John Constantine is called back to his home town of Liverpool by the family of a dying old woman, the woman’s son a friend of Constantine’s disappeared in 1968 and has never been heard of since. Her dying wish is for him to find out what happened to her son a task he reluctantly agrees to, he begins by serching his untouched room were he comes across an old photo of a bridge.
Now this sets up the story very nicely but doesn’t quite fit with the John Constanine I have been reading these last 20 odd years. John is not a complex character he cares only about himself, and will do all he can to make sure number 1 again himself is safe, sound and happy. So a trip to Liverpool to meet the mother of a friend he hasn’t seen since 1968, a mother who admits to never liking him just seems out of character to me.
However after taking on the task he goes about finding his friend in the only way he knows how, which include talking with the dead in Highgate cematry over a cig or two, pulling in a favour from a bent copper to gain acces to the room of another missing child, and threatening a young boy so that he hands over his missing brothers Facebook password.
All in a days work for John Constantine.
As his investigations dig deeper Constantine aided by his 23 year old wife Epiphany (where dose he find the energy), discover that over the years there has been several kids who have simply vanished. All have a conection to the same bridge shown in the photo that Constantine found , with a little more digging they find the bridge was known as Suicide Bridge. The bridge had been pulled down years ago but it still has a taste for death, and targets unhappy youngsters by connecting with them via a photo of its self. In the old days it connected by post, today’s kids get a text or are poked through facebook, the dangers of technology subplot there I think.
The final confrontation with the ghostly bridge sees our anti hero come face to face with his missing friend Tim, who blames John for the fate that has befallen him. Rejecting any help from his one time best friend, Tim tells Constantine to go to hell as the bridge crumbles around them Tim falls back to limbo Constantine barley escapes with his life.
John returns to the old woman who thinks he is her son Tim, again showing a softer side as he doesn’t correct her and plays the role of her missing boy. His more manipulative side is shown when he helps her over to the other side, a trick he was shown by a Aborigine.
Now this wouldn’t be a Hellblazer story if there wasn’t a twist and its a twist I didnt see coming, we are taken back to 1968 and shown an unhappy John Constantine who has been sent a photo of a bridge through the post. His friend Tim has taken a liking to it so John says he he can have it, three days later Tim disapears never to be seen again.
Did Constantine know what this photo could do, and did he sacrifice his friend to save himself either deliberately or subconsciously, we are not given a definitive answer its left for us to decide as we are told ''even back then it wasnt safe to be a friend of John Constantine''.
Peter Milligans story captures some of the better elements of a John Constantine story, and I do like his slightly battle weary interpretation of the character. Also having the bridge as the main villain is a unnerving twist on your normal ghost story, giving you a feeling that nothing is safe safe not even a bridge.
Simon Bisley art is not always to everyone’s taste, but coupled with Brian Cipriano's inks it fits the mood and tone of this book perfectly.
The story is a self contained and one I enjoyed immensely, the only down side was the £3.50 price tag a £1 less would have been a fairer price.