does morally ambiguous decisions, and may very well get you killed if you stand too close.

In short, it’s the Hellblazer you know and love.

The story is a bit convoluted and involves future disasters that seem to tie into other Sandman Universe titles (namely Books of Magic). However, all of it becomes simple when it’s filtered through the decision-making of Constantine. Go back, do it again but better, and have a smoke, a pint, and a kebab.

The high point of the comic is when John meets Chas again in the past. It’s a damn rough scene that attempts to smack some sense into John Constantine. You can’t help but feel for Chas and everyone else who’s ever stuck around John for an extended period of time.

Marcia Takara’s artwork looks damn good and gives a blurry, gritty feeling to the world of Constantine. The spirits and demons look wild and intimidating, but John always manages to look a little scarier when he stares them down. Cris Peter adds a grim atmosphere through his color work, and it looks damn good too.

Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer #1 is a good start for whatever DC plans to do next with John Constantine. It’s a solid starting point for an epic and catastrophic adventure starring everyone’s favorite magical bastard. As such, I can recommend it. Check it out.

Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer #1 comes to us from writer Simon Spurrier, artist Marcio Takara, color artist Cris Peter, letterer Aditya Bidikar, cover artist Bilquis Evely with Mat Lopes, and variant cover artist Declan Shalvey.

Final Score: 8/10

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