Review by Ian Keogh
When DC re-booted their entire universe in 2011 John Constantine was shuffled out of his isolated Vertigo enclave as Hellblazer, and onto the main superhero chessboard for the first time since the early 1990s. Your overall enjoyment of The Spark and the Flame will depend on how objectionable you consider that regression.
Those resisting change are supplied a sop over the opening chapters in which it’s pretty much business as usual, with little in the way of mainstream superhero intrusion. Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes construct a tale that pits Constantine against some extremely powerful enemies, all in search of three components of a device that points the way to other mystical treasures. Lemire and Fawkes have a good handle on Constantine as a man who dances between raindrops on the razor blade. He’s glib and deceitful, elusive and cold-hearted.
Renato Guedes has a novel approach to the art, often resorting to viewpoints from above or below a figure. The disorienting result is presumably intended as in keeping with Constantine’s mystical world, but on occasions it looks plain wrong, resulting in pencil thin legs or heads. He also employs a technique akin the fishbowl lens, squashing an inordinate amount of detail into Constantine’s bunker hideaway. These design elements apart, he’s an excellent artist, both when it comes to the strangeness required in Constantine’s world, and more everyday scenes. Fabiano Neves also illustrates a chapter, but his is a more conventional style. The consistency of colouring by Marcelo Maiolo ensures a continuity.
The second half of the book is Fawkes alone writing, and it’s from this point we have a greater integration with the superhero community. If this is a path that must be followed, the mixture of Constantine and Captain Marvel is certainly novel, and Fawkes provides a further innovative twist, but as a whole what’s set up appears to be re-treading old ground. It certainly never compels as a re-boot should. The series continues with Blight.