I’ve floated in and out of the Hellblazer series for about as long as I can remember reading comics, but dang it if this Simon Bisley cover and Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini’s interiors weren’t enough to pull me back in again. I may have a terrible eye, but I picked this up at the shop without looking at the credits, and my first reaction was that I was looking at an Eduardo Risso production. What I got instead was a fine “John Constantine goes abroad” story, whose title “White Man’s Burden” was enough to get a chuckle out of me and earn Hellblazer #261 a place in my pile.
There are a couple of parallel narratives at work here about a British Colonel in Victorian times and a Bollywood sleezeball. It’s the first part of the arc, so there are more questions that answers on the table by the time the issue wraps, but it’s an extremely accessible opening act that manages to use Indian myth and setting in a way Virgin Comics never seemed to be able to do to get me to connect with things as an ignorant reader.
There’s also this brilliant bottom half of a page where a guru is calmly selling dollar-store spiritual advice to his followers and Constantine walks in. It’s a moment of eye contact that ignites the next few pages.
It was a bit odd that there weren’t any years marked in the introductory pages of the book. I understand that the historical sequence takes place at some point in the Victorian era, and Constantine’s time is modern day in Mumbai, but a wee nod to clarify things would have been nice.
This one’s worth picking up, though, if you’re casually into the Constantine-verse and could use an easy point of re-entry.