Monday, 4 January 2010

Dark Entries, A John Constantine Novel Review

Me and writer Ian Rankin have a funny little relationship, well not really but one of the reasons I've steered clear of him is a rather disturbing experience I had when I was younger when I was doing work experience for a man under the same name, only to walk into a bookshop to find that a writer of the same name had been using a pseudonym the same as MY NAME!?

This and having court a few episodes of Rebus are my only experiences of the man, until now.

Dark Entries as a product could be blasted for a lot of reasons, namely because its headlining the vertigo crime range and isn't even a crime story in any shape of the word. It could also be blasted because at the end of the day its a bog standard Hellblazer story that could have easily been inserted into the standard run, but instead the publishers jumped on a big name to get them to look like they're doing something different. And then theres the format where its made to look like a novel, with IAN RANKIN in big letters like its any other piece of 'serious' literature and not a comic book.

It could be blasted for these reasons, it could be, but I'm going to applaud it instead, because for all Dark Entries sneaky marketing tactics it might actually bring some new readers to the world of comic books, ones that are out to spend they're money on mature interesting storylines instead of the next big crisis crossover thats not worth tuppence but everyone swarms for.

So yeah, if at least one person mistakes it for an Ian Rankin novel, buys it for they're uncle who likes Rebus, who reads it, wants to read more John Constantine stories, reads some Sandman, then decides to see where all the DC universe references come from and then actually starts getting into comics, thats good enough for me.

Oh right, the book itself? Well as I said its a bog standard Hellblazer story, Dell'edera's art is nice and Rankin writes as only a British fella can. His interpretation of hell is disturbingly brilliant, and despite a few niggles here and there its an original premise well done. But the best part of Dark Entries has to come with a spoiler warning before I praise it, so stop reading now if you're planning on getting it.


One of the recurring problems of poor old John Constantine's life is that we know he's pretty much destined for hell. Even with all his schemes and scams he's probably never going to get to the great pub in the sky, but Rankin gives us a silver lining to this cloud in the form of a love interest for John who gets trapped in hell, at the end, John notes that at least she'll be waiting for him. By Hellblazers standards, thats good enough.

Spoilers end.

If you like Hellblazer buy it, If you like Ian Rankin I can't really comment because the guy stole my name.

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