John Constantine is one of the biggest badasses in comic books. The rugged demeanour, the trench coat and the perennial cigarette in mouth, Vertigo's stalwart supernatural investigator ranks highly in the list of coolest ever comic characters. And it is John Constantine that mystery writer Ian Rankin chooses to revolve his first try at writing comics around.
Dark Entries, one of the two books released to launch the Vertigo Crime line, is a satire on shows like Big Brother and an assault on the hellish world of reality television. If you haven't guessed yet, the story consists of our occult getting himself trapped on a reality TV show. Dark Entries is a rehashing of the classic haunted house scenario, with a large dash of mockery directed towards celebrity culture thrown in. The plot consists of a haunted house game show where the house has seemingly grown a mind of its own and is scaring the contestants – who are the usual combination of geeks, foreigners, tattooed troublemakers and a pretty damsel in distress. After a walk in the celebrity obsessed streets of Anytown, England, Constantine runs into an offer from a mysterious network executive to join in the show as a “consultant”.
The story is hackneyed, but enjoyable. Unfortunately for him, it's overshadowed by the Hellblazer from the near 300 issues released so far and Jamie Delano and Garth Ennis' works. Constantine is not as quick-witted as we know him to be, and he seems too gullible as he jumps to accept a hefty payload and dubious offer from aforementioned mysterious network executive. That being said, Rankin chooses to focus on what he's good at and what he knows how to do. He zeroes in on Constantine's sleuthing skills. The result is a character that is still familiar to long time readers and one that is instantly appealing to newer ones.
Dell'edera's art is very different. You don't often see this type of art in the mainstream DC or even Vertigo titles. It's got an indie feel, the black and white sketching perfect for the crime/suspense genre they're trying to go for. An interesting quirk to the book is how half the pages are white and half are black (turning black after one of the big plot twists).
The dialogue is pithy and sharp. The story is outdated but fun. It's a decent read. Get it if you hate reality television as much as John Constantine does.