Hellblazer: Son of Man
by Garth Ennis, John Higgins
(Vertigo, 2004)

John Constantine made a lot of very big, very bad mistakes in his younger days. One of them is coming back to haunt him.

Constantine, then a young mage fresh from the horrors of Newcastle, was recruited by a London gang leader to resurrect his dead 5-year-old son. Constantine knows he can't do that, but the mobster's not giving him much of a choice. So Constantine does what's only logical: he invokes a demon to inhabit the boy's shell.

But now, 16 years later, the demon-child is ready to start a war in London. And Constantine, who suddenly finds himself concealing an accessory to murder, is yanked right back into the midst of things with a demon who has big plans for the world.

This is excellent storytelling, which writer Garth Ennis has proven his skill at over and over again. But Son of Man has its problems, not the least of which is John Higgins' art. It's more cartoony than I expect in a Hellblazer book, and Constantine doesn't look like himself -- all square-jawed and buff, like Higgins was auditioning for a Marvel superhero book.

Also, Constantine has developed an annoying habit of breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the readers, an affectation that almost never works in comics and certainly breaks the mood here.

Otherwise, Son of Man is a wonderfully disturbing piece of work that will grip you right to the end.

by Tom Knapp
12 May 2007

Buy it from Amazon.com.