silkcuts's Hellblazer: City of Demons #1 - Chapter 1: Accidents Will Happen review

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Welcome to the City of Demons

The year of 2010 celebrates 25 years of John Constantine. Happy Anniversary Johnny Boy!  October being the biggest month in John's printed life.  Seven releases this month will have John in it, which is huge for him.  Wednesday, October the 13th, 2010, had three books with John in it: This book (John Constantine: City of Demons #1), The House of Mystery Halloween Annual #2 and the recoloring of Neil Gaiman's Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes. From the three this week, I think this one was the best of them John Constantine-wise.  
To keep this year special Vertigo places two John Constantine Projects on ice for about two years.  The first one was released earlier this year. It was an Original Graphic Novel titled Hellblazer: Pandemonium, which was written by Jamie Delano and art by Jock. The other main release was this mini-series called John Constantine: Hellblazer - City of Demons, which is written by Si Spencer ( Vinyl Underground, Books of Magick: Life During Wartime) and art by Sean Murphy ( Hellblazer, Joe The Barbarian). 

 Virgin cover of issue #1
 Virgin cover of issue #1
 Inked Cover for issue #1
 Inked Cover for issue #1
One of the advantages that being on ice has, is that the product has time to be perfect.  No rush.  Precise planning and execution. With the roughly two year wait, Sean Murphy was impatient.  There were a few images that he posted on his Deviant account which allowed Hellblazer fans access into the magic which is his art.  
Presented to the left is the final cover in its Virgin form with colors by Dave Stewart.  The picture on the right is a detailed inked version of the cover.  Comparing the two we can see the fine choice in colors Dave Stewart selected for this series.
 Inked page without lettering.
 Inked page without lettering.
The visual layout is very nice and the coloring is spot on to keep the super-natural noir feel of a Si Spencer story. This creative team combines well, this help them all play on each others strengths.  Si Spencer knows the Occult underbelly of London as seen in his short lived Vinyl Underground stories.  Sean Murphy constructs bold and powerful art.  Dave Stewart uses color to give the art more life. 
 Finalized art without lettering.
 Finalized art without lettering.
The twists and turns in this intro-issue gets my approval as having the potential of being another classic John Constantine story in the making.  Past writers have Killed John Constantine before, what Si Spencer does here is original.  It is also nice to see an up and coming talent like Murphy on Hellblazer, keeping the tradition of Hellblazer being a place where talent emerges from.
A very nice selling point to this mini is the quality of paper.  Most of Vertigo's releases is on newspaper stock,  which keeps the classic comic book feel and keeps the cost low.  This comic received the same glossy paper that the superhero books get, American Vampire is the only ongoing monthly to receive this treatment.
This issue makes a very good introduction mini-series for anyone who wants to learn more about John Constantine.  The classic Johnisums, like his one liners and his dark humor are extra sharp in this issue.  There is mention of past supporting characters, but no appearances, making this story focused and not cluttered with other characters to develop.
Welcome to the City of Demons, population high but just under what John Constantine can handle.
Enjoy your stay.
- Silkcuts

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