Andy Diggle and Goran Sudzuka’s Hellblazer: Lady Constantine

cover art for Lady ConstantineHellblazer: Lady Constantine is a delightful romp in a series that otherwise can be bloody awful more often than not! It is also true that this series is a relatively rare example of a Hellblazer spin-off miniseries, but then again, she did start off as a Sandman character. Oh, did I mention that Lady Johanna Constantine herself is witty, sexy, and a truly kickass character? Though I will stress strongly that she shares the Constantine family trait of never, ever being someone you should trust not to stab you in the back if need be.

Lady Joanna Constantine is the eighteenth century ancestor of John Constantine, the lead character in the Hellblazer series. Lady Joanna’s first appearance was in Sandman Number 13 (collected in Absolute Sandman, Volume One), when she confronted Morpheus and the immortal Hob Gadling, believing them to be the Devil and the Wandering Jew. Morpheus hypnotised the Lady Constantine, and made her an unknown offer if she would do him a sevice. It turns out that this service was the rescue of his son Orpheus’ head from the horrors of the French Revolution. This service honorably completed led to a grave for her on the island of Orpheus, which is tended daily by his priests.

Due to a lack of really interesting novels over the past several months (despite seeing more fiction than is probably healthy for my sanity), I’ve been reading graphic novels, mostly in the Wildstorm Universe such as Authority, Planetary, and Sleeper, to name but a few series I found interesting. But, needing a hit of horror slash urban fantasy, I’m currently reading the Hellblazer series. It fits the bill of what I was looking for rather nicely, which is how I ended up reading Lady Constantine. (Warning — DC renamed the series John Constantine, Hellblazer in the wake of the truly awful Constantine film of a few years back. The less said about that travesty of a film, the better.) What we have here is a collection of the four-issue Hellblazer Special miniseries written by The Losers ‘ Andy Diggle and illustrated by Goran Sudzuka (guest artist on the acclaimed Y: The Last Man). The story is a fast paced read that fills in just a bit of how John Constantine came to be, especially useful as the soon-to-be Lady Joanna shares his supernatural abilities.

So what’s the story here? Without giving away too many details, I can say that Lady Joanna Constantine is a down on her luck magician (with a young daughter whom she pretends is a boy — nice use of a folk motif) who has neither cash nor anything else worth noting. About to be evicted by her latest landlord for giving him the equivalent of fairy gold, her lovely skin is saved by the British government so she can retrieve a chest for them from deep under the Arctic Ocean. Ahhh, a cursed object! A sea voyage! Nasty monsters! Lust! Betrayals! Hell, there’s even a really interesting variation on … Oh, never mind … Suffice it to say Joanna Constantine makes a damn fine lover, a more than merely good fighter, and can’t follow the orders of her employers not to open that chest to save (literally) her soul. If you liked the antics of Lara Croft in the Top Cow series, you’ll love Joanna Constantine. And the cover, by Phil Noto, of her with a very low-cut top and crossed pistols is absolutely perfect! What’s not to like here?

(Vertigo, 2006)

Cat Eldridge

I'm the publisher of Green Man Review. My current audiobooks are Arkady Martine's A Desolation Called Peace, Nicole Galland’s Master of The Revels, and Walter Jon William’s Deep State. I’m reading Neal Asher’s latest Polity novel, Jack Four. My music listening as always leans heavily towards trad Celtic and Nordic music.

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