Black Flowers

Author: Mike Carey
Artists: Marcelo Frusin, Lee Bermejo and Jock
Titan Books
RRP 12.99
ISBN 1 84576 186 3
Available 25 November 2005

Four months he has felt it - a growing sense of foreboding, of dark forces massing just out of view. Ever since he rescued his niece Gemma from from a ruthless rival magician, John Constantine has been shaking the trees for hints about his impending calamity. Now the signs are changing from subtle to lethally obvious, and as they manifest themselves his immediate priority changes to staying alive. But he will never rest until he knows who his real enemy is. Led by instincts as sharp as broken glass to clues scattered across the glove, Constantine is slowly putting the pieces together. There's a whiff of apocalypse in the air, and the world's shrewdest magus is determined to find its source...

Black Flowers collects together issues 181-186 of the Hellblazer comic. Yet again our hero goes up against the forces of evil - they really should know better by now.

The first story, The Game of Cat and Mouse, sees Constantine on the run from a particularly nasty group of demons. But, he's not as dumb as his pursuers believe, nor as helpless. The second collection, Black Flowers, sees our hero on a mission for Demon King Arawn Pen Annuvin, which brings him back in touch with Angie Spatchcock. The final tale, Third Worlds, sees Constantine travel back in time to deal with a group of racist ghosts, and the people that they mercilessly slaughtered. This story also sees Constantine having to play the most important card came of his life.

This collection brought home to me how formulaic the Constantine series has become. Every story revolves around either demons chasing Constantine, nearly out smarting him, but ultimately failing; or some unfathomable puzzle which he solves in the last few pages - revealing that he's known the solution all along.

That said, this is still an interesting, if slightly predictable, collection of stories that will entertain you for the duration.

Pete Boomer

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