JOHN CONSTANTINE HELLBLAZER: All His Engines
When a hideous, inexplicable plague starts stealing children's souls and leaving the victims in a coma all across London, who else but the "antihero" John Constantine can stop it? The punk-rock magician is called in by his sidekick, Chas, when Chas's niece, Tricia, falls inexplicably comatose. To save her, the two men must go all the way to Los Angeles, where some of the world's more ambitious demons have emigrated from hell to set up a satellite office. The most disgusting baddie of them all has Tricia imprisoned within his cancerous heart; if Constantine kills the demon, he kills the little girl as well. It's a neat puzzle that delivers a healthy dose of apprehension; Manco ups the anxiety ante with his art, creating a grim L.A. landscape where the sun almost never shines. Constantine and Chas are kept busy chasing demons around the City of Angels as Tricia's time gets closer to running out. Once it gets going, the story is essentially one long chase sequence, broken up with vignettes exploring Constantine's personal history for those just discovering the long-running character. While the back-and-forth makes a bit of a hash of the tale, it should still appeal to those who like their monster drawings abundant, imaginative and gory. (Feb.)
FYI: This Hellblazer story was doubtless moved to L.A. to tie into the upcoming Constantine movie, starring Keanu Reeves, which transforms the very English magician into an Angeleno private eye.