REVIEW: ‘Hellblazer: Rise and Fall,’ Issue #1

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Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #1 

John Constantine is one of my favorite anti-heroes in all of comics. With more than a few appearances in DC Comics currently with his own series and of course a space in DCeased: Dead Planetit’s a good time to be a Constantine fan. Now, DC Black Label is here with Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #1. This new series is written by Tom Taylor, who is currently writing the character in his DCeased sequel, with art from Darick Robertson, and colors from Diego Rodriguez.

In Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #1, billionaires are falling from the sky. More specifically, one shows up gruesomely skewered on a church spire with bizarre angel wings sewed onto his back. Detective Aisha Bukhari is on the case and while she may not have answers, her childhood friend and occult investigator John Constantine shows up to shed some light – well, or complicate it all. Slowly, the threads connecting the current events and a shocking moment in John and Aisha’s misspent youth. He may not know why but these these killings tie to the first death on John’s hands and even involves heaven and hell.

The first half of Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #1 is about John’s tragic-filled birth and his childhood. Told completely through John’s narration, Taylor leaves an imprint on the character with his signature writing style. At this point, after the DCeased and its subsequent tie-ins, I’ve learned to fear Taylor’s narration, when it continues for multiple pages, I immediately feel a sense of dread and that pays off for building out a tragic backstory for one of DC’s grumpiest and saddest characters.

John’s narration that retells his childhood trauma begins at his birth and Taylor uses guilt to build a foundation for his story. He emphasizes how guilt changes you. It can make you better. It can make you work worse. But no mater which way it pushes you morally, it changes you. As the events of the issue unfold you get hints of John’s guilt and how it manifests, and how it’s coming home to roost. There are some uneven narrative moments in the issue, but they don’t outweigh the success of everything else this issue.

The story is benefitted by Robertson’s pulpy art style and Rodriguez’s dirty colors. The pages are dark, and it all suits the story. But even in its darkness there is a mysterious and uneven beauty to Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #1. This is most apparent on a single page. Taking place in water, the page is dark with blue and green. It’s chaotic with messy panels highlighting the frantic movement in the rushing current. This page alone is worth picking up the issue. From the art to the colors, and of course how Taylor describes what John is feeling. His loss of control and the terror that comes from it.

All in all, Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #1 is solid. It lays the foundation for this new mini-series and does it brick by brick with John Constantine’s guilt, graphic violence, and writing that gets under your skin. This is one to pick up for fans of the character and those looking for a gruesome noir with heaven and hell thrown in.

Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #1 is available now from

Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #1 
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TL;DR

All in all, Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #1 is solid. It lays the foundation for this new mini-series and does it brick by brick with John Constantine’s guilt, graphic violence, and writing that gets under your skin. This is one to pick up for fans of the character and those looking for a gruesome noir with heaven and hell thrown in.