Like a lot of readers, when I first started reading comic books I gravitated towards Superman, Batman, The Avengers, and X-Men. In fact, my first comic book was bought in a drug store from a spindle of comic books. I immediately fell in love with the art and the stories. However, I got older and, dare I say it, matured, but the superhero comics stayed the same. Other than the rare occasion, most of the comic books were aimed towards kids and younger readers. I was becoming disillusioned with the whole comic book medium.
It was around that time I discovered Hellblazer. Hellblazer was different. It wasn’t a guy in spandex fighting other guys in spandex. There wasn’t random violence just for the sake of violence. In Hellblazer, actions had consequences. Overall, there was something to Hellblazer and John Constantine that the spandex crowd couldn’t touch. To say I really, really like Hellblazer is an understatement.
I was a little worried when I read that NBC was turning Hellblazer into a television series called Constantine. How could network television turn this dark, nasty comic into prime time television? Sure, I could see Showtime or HBO doing Constantine and showing a whole host of graphic violence, but NBC? How were they going to pull it off?
However, NBC didn’t have to pull off turning the comic book pages into a television series. NBC has created its own Hellblazer with a dash of the comic book sprinkled throughout the episode. John Constantine is still a wise-cracking character, however, not as much as in the comic. There were plenty of references to the Newcastle event (We’ll see how that plays out over the course of the series). Chas, John Constantine’s friend, is on the show, but he’s a different version of the character. And of course there was the supernatural, but without that there would be no series.
Some of my fears were alleviated after watching the premiere episode, “Non Est Asylum” (There is no asylum). There were some faults in the premiere episode, but overall it wasn’t a bad first showing. It’s what I expected from network television-light on the gore/violence some suspense. The acting was solid and so was the story. Some comic book fans will object that there were a lot of things in the series that were never in the comic book. I am not one of those people. All I wanted was a good series that didn’t ignore the comic book. With that in mind, Constantine delivered.
Overall, Constantine looks like it will appeal to the Grimm crowd (which airs before Constantine). However, most diehard fans will probably be turned off by the lighter tone of the show compared to the comic. I’ll keep watching to see what happens and where the series goes from the premiere episode.
(On a side note, I think it will be interesting to see how the series introduces DC’s other supernatural characters. In one scene, Liv is about to pick up a helmet. For those of you not in the know, it was Dr.Fate’s helmet. Depending on how it’s done seeing The Phantom Stranger, Mister E, Zantana, Dead Man, of the Spectre would be very cool indeed.)