From the first panel, issue two of Simon Oliver’s ‘The Poison Truth’ story arc is incomparably superior to the last, and is perhaps hinting at the return-to-form I was so desperately hoping for at the outset of the last issue.
The writing is notably more considered, and Simon seems to have come to better grasp with his characterisations – even if he is still, against all reasons and good writing, insisting on giving John quippy, little assides with the audience.
This is not a Greek tragedy, Simon.
(Well, in the interest of reserving judgment, it’s not Greek, at least.)
Easily the greatest contribution, however, is the new penwork by Moriat. The rough lines and heavy contrasts puts me in mind of the good ‘ol Vertigo heydays and sets a more familiar and satisfying tone for the issue.
The Hellblazer #2 begins with a conversation between Swamp Thing and Mercury that plants the seeds (sure, pun intended, why the heck not) of John Constantine’s role in the story to follow. The dialogue is a notable step up, not just from the last issue, but from much of the Constantine work we’ve seen since the New 52 relaunch. There is a maturity that continues through into the first, real interaction we get to see between Constantine and Chas where, thank the Pope, Chas seems to have shrugged off his implied asininity for a more considered, blue-collar sensibility.
Without giving anything away, The Hellblazer #2 has us tailing Constantine as he actively begins to work his way beneath the fingernails of those most put-out by his actions at the end of Part 1. We are introduced to some new characters, their roles obfuscated and their intentions vague, and I admit, I can sense a story coming on. I can say that my hopes for this new iteration of Hellblazer are now notably higher than they were after the lackluster Issue #1, with an inkling of the grit and noir that drew me to the series oh so long ago.
Add a sprinkling of maudlin and smattering of melancholy and this not-quite-old, no-quite-new iteration of everyone’s favourite least-favourite magician might be going somewhere.
Time to step up, Simon Oliver. Everyone’s watching.
Just quit it with those damned asides.