John Constantine is not a nice guy, although he's got his charm and wit, meaning that the ladies often love him. However, being nice is not something he does well, at least not when the fate of the world is in his hands.
In the first story arc of Constantine: The Hellblazer, John must save his ghost friends from a monster that eats the spirits of the dead, leaving nothing of their souls behind. These ghosts are dead in the first place because of their affiliation with John, so perhaps he must save them in an effort to save himself from his overwhelming guilt: everyone he comes into contact with always suffers.
In Constantine: The Hellblazer #5, John finally confronts the ghost-eating monster, especially now that he knows who it once was and what created it: as usual, the monster exists because of something John did, something of which he's not proud. Now, he has to become even more of a jerk to deal with the monster because that's just who he is.
The writing in this issue by Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV wraps John completely up in his guilt, as we've always seen him in his past. The writing reveals a man who desperately wants to do the right thing, but it's never quite as easy as that. Although the identify of the monster was revealed in the previous issue, it still remains as surprising at the beginning of #5 as it is in #4.
This is probably the most shocking issue of Constantine: The Hellblazer, especially considering the end of the story, which doesn't compromise John's morally gray soul, keeping true to his character, even though John's final actions in this arc make him a fairly revolting individual (and yet, still somehow likable). This is John as we knew him in previous stories about him.
The artwork by Scott Kowalchuk and Riley Rossmo, with colors by Ivan Plascencia, feels like a throwback to John's Hellblazer days, and works especially well when switching from the flashback scenes to what's happening in the modern day. The depiction of the ghost-eating monster, in all its tentacled glory, is also particularly hideous, something that could give younger readers nightmares for days.
Page 10 is especially gorgeous to look at, as the artists show Victoria's descent into madness and how she slowly becomes the thing John must ultimately fight.
Constantine: The Hellblazer #5 is available now at comic book stores and on ComiXology.