Hellblazer: Papa Midnite
by Mat Johnson, Tony Akins
(Vertigo, 2006)

Papa Midnite has never really impressed me as a foil for John Constantine. He's one of many friends/foes dotting Constantine's life, and so many of them are, to me, much more interesting. The character's lukewarm appearance in the 2005 film Constantine did nothing to endear him to me.

So let's assume I approached Papa Midnite, the character's stand-alone backstory, with less enthusiasm than I might have. Let's assume that readers who simply adore Papa's cynical use of African magics were much more thrilled with this collection's release than I could ever be.

Still, I mustered the desire to read it, as I find all things Hellblazer interesting to a point. By the end -- it had failed to win me over.

We're not supposed to like young Midnite when we meet him in pre-Revolution New York, but perhaps writer Mat Johnson went overboard in making the young traitor entirely despicable and unsympathetic. Hell, the young mystic is forced to kill his own sister, and I still couldn't manage to work up any sympathy for him. By the time Midnite summoned an incarnation of the African god Anansi -- as a big, goofy rabbit, more like Bugs Bunny than a fearful deity -- I was just wishing this arc would end and we'd get back to John and his tricks.

by Tom Knapp
16 June 2007

Buy it from Amazon.com.