Not Such a Stranger
Dammit DC, you tricked me into being more excited about this issue than I wanted to be. Putting Jae Lee on cover duties? Screw you because this cover is UTTERLY GORGEOUS. Putting him on interior art once BW: Ozymandias is over might help this series out. But damn... Constantine looking like a smug bastard, minimalism in the white background providing a stark contrast to the dark and deteriorating Phantom Stranger AND THE SMOKE FORMING MAGIC SYMBOLS? Beautiful and brilliant. Bravo.
I WISH I could say the same for the interior art. Back in issue #2 I said I liked the art, I do love Philip Tan, but this time it seems like there's more people working on the art. And instead of feeling disjointed with some art looking better than others, it feels like every single artist worked on every page. The art is REALLY rough and scribbly. It just.... pretty much the entire issue just looks decayed and ugly. It's not outright terrible art like Liefeld, but it's just kind of a huge mess.
Story-wise this is probably the best issue yet, The Phantom Stranger is still kind of doing his whole "oh look, I'm showing you all the hints at important upcoming events" thing, but it's creating more of his own story this time, plus it's good to see DC flaunting Justice League Dark around, they're really a damn great team, although Didio doesn't write Frankenstein very well. He does write Constantine pretty good, he's still definitely not the true Vertigo Constantine, but he's the most bastardous he's been in the New 52 and I have to appreciate that.
Other than that, while I like the sense that this series finally starts to have its own direction, I'm still annoyed by the entire premise of his alter ego and family. If he's ABLE to do this, how is he still being punished? It negates the entire premise of his punishment, which is the core basis of his character. The Phantom Stranger is becoming far too relatable, and once you get to really KNOW the Phantom Stranger.... he's kind of boring. This isn't even just a fanboy putting up a brick wall and saying no, from what we've seen of the more human side of The Phantom Stranger, he's really generic and dull. He doesn't seem as significant or charismatic as he once was, and his fixation on his family is very stereotypical. Every damn issue their only purpose seems to be to give enemies something to threaten.
In Conclusion: 3/5
With all my complaints, this wasn't a bad issue, nor is this a bad series. It's barely holding on though, the core is where its most faulty, it only manages to keep my interest with all the surface decorations and trinkets and whatnot. DAMN do I love that cover. There's also the fact that John was extra devilish and prior to this I read some pretty horrendous issues of other series' so..... the timing is in its favor this time around.