Stop me if you have heard this one before, “ man walks into a bar”. This is precisely the opening scene for the Trinity War tie-in that picks up from the events of Justice League Dark #22.
Constantine and Shazam walk into a bar. John has promised Shazam that he would help him find out more about his family and his new powers. But as any Constantine follower should know by now, he is one heck of a con man. Both are unaware of MopMop’s presence at the bar and this eventually leads to a brawl between a demonic entity and our hero. As the cover would suggest, the reader does get to see a magically super charged John Constantine here.
Many have raved about this issue and given it high ratings. However, it does have many faults. If you were to pick this issue up, you would have no idea who the villain is, because there is no brief history given. Unless you have read the previous issues Mr. E and MopMop’s beef with Constantine has no meaning to the reader. You will also have no understanding of the Cold Flame Cult and John’s relation to them, as that explanation dates back to The Justice League Dark#0. Putting a brief write-up in the front of the issue would have been great.
Once off villains are also always a cop-out. You know they are there for one purpose only, in this case to show off Constantine’s new skill set. This is emphasized by the artist, who falls back to drawing a flamed up horn demon. No effort is put into the creature’s creation, so you know that he will not be coming back from this adventure.
Billy Batson’s character is written better out of the two. Fawkes manages to make the display of dual identity seem so natural as he switches between being a hero and an ill-tempered kid. It is also great that the reader gets to delve into Constantine’s mind and experience how the powers of Shazam react to him being a vessel.
Besides the cheap cop-out of a demon, Guedes art is quite enjoyable, and highly detailed. The art in the frames remain highly detailed throughout the story, whilst attention is placed on to the characters faces. This allows the reader to feel what Constantine is going through, especially when he is using the powers of Shazam. Panels that feature the lightning of Shazam and the demonic rays of MopMop are also drawn exceptionally well as they give off an organic look and natural feel.
Constantine #5 serves nothing more than being a tie-in for readers that are already invested in the Constantine New 52 ongoing series. If a new reader were to pick this up, it would be nothing more than an entertaining issue. It does not intrigue you enough to be interested in what follows next, even though it ended on a drastic note. It also doesn’t intrigue you enough to research what has happened in the past issues. It feels more like it was rushed to fulfill the promise of a Constantine and Shazam crossover.