How much more of Alan Moore's work will Geoff Johns run with?
The mainstream and me are not the best of friends at times and Brightest Day (BD) was one of those books felt I could drop after issue #0 (which I admit I purchased for the ring... holds his head down in shame.. pauses... and continues). I didn't care I was not following Geoff Johns monthly taking over mainstream comics. I was reading his Blackest Night and GL stuff, but when BD started, I just took the opportunity to save money (with BD being Bi-monthly and so many cross-overs) I rather save the cash. And Johns won in the end... my John Constantine rule wins over my budget and if you are reading this review right now, then you likely are aware I am the self proclaimed (and still not disputed) biggest John Constantine fan on Comicvine, so my opinion on John's Return should be an interesting one.... will it be a fair one? I'll try my best to keep it fair and honest I swear.
DC Comics at one time were protective of John when they realized that he was the first character of his kind. Later Constantine would create clones, such as Cal McDonald and William Gravel. To Protect John, DC limited his appearances, this only made the DCU John fade slowly out of Memory once the Vertigo John was born in 1988's Hellblazer (originally titled Hellraiser). Torchbearer Jamie Delano can be credited by many as John Constantine's true father, because it was Delano who really fleshed out the character that many respected people (sorry for the name drops... but a great example of a John Constantine fan who never could get away from John is Warren Ellis who has created more Constantine Clones then any other writer) love today. The DCU John slowly fade away since Vertigo John Constantine was aging in real-time (a gift most American Comics Characters never have, it is common for British Comic Characters such as Judge Dredd who has also been given that gift). When it was obvious that John was to comic back to the DCU, the speculations of which version would appear was obvious that a "classic" look John would grace this comic, since explaining his age and scars would be messy, also American Comic fans enjoy their ageless characters, so the classic look had to be what would be "The Return".
I will take a short break on Constantine, since it is really Swamp Thing that is important in this comic. I don't know if Geoff Johns learned a thing or two of the Tarot, but I have a feeling he did because Swamp Thing in the Vertigo Tarot is card 21 of the Major Arcana, better known as "The World". From what I picked up on this comic is that Johns lucked out on the occult or he learned a thing or two from Grant Morrison. An example of the "feel" of Swamp Thing being the world is on the page 26-27 spread, where we actually see The Swamp Thing hugged by two panel (above and below/Heaven and Hell) of the planet earth. I hate to admit it, but that is what comics is about, a juxtaposition of symbols (pictures) to words for a message that can only be told in this medium. If you want a write up of what "The World" means in Tarot you can click: Here. Another point of interest, Swamp Thing looks more like his Lein Wein and Bernie Wrightson version, rather then the Alan Moore version. Another interesting point is that issue is released in the spring, which this comic makes sure to enforce the "Eternal Spring... Has Arrived..." Is that a joke or a nod to real-life spring that has come into the readers life?
With all the talk about the Tarot, I must mention that John Constantine plays "The Fool" in the Vertigo Tarot. Numerically it is given the number Zero, just to give him a number, he has no real position in the deck, he can be seen as the first card that starts the Journey, or the last card that would be after The World. Again.... I wonder if Johns is getting lucky, since if you read this issue, you know what pages John Constantine is on. Then again that one could of been formulated, Death of the Endless after all made her DCU return in a similar way with a tease of a finish. Either way, the limited use of John was appropriate, even if I don't like or approve of it.
The classic and forgotten John seems to be back and to be honest Johns (and Peter Tomasi) have not given me the feel of the character. He doesn't seem mysterious enough to me (which could of been the quick appearance in the first place, John never officially showed up in Moore's Swamp Thing until The American Gothic arc.) and the word choices weened on the average readers lack of knowledge of Constantine in the first place. As a John Constantine fan, $5 was a lot for this comic and it hurt a little buying it since I have to own comics with John in it, the price was too pricey with DC "drawing the line" (yeah right). This John is not the real John in my opinion, he was a John that Alan Moore abandoned to Delano and Delano decided to do so much with. As appropriate and well laid out the comic was, it is a step back of what John Constantine has become and that is why I don't approve of the use of John. John Constantine is not just a symbolic savior when he appears in a comic, he is the flagship Vertigo character that taught me how to appreciate comics to be so much more then pictures and words in the first place. John being in the DCU does not better the DCU, since those who want to branch out their understanding of the medium will discover other comics (Mine was Hellblazer), those who want to play itself stay safe. John's Cameo is meaningless unless explained and those who can explain it tend to agree it shouldn't of happened in the first place.
When I boil it down to the bitter truth of the comic, it was well written for what it was attempting, but what it was attempting was in the wrong spirit in the first place. John Constantine is my "messiah" and he is the reason I see the medium the way I do, so you can thank him for opening my mind to those possibilities if you enjoyed any of my reviews. I guess that is the problem with the DCU John, something is lacking, the spirit to push the medium is lost. This comic will get a passing grade because is was written well as a comic, but I was not happy with the ticket price and the fact John is not exclusive to Vertigo anymore.
- Kevin "Silkcuts" Gorospe