Facing the Consequences

By J. Stephen Bolhafner
Published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Sunday, April 3, 1994

Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by William Simpson and others

John Constantine is a sorcerer, but he can't do everything. For instance, he can't make the cancer that's killing him go away.

In "Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits" (160 pages, DC Comics, $14.95 paper), writer Garth Ennis makes Constantine confront the consequences of the life he has lived in a manner seldom seen in mainstream comics.

Even though he questions himself, however, he doesn't change much. Dying of lung cancer, he continues to smoke cigarettes. Condemned to hell, he continues to make wisecracks.

Penciller William Simpson and a variety of inkers provide mood and pacing. Despite the cosmic trappings and appearances by demons from hell, it's mostly a very down-to-earth story about life and death and dying, and the pictures reflect that. The colors by Tom Ziuko are not the bold primaries of super-heroes, but washed out and often monochromatic.

"Hellblazer" is one of the anchors of DC's new comics line, called Vertigo. It may not be as famous as the flashier "Sandman," but it may actually be as good - high praise from someone who admires "Sandman" creator Neil Gaiman as much as I do.