Hellblazer: Setting Sun
by Warren Ellis, various artists
(Vertigo, 2004)

Setting Sun is a set of tales filling in some of the gaps in John Constantine's life. None of these stories here will shake up his unflappable world, nor will they set readers' imaginations on end, but they're good, quick swallows of John's exciting world of dark magic.

It begins with "Locked," a short chapter in which Constantine is summoned to deal with a room alive with death, and the trollish man who calls it home. In "The Crib," he matches wits with a man who believes he carries the miscarried fetus of the Antichrist -- and all of its misshapen power -- in a box. In "Setting Sun," Constantine sorts out the needs of a recently dead (and longtime insane) Japanese doctor, while in "One Last Love Song," our hero is pursued by the ghosts of his many ex-loves. In the final yarn, "Telling Tales," Constantine has a bit of fun with a journalist who wants to learn about the "real" side of underground London.

The stories are all written by Warren Ellis, which is a good selling point, especially since these were his last issues of a lengthy run. Each story is illustrated by a different artist, however, and this definitely isn't the cream of Vertigo's stable. Tim Bradstreet on "The Crib" and James Romberger on "Love Song" provide the strongest work.

This book is definitely for readers who've already fallen under Constantine's spell. If I'd read this book first, I doubt I'd have been moved to look up other Hellblazer titles; it just doesn't knock your socks off enough to pull you back for more. But for those of us who're already hooked, it's a nice, short shot of Constantine's further adventures.

by Tom Knapp
30 June 2007

Buy it from Amazon.com.