Writer: Simon Spurrier
Art: Charlie Adlard
Colors: Sofie Dodgson
Letters: Jim Campbell
For the fans of the old Hellblazer series, comic book releases have been difficult. Time and time again there were attempts at bringing old Con Job back into the ninth art. Until late 2019 when Simon Spurrier led a revival of classic Vertigo titles with a twist for the modern. Sadly, John Constantine: Hellblazer was swiftly non-extended. Spurrier has then stuck to my personal radar as one of the best writers of occult-related stories and it was written in the stars: there’s a new series about the niece.
Damn Them All #1 starts off by establishing Ellie, the protagonist, and how she came across the world of dark magick through her Uncle Alfie who was a hard drinker wizard and a big deal in London’s spookier circle – wink, wink. We’re guided through Ellie’s first invocation spell which, as the book states very clearly, takes months and a lot of work. This is an important piece of lore for the story. Ellie faints at the sight of her first actual demon. The chapter then cuts to Ellie attending Alfie’s wake side by side with London’s criminals. Cut to the get-together at a pub where a New Orleans police officer is looking for Ellie for yet unknown reasons. Ellie then has to deal with a demonic presence, out of the blue, in the middle of the pub. One thing is clear for our main character: this invocation was too easy.
Spurrier, yet again, delivers from day one. Golly gee, the man can write wizardry stuff. The writer has a grasp on many of the iffy aspects of textbook magick and incorporates those in the comic’s main plot. The exposition is very tame for a first issue, focusing mostly on Ellie’s background and leaning into internal dialogue which is signature in mystery-driven stories and works wonders in occult-themed comics. Ellie is what would have happened to Gemma Masters had Constantine paid her any mind. She’s snarky, smart, and an extremely powerful wizard because of the two previous qualities. There’s a lot of John Constantine and that’s undeniable but Ellie comes across as more intelligent and careful having learned from a person that seems to have been as troublesome as John.
Charlie Adlard handles the line art for the series and does so quite nicely. The character designs are unique while remaining down-to-earth, with every minor character carrying a real and tangible background making every scene more real. The facial anatomy bothered me in a panel or two but I might just be nitpicking. The design for Andromalius – the demon that pops up at the pub – and the demon at the beginning of the issue – who I’m guessing is supposed to be Stolas – are incredible in the way they convey otherworldly power.
Coloring, by Sofie Dodgson, complements Adlard’s designs and settings precisely. Not only due to the demons’ looks but also for the background transitions. London is dull and mundane, Wax’s nightclub is noisy and confusing, Wax’s office is suffocating, him being a crime boss. It’s really a great demonstration on how to color backgrounds.
The lettering carries the same charm as the rest of the comic. Whispers and stuff that’s usually said under one’s breath are depicted in a smaller and clearer font. There are various degrees of screaming, one overlapping the previous one with higher intensity. And, of course, each demon has its own speech bubble. It’s a fun and creative approach to lettering that really engages the reader with the comic.
If it’s not obvious yet I freaking loved the first issue of Damn Them All and I can’t wait for the next one. It’s an interesting reimagining of a beloved classic comic and it works so damn well. Extreme recommendation for John Constantine fans.
Damn Them All #1
- Great new magic-themed story
- Fun lettering
- Anatomy gets a bit weird in some panels
- Pure text pages sort of break the reading flow