Rare Cuts

Authors: Various
Artists: Various
Titan Books
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 84023 974 3
Available 21 January 2005

Everybody has regrets - hearts broken, chances missed, mistakes made. For John Constantine, those regrets usually come with bodies attached - a long line of the dead, friends and enemies alike, stretching back in time. As one of the world's greatest sorcerers, someone who has walked into Hell itself and returned alive and unbroken, Constantine knows better than anyone still drawing breath just how costly mistakes can be...

Rare Cuts gives Hellblazer fans an insight into what led a poor boy from Liverpool to become a magus powerful enough to take on the Devil and emerge triumphant. This graphic novel collects six never-before-reprinted issues Vertigo's popular series.

Before I start to review this collection I want to get something off my chest.

Sadly, thanks in whole to the Keanu Reeves movie, Hellblazer fans are starting to wander what this series is called. Those of use who have followed Constantine's exploits prior to the movies release will know the series as Hellblazer. However, since the film's release all graphic novels that have been published are now marketed as John Constantine: Hellblazer. Just why this is is a bit of a mystery. If Vertigo is using this as a marketing ploy to suck in all those stupid cinema goers who are too thick to workout for themselves that Constantine is based on the Hellblazer series then why not call the graphic novels: "Constantine: Hellblazer"? By adding the "John" before "Constantine" those self same stupid cinema goers are going to be looking under the "C" section of their comic stores and not "J" or "H".

This is a trend that was started back in August 2004 (when it was obvious that the new movie was going to be called Constantine) with the release of Highwater. And I am still at a loss to explain what the point it...

Anyway... Rare Cuts is comprised of several stories about the young Constantine. My favourite was the childhood tale Dead-Boy's Heart - illustrated by the great Sean Phillips. This shows Constantine's dark childhood and how sick he was before he became a man.

Another great story is In Another Part of Hell. Here (another Phillips story) Constantine remembers his youth and his friends sick mother Queenie and her pet Slag (an ape dressed in woman's clothing and wearing a long blonde wig). If this story doesn't give you nightmares then Satan has already acquired your soul.

But to be honest the other tales in this collection (a man possessed by his diary, a girl who is possessed by a demonic entity and a village whose occupants go a little crazy) all well above average.

This volume also includes a special updated character timeline and a guide to Constantine's London.

This is one of the best Hellblazer collections I've read to date.

Nick Smithson

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