Reviewer: Eden Zacarias
Publisher: Vertigo Crime (DC Comics)
Writer: Ian Rankin
Artist: Werther Dell’edera
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
Release Date: Available Now
Having been a devoted fan of the Hellblazer series since the introduction of chain-smoking occult detective John Constantine in issue #37 of “Swamp Thing,” I’ve seen Constantine survive many a nightmarish situation yet nothing is more hellish than reality television. In Dark Entries, brilliant crime fiction author Ian Rankin and artist Werther Dell’edera take John Constantine into darker territory … as a contestant on a reality television game show.
John Constantine has seen it all in his long career as a detective of the supernatural but the one thing that has him scratching his head is the popularity of reality television shows. Why would anyone want to tune in to see women viciously competing to become the next top model or voyeuristically watch the lives of a family falling apart before their very eyes? John has no answers but it isn’t until he finds a man he has never seen before in his house that he comes face-to-face with reality television.
You see, this man – named Matthew Keene – is a producer of a new hit reality game show called Dark Entries that is basically “Big Brother” meets “I Love Money” with a dash of “Scare Tactics” The object of the show is to place the contestants in a fake haunted mansion with a hidden room that contains a treasure so the first housemate to find it wins the game. All has been going well until all six contestants begin to react to horrors that aren’t produced by the show’s staff. Sensing a haunted set, Constantine decides to accept the job.
Then Constantine catches a glimpse of one of the contestants in the house named Stephanie from Nottingham who is terrified by something the camera doesn’t catch. Stephanie looks like somebody Constantine had known well, which is the reason why he allowed himself to sign a contract to appear on the show as a new addition to the household. What he finds are six contestants that are facing individual fears only they can see. For example, Stephanie sees a man on fire who is trying to communicate with her while Ishmael (the oldest contestant) sees the headlights of a ghost car that is heading straight for him. Then there’s a Japanese contestant who sees sharp syringes and an American contestant that sees a dead old woman.
It doesn’t take Constantine long to discover that this is more than just a case of a haunted mansion but rather something more unusual. As our favorite paranormal detective finds himself seeing a vicious cannibalistic murderer from his past, he comes to realize that the frights the others are experiencing aren’t CGI fabrications by Keene and his production crew. It doesn’t take him long to realize that each contestant is in some way connected to Stephanie.
Suddenly, the pieces of this mystery begin to make sense as Constantine realizes the truth about the house and the secret each contestant has unwittingly been hiding. What comes after Constantine learns the truth is true to the Hellblazer series so it’s great to see Constantine doing what he does best. Leave it to Ian Rankin to set up a truly memorable ending to this intelligently scripted story. While I enjoyed Dell’edera’s art in Vertigo’s own LOVELESS, it is not bad but not amazing.
In the end, what we have in Dark Entries is a classic John Constantine story that deserves to be among your collection if you’re a Hellblazer fan or simply appreciate a good suspense story with a supernatural twist. Ian Rankin simply does what he does best and thus makes this such an irresistible graphic novel true to Vertigo’s Vertigo Crime graphic novels. Trust me, this is one graphic novel you will not want to miss.
COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN
Despite the fact that he hates the reality television craze, supernatural detective John Constantine accepts a job that has him not only looking into the possible haunted reality TV show set but also becoming a contestant as well. Things are definitely not what they seem in this show.
Dell’edera’s art isn’t gorgeous but it does fit the theme perfectly enough to do justice to the supernatural creatures later in the series.
One of the best John Constantine graphic novels you will read this year, Dark Entries is a great read and a brilliant commentary on reality television. With master storyteller Ian Ranking and the art of Werther Dell’edera, you can’t go wrong and this graphic novel proves it so if you’re a John Constantine fan this is one you will definitely want to pick up.