John Constantine: Dark Entries, written by Ian Rankin, illustrated by Werther Dell’edera (2009): DC’s Vertigo Crime imprint releases black-and-white graphic novels in a normal (for print, not comics) hardcover-sized format. Technically, this isn’t really a crime (graphic) novel, and would have made more sense as part of DC’s normal Constantine releases. However, author Rankin is best known for his detective series starring Scottish hardcase Inspector Rebus, so I assume that simple fact went into the decision as to the proper format.
Rankin does a solid job here of giving us a standalone story about Vertigo’s (and now and again the normal DC Universe’s) jaded, working-class English occult detective/magician John Constantine. A British reality-show producer offers Constantine a wad of money to investigate why it is that the contestants on a reality show are being haunted by strange visions and occurrences. Constantine joins the cast, and weirdnesses multiply.
Rankin nails Constantine’s bruised and damaged cynical heroism, that of a man who’s opposed demons and angels in his day and knows enough to trust neither side. Artist Dell’edera didn’t impress me much in colour on the short-lived Loveless Western series, but here black-and-white seems to have freed him up an awful lot — there are hints of B&W hardboiled master Jose Munoz in the work here — and the work remains grounded in a grimy reality regardless of how weird things get on the supernatural end. All this and Sawney Beane too. Recommended.