Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review #27: The Best Pirate Lady Since Geena Davis in Cutthroat Island

Hellblazer: Lady Constantine

Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Goran Sudzuka
Published: Vertigo, 2006

There are a plethora of lady-versions of male superheroes, a result of the casually sexist men making the comics not being able to imagine that there was a need for original superheroines in comics... I mean, there was already Wonder Woman, right? At first I thought maybe Lady Constantine was some weird throwback to the time when having a female counterpart was as normal as having a teenage sidekick, but apparently she is merely one of a long line of male and female Constantines in the fictional family tree, many of whom have been mentioned or featured in the Hellblazer series. She is, however, the only one to get her own mini-series, as far as I know.

Anyway, the year is 1785 and Johanna Constantine, ancestor of John, is looking to make some sweet doubloons. She and her younger “brother” [her sister posing as a boy, because “bad things happen to little girls on the streets of London”] are living in a crap-hole and trying to discover the secret of transmutation to turn stuff into gold. Like her modern-day counterpart, Johanna has some skills in the black arts, which get her noticed by shady British government officials who give her a mission: FIND A MAGIC BOX! And in return, her family's estate, taken from her parents after they were convicted of treason, will be hers.

She accepts, of course... otherwise, we would have no story. So Johanna finds a former lover/associate named Rafe McCallister, a ship's captain, to help her find this box. Turns out, it's lost in the frigid waters of the Arctic Sea! So, they locate it and, with the help of a wood-spirit fella named Jack-in-the-Green, the box is acquired [a little too easily, I thought]. But lo! The box is more than it seems! And we learn that a certain immortal sorceress named Lady Blackwood seeks the box for her own nefarious purposes. How, oh, how will J-Co get out of this one?

Fortunately for her, everything seems really easy. Unfortunate for us, because there is a serious lack of tension in this story. Some plot developments are all-too-convenient. The dude love-interest [well, “lust-interest”, perhaps, as Johanna shies away from sentimental bullshit] conveniently survives a battle that sees his crew slaughtered [come to think of it, how do they sail home without a crew?] so that he and Jo can discuss that she gave the box to bad guys but won't let them keep it through some vague, magical means, and also so she can reveal to him a twist that doesn't really change anything. My previous Constantine experience was much more intricate, involving, and thought-out.

The artwork was also somewhat bland and nothing to write home about. When I see hellish demons, I would expect them not to look like pissed-off Pokémon rejects. And we get to see a couple of half-nipples on our leading lady, yet not even a shot of Rafe's ass? I am an equal opportunity nudist. Also, the box looks like a supersized version of the Lemarchand's box of Hellraiser fame, which is kind of funny, considering Hellblazer was originally going to be called Hellraiser.

not fit for a Pokéball

This seems like something I would've enjoyed more as a younger lad. Simple plot/art, brief glimpse of a topless protagonist, a sort-of twist at the end. So: not terrible, but definitely far from required reading. I give it four landlubbers out of three swashbucklers.


  1. Does four landlubbers out of three swashbucklers mean it's good?

  2. a landlubber is about 0.42 swashbucklers, depending on the strength of the yen.