Constantine 1.3 – The Devil’s Vinyl

papa-midnite_pictureboxart_160wWell, this is an interesting episode in that we see “Constantine”, the TV show, become both more and less like the comic.

More in that it’s got some of the earlier goofy artefacts as a major story engine – in this case a blues acetate that features the voice of “The First of the Fallen”.  Given the Angel’s comments, this is not the “First of the Fallen” from the comics, but that’s not really an issue.   The soul selling is a neat reference to Robert Johnson that pricked my geek gene nicely.

I’ve always had a bit of a problem with Papa Midnight, though, so I wasn’t really relishing his arrival in the show.  If it was up to me, I’d have held out until season two, but fan favourites are fan favourites, they will always win out.

Maybe I should explain my problem with ‘fan favourites’. I think they inevitably ruin the equilibrium of a comic.  For example, Venom was a cool, one-off, post-Secret Wars villainous coda. Bringing him back again and again robbed us of decent Spider-man tales.   Similarly when Wolverine effectively took over the X-men, the relationships we had built up with those characters were sidelined – and in some cases jettisoned – in favour of a one note character.  A comic is seriously compromised when it’s main characters become supporting artistes. I get that from a financial point of view they are a godsend, but I’m naive/romantic enough to think that comics are/should be art rather than purely a commercial prospect.

That said, Michael James Shaw did a great job of the part, being both wise and menacing. He has the same uneasy relationship with Constantine as in the comics in that at any moment could be ally or adversary. He lost a lot of weight though, and in a strange way this makes me a little uneasy.  It comes across as . . .  I dunno . . . Hollywood prettifying or something?  Can’t have a non-photogenic major character, can we?

Matt Ryan continues to do his impression of Constantine, rather than being at ease with the character.   I wish he’d relax a bit. Zed is proving to be more useful and a neat ‘counterpoint weird’ to Constantines no nonsense, surprising ‘directness’, but my big ‘what the hell is going on there’ feeling still rests with the death defying Chas.  I’d rather than was at least addressed before bringing in another major player like Midnight.  But that’s all by the by really, Midnight is here, he was after the voice on the acetate for whatever reasons and a begrudging temporary alliance is formed. Even after a little light bondage and chemical threat.

There was a moment that was just unbearably cheesy and then wholly right at the same time – the mention of Mucous Membrane, Constantines punk band, inevitably lead to hearing the Sex Pistols.  It could have been any Punk single, it wouldn’t have mattered, but choosing that one was just lazy shorthand.

After last weeks leanness of plot, this episode promises us much.  There are threads appearing, mysteries revealing themselves and the threat of something bigger.   We have a cast that is intriguing at the very least – although I’m not really seeing the point of the Angel – and when push comes to shove, I’d agree that this is a show that:

  1. Is showing a huge amount of promise
  2. Slowly finding it’s own voice, and
  3. Actually doing justice, whilst not being slavish, to the source material.

I’m liking this show more and more. Bearing in mind how sniffy I was about it when first announced, this is a pretty major turn around.  It still seems a little unformed and uncertain of itself but that can be fixed; mostly by Matt Ryan easing into the character.

Don’t blow it, guys.



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