Constantine: Distorted Illusions is published by DC Comics and written by Kami Garcia. Artwork is by Isaac Goodhart and colours by Ruth Redmond. Letters are by Steve Wands.
Constantine: Distorted Illusions releases in comic book stores and on digital platforms from today.
Constantine is not your average bad boy…
John Constantine is, and has always been, a magician of the highest caliber—who doesn’t need additional training from any highbrow magician, thank you very much.
Sensing an opportunity for independence, Constantine falsely accepts an apprenticeship in the United States to instead become the lead singer of his best friend’s punk band, Mucous Membrane. When the band begins to dabble in magic, a complicated spell gets out of hand…and the disastrous consequences might be more than Constantine can handle.
Join #1 New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures) and artist Isaac Goodhart in the most thrilling magical team-up of the year!
“Not your average bad boy”. Those are the first words that you will read when you break in to Constantine: Distorted Illusions, the latest in DC’s long-running series of YA orientated graphic novels. They also perfectly encapsulate author Kami Garcia’s interpretation of the bad boy magician.
As with Garcia’s work on the Teen Titans franchise, Distorted Illusions quickly finds a way to access the heart of the character before opening him up to the YA audience. With John Constantine that means tapping in to his wild side. When we first meet the character he’s sat in his room, surrounded by posters and strumming his guitar. We might not all be musicians but the scene is still familiar. The posters. The skinny jeans. It’s typical teenager.
At the age of 18 John is at an interesting crossroads in life. Through the book we see him jostling between his need to forge his own path and the need to prove himself to his family. The punk streak which feeds so much of his creativity and that reflects the teenage rebellion we all went through also feeds his craving to further his magic. Garcia brilliantly taps in to the uncertainty and angst that go hand in hand with being a teenager.
As with The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher, it’s no small task in trying to take a binge-drinking, chain-smoking, literal Hellraiser and turn him in to an accessible character for a young audience. Garcia rightly strips out a lot of the character’s vices and that includes reigning in his use of colourful language. But still she is able to keep traits which make him instantly recognisable. Calling other characters “love” instantly connects this younger version to his classic portrayal. The leather jacket definitely also helps.
For the uninitiated Distorted Illusions has excellent pacing. The book is broken up in to a number of chapters which add an extra layer of accessibility to its 194 pages for the young audience. Early chapters focus on Constantine’s inner workings whilst setting up his family situation before getting down to business. The central plot line focusses on his grasp of his magical abilities, something which adds much more fantastical elements to the book. It’s all presented perfectly logically and reachable for younger readers.
The story introduces a small supporting cast to round out Constantine’s world. There’s his absent father, his mother and stepfather. But more important to the narrative thrust are his closest friend, Veronica and is potential love interest, Luna. All play an important role in pushing John towards becoming the character we know and love. Obviously there are wrinkles along the way, namely a spell gone awry.
The scenario allows for some wonderful character development. Across the book we see John grappling with his insecurities as well as facing up to his shortcomings. Garcia has shown across all of her DC books that she is more than capable of sticking the landing. Distorted Illusions is no different. The book winds up with some excellent sorcery as well as a compelling emotional payoff for the character.
Distorted Illusions has a wonderful visual language. Ruth Redmond’s colours are incredibly playful, often painting foreground elements in more energetic colours whilst backgrounds are littered with small details in Isaac Goodhart’s art. Together they bring a vibrancy to the book which plays in to the magical side of the DC Universe perfectly. Across the story we’re treated to a number of dynamic locations. From Constantine’s family home and the London Underground all the way through to dingy Washington punk clubs. There’s plenty of opportunity for the art team to flex their muscles and they do so with real gusto.
Packed with magic intrigue, Constantine: Distorted Illusions is a fun introduction to DC’s resident Hellraiser. Between Kami Garcia’s excellent story and Isaac Goodhart’s imagery this book will undoubtedly open up a whole new audience to John Constantine.