First off, I’d like to apologize for the long hiatus on this review. I’ll write a post about that in a moment.
I used to do a collaboration review with Tumblr blogger vivvav. You can read his review here. Please do check his blog for other comic reviews (and other various things his blog contains).
Now, I rarely write my reviews briefly, so I hope you have plenty of time reading it. BUT BEWARE! THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!
Continued from “The Phantom Stranger" #14, the Trinity of Sin stand shackled before the Justice League Dark in The Rock of Eternity - the place where the Trinity of Sin first joined together. Constantine wants to have a chat with them but the Swamp Thing is concerned that the chains won’t hold long enough, which Constantine foolishly shrugged off. The next moment they release themselves from their chains with use of their ancient magic.
This is a sign that you should start running.
The two groups begins fighting each other where the trinity has the advantage, but Stranger doesn’t want to risk his own salvation so he silences them all with a great power.
He can be somewhat scary when enraged.
The setting changes and they are in the House of Mystery - The Rock of Eternity was only an illusion created by Constantine to unnerve the trinity of their bond that unite them. Pandora admits that they still didn’t know why, so Stranger gets the answer they seek from Constantine straight from the mind of the man. (Constantine’s memories shows the events in Constantine and/or Justice League Dark series that I haven’t been following.)
Constantine pulls himself away from Stranger and admits the JLD needs their help, though The Question is having none of it and vanishes into thin air. Pandora decides to help them and it’s all up to Stranger. The Nightmare Nurse reminds Stranger that he owe her a favor when she saved him once, but he’s only interested in the silver coin that Constantine is taunting him with. And then this happens - something we all have been waiting for.
Thank you! He totally deserved it.
He tries to leave the house but it’s like a labyrinth. He keeps walking until he finds himself in Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified. His past memories pierces his soul and fills him with sorrow and shame. No matter how he struggles toward his own redemption, he will always be haunted by the images of his past and be reminded that he has still a long way to go to reach salvation’s road.
Meanwhile, Dr. Thirteen and Chris are witnessing the riots on the streets and New York City is in flames as the moon is in a perpetual eclipse. Dr. Thirteen suggests Chris to rest, but Chris is too concerned about the world coming down and believes the darkness is infecting them all. He considers about going home and see his family. Dr. Thirteen calms the young man by simply saying that no matter how dark and terrible things get, it will get better and the sun will shine again. Chris however remarks the irony that the words came from a man who attempted suicide a few days ago, but he quickly apologized for being insensitive. The doctor reminds him that he was saved by Chris’ light and is a proof of a new hope. Still Chris isn’t convinced and regrets that Stranger brought him back from Heaven, as he is not the same person he used to be. Beaten, he retreats to his room. And so it begins…
"—will be my vessel."
Back to Golgotha. Pandora comes up to Stranger and explains that it’s the House of Mystery that is casting the illusion of Golgotha because a part of him wants to be there. Stranger admits he never knew the answer of his question: Why did he betray the son of God? Pandora questions if his past actions were truly wrong because the world wouldn’t have been the same if he hadn’t fulfilled it.
Pandora and Stranger walks to a new location, an ancient city reflected from Stranger’s soul, though he admits he’s never seen it before. Pandora tells him she’s been in the city once…
Meanwhile, we look briefly in the city of Los Angeles where Blue Devil and Black Lightning are working on stopping the riot until they get overmanned by monsters and Blue Devil is being kidnapped to I-don’t-know-what-the-heck-what’s-going-on. It was so random and short, so let’s get back to the other duo. Things are heating up there.
Pandora suggests Stranger to unfold the memories of his past life but Stranger has had enough of being manipulated and hearing lies so he sends everything to the skies in a fit of rage. That broke the spell and they’re back in the House of Mystery among the Justice League Dark members. Albeit crossed he decides to help the JLD to stop Blight, but only because it’s his own choice. The Swamp Thing gives Stranger a gift that he deserves.
Even his team members are tired of Constantine.
However, Stranger doesn’t want to keep it so he gives it to Nightmare Nurse as a payment for saving his life earlier. While the JLD plan their next move, something’s going on elsewhere. Chris is struggling against a darkness within himself, to no avail. It devours him and Blight takes over.
"—as I am a reflection of man’s."
Dr Thirteen hears the noise and goes upstairs, but the door explodes when Blight leaves the room, knocking him out. (Blight hasn’t understand the concept of opening doors yet.) Blight wants payback after Constantine had invaded his realm and challenged him. Challenge accepted.
Back in the House of Mystery, Constantine hasn’t finished explaining his plan when a loud noise and turmoil interrupts him. The House of Mystery screams (even buildings have feelings you know) and the team spins helplessly in a cyclone of dark consciousness. Stranger realizes that Blight has come seeking them. They fall to the ground with a great explosion that could have killed any human being. But not these people.
And so this story ends in a cliffhanger that will continue in “Constantine" #9.
My final thoughts
I had mixed feelings about this one. I was sympathetic and sad when Stranger was on Golgotha, then very confused about his other past (how many pasts has he had? Or was it really a lie?). The random scene with Blue Devil and Black Lighting didn’t get me any wiser. But I got very interested in the dialogue between Stranger and Pandora, as Pandora has the same point as I always had: If it wasn’t for him, there would be no crucifixion. He was merely a pawn of God’s plan.
I don’t think I have anything more to comment about the story. I’m still loving the artwork by Fernando Blanco and Brad Andersen, they do such a neat work with it and vary the layout page by page to fit in both emotional moments and dynamic actions.
And so ends my review. Thank you for taking your time to read this long post.