John Constantine's return to England in "Constantine: The Hellblazer" #3 should be a reason to celebrate, as he encounters an old friend in the form of Georgiana Snow. While the book looks good, Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV and Vanesa Del Rey's comic ultimately feels like it's missing the punch that it promises.
Part of the problem is that, in theory, switching between the past and the present -- to give us an idea of John's former friendship with Georgie, compared to the chilly welcome his arrival has now -- should have worked like gangbusters. It's a familiar and normally welcome technique to advance the plot while filling in back story. For some reason, however, the two halves of the issue feel disconnected.
The sequence set in the past with young Constantine and company seems to be the problem. Doyle and Tynion's story here feels inconsequential; we're seeing the group of friends club around, and it's really only a small handful of pages. Every time it shows up, though, it feels like the book just stops dead in its tracks and loses all the momentum it was building. Even though Georgie and Constantine are in both segments, the connection just never feels concrete. Considering that co-author Doyle draws these pages, that's all the more frustrating; I like her art and it's a welcome surprise to see it here, but I wish they were illustrating pages I was more interested in.
The portion in the present day with Constantine trying to track down a succubus certainly looks fantastic thanks to Del Rey, whose art is wispy and flows across the page almost like curls of smoke. It's a smart choice to sub in for regular artist Riley Rossmo, and Del Rey brings a sense of doom and despair to Doyle and Tynion's story. Constantine's discovery for the being really behind it all jumps off of the page at the reader, looking eldritch and different, and it makes me want Del Rey as the regular guest artist for "Constantine: The Hellblazer." This segment of the issue works a little better in terms of story, but that needed momentum just never arrives.
"Constantine: The Hellblazer" #3 is a good looking book, but the strong writing from the first two issues takes a real stumble this month. I'm hoping it's just a temporary blip. Georgie has promise as a supporting cast member, and there's still more of the main storyline to be revealed, after all. For now, at least, it's an issue that just doesn't quite get where it's trying to travel.