- Books, Literature, and Writing
Hellblazer Graphic Novels Worth Reading
Hellblazer Graphic Novels - The 10 Best Hellblazer Stories
"I just finished reading some Hellblazer graphic novels that were amazing; have you ever heard of the character?" I couldn't help but laugh a little bit at seeing my best friend, who has never picked up a comic, go crazy over a graphic novel. It felt good that another person had discovered that comics can be just as good as novels. Individual issues of Hellblazer have been giving readers a peak into the supernatural since 1988 and has become one of the staple series in DC Comic's Vertigo line.
For anyone who isn't familiar with the series, John Constantine is a tough as nails practitioner of magic who uses his skills to help others (and occasionally himself) by delving into places where mortals shouldn't delve. The fact that this comic is Vertigo's longest running title makes many Hellblazer graphic novels must-read material and if you discovered Mr. Constantine through the movie, then you're in for a real treat - the comic book is much better. Below you'll find my favorite stories from the series (in no particular order) and various other related thoughts. I hope you find something you like.
Image of John Constantine courtesy of Alix Clinkingbeard / flickr.
Graphic Novels Or Comic Books?
There is a trend taking place in comic book stores that I don't see slowing down anytime too soon - using the term "graphic novel" to describe collected versions individual issues in a comic book series. This is being done to entice others to give our interesting view on fictional stories a closer look and I for one have no problem with it. Since this phenomenon has started I've noticed a lot of my friends began talking about wonderful stories they've discover at the library. That's right, libraries have started putting comic books on their shelves in the form of collected trade paperbacks (or graphic novels). It's a huge move that will continue to bring new readers into the industry and will be necessary for the industry to survive. Where does that leave individual issues? They'll still be a demand for them by collectors and die-hard comic book fans and with a little luck by the people who discover them by reading... graphic novels.
Which is better?
A Clever Way To Cure Cancer - If you've got the balls to try it.
Collects issues #41-46 and is written by Garth Ennis. Our favorite exorcist finds himself doing battle with the most dangerous enemy he's met so far - cancer. His solution to the problem involves him making deals with three very powerful demons. One of the best Hellblazer stories you'll ever read, period.
If someone I know wants to get familiar with John Constantine, this is the book that I always recommend first. It showcases all of the character's good points and reaches a level of depth few other comic series can even hope to achieve.
Why I Don't Want To Go To Prison - And what I should do if I find myself in one.
Collects issues #146-150 with a story by Brian Azzarello and art by Richard Corben. Tells the story of how John survives a stint in a maximum facility prison while at the same time avoiding the old "drop the soap" trick.
If you liked the old TV show "Oz" then you'll enjoy this particular Hellblazer graphic novel. It's definitely a bit tongue-and-cheek, but the story is solid and entertaining.
John Constantine, Hellblazer - Vol. 1: Original Sins (2011) - When looking at Hellblazer graphic novels, why not start with the beginning?
This Hellblazer graphic novel collects issues #1-9 and issues 76-77 of Swamp Thing which continues the story at the end of number 9. Be sure and read the details or ask your local comic book store owner for this particular version as there are some that don't have the two Swamp Thing issues. These early stories help develop the character and lay the groundwork for a long time to come.
There Are Risks For Those Who Dabble In Magic - Insanity is one.
Jaime Delano continues to flesh out the Hellblazer universe and the most compelling reason to buy this graphic novel is issue #11 - Newcastle: A Taste of Things To Come. A story about Constantine before he was the experienced magician he is now and an incident that almost broke him. Collects issues #10-13, Hellblazer: Annual and Horrorist #1-2.
I'll be honest with you, the only reason I bought this volume is because it had some previously unpublished material as DC didn't really collect individual stories early on. A strong buy, in my opinion, for the Newcastle story alone.
Constantine Movie Poster - 27 x 41 in.
Buy for $19.99
Sharing Memories - And spending time with family.
John heads back to merry old England where he has to deal with a few problems with his family and a young wizard. Mike Carey takes over writing duties as this volume collects issues #175-180.
For those of you turned off by some of Azarello's stories, you'll be glad to hear that Mike Carey takes the character back to the cerebral horror feel that you often found in earlier issues by Ennis and Delano.
Hellblazer Art - You can see that this man is dangerous... and mischievious.
Detective Work Is A Lot Easier - When you can use a little magic.
This Hellblazer graphic novel collects issues #134-139 with Warren Ellis doing the writing and John Higgins handling most of the artwork. John uses more of his detective skills in this one as he tries to find out who killed an old girlfriend. There is more of a focus on character than action, so those of you looking for pages and pages of magic might pass this one up.
This is the best work by Ellis on the series, period. I actually like seeing John as more of detective every once in a while. Solid art which fits perfectly with a solid story makes this volume one you should try out at some point.
Garth Ennis Hellblazer Interview
Another New Disease To Worry About - John Constantine at his best.
Written by Mike Carey and penciled by artist Leonardo Manco this original Hellblazer graphic novel puts John in a position of saving a friend's granddaughter from a mysterious coma. They eventually find out that there is demonic influences at work and that children all over the world are falling victim to it.
Hellblazer fans will get a solid stand-alone story with incredible mood-filled artwork and some resource information about the character and his creation by Alan Moore.
Some Humans Are Just Plain Evil - Even more so than some demons.
Jamie Delano gives us a story in which Constantine has to track down a sadistic serial killer known as the Family Man. Collects issues #23-24, 28-33.
No supernatural demons to deal with here, only human ones. The only complaint I have is that there is no one artist that does all of the stories, but it is similar enough not to be too noticeable.
Facing the Devil - Again.
The last major storyline by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon in which he ties up all of the loose ends started oh so many issues ago. You could get a little lost if you haven't read some of the earlier collections by Ennis. Collects issues #78-83.
I have only a minor complaint. I wish Ennis would have taken another issue or two to draw things out a little bit better. I have to wonder if he was under some sort of deadline as some of it feels rushed.
Constantine Wings Movie Poster - 40 x 30 in.
Buy for $19.99
Other Graphic Novels From The Vertigo Line - If you like Hellblazer, you should like these as well.
Although Hellblazer may be one of DC's longest running titles in the Vertigo line-up there are a wide range of quality stories that will satisfy fans of the supernatural. If you've never checked any of those below out before, do yourself a favor and at least take a look at them. I guarantee you'll find one or two that you like.
Chibi John Constantine - Cute and dangerous.
Great Stories Finally Collected - This one belongs on your shelf along with the other Hellblazer graphic novels.
Collects some great stories (with solid art) never printed in a collected format. Includes issues #11, 25-26, 35, 56, and 84. They are all mostly stand-alone stories except for 25-26 and scripted by the best comic book writers of the time.
I know that the Newcastle story appears in another volume, but this collection is worth buying because many of these stories are collected no where else. I just wish they would have included the Neil Gaiman issue (#27 "Hold Me").
Other Good Hellblazer Graphic Novels
That while I've never read, I've heard great things about them.
John Constantine, Hellblazer: Bloodlines (by Garth Ennis)
John Constantine, Hellblazer: Setting Sun (by Warren Ellis)
John Constantine, Hellblazer:Good Intentions (by Brian Azzarello)
John Constantine, Hellblazer: The Fear Machine (by Jamie Delano)