Contrary to our beliefs and wishes, moving forward from past words and deeds is often a most difficult undertaking. This applies to life and, most specifically our titular anti-hero, John Constantine. His enemies are legion and mistakes that have damned his soul immense yet he soldiers on, fruitlessly hoping to one day atone for his sins while channeling his energies to help the hopeless, all the while digging deeper and deeper into the unleashing of the Rising Darkness.John and Anne-Marie; former flames not on the best of terms
A young woman’s first night as a mother comes to a horrible end when a shadowy demon invades the Convent in which she sleeps, slaughters her and takes her child. Anne-Marie, a sister in the Mexico Convent and former lover of Constantine, calls up a favor from our Master of the Dark Arts, requesting his aide. Before he leaves, Constantine fills Zed in a bit on the backstory. Anne-Marie was the one who introduced him to the occult and was present in Newcastle. “She hates my guts,” he admits to his protégé, “must be pretty sodding desperate to need my help.” He leaves Zed behind as she’s still recovering from their Kentucky sojourn, but has Chas tag along. Their arrival in Mexico City brings quite the surprise for Constantine when he finds out that his former flame is a nun. She fills him in on the case and her decision to devote herself to a life of service though she’s retained her anger and distain for Constantine. The tension between the two doesn’t hold the resident expert on the occult back from doing his job. He tries using rune stones to divine the child’s kidnapper but they fail and he taps Anne-Marie to find a link to the child’s soul, in this case the placenta buried in the parents’ backyard. When they unearth it, the supernatural echoes hit and fruit of human flesh sprout from the surrounding trees. The ensuing blood rain from the fruit draws out Hugo, the baby’s father and Constantine gives him some good news; his baby’s alive and he knows who took him.
The two have a sit down with Hugo and John explains that one of Eve’s sisters and goddesses of hell, is responsible. Hugo has a hard time keeping the faith but Anne-Marie reminds him that “evil wins when we let it destroy our faith in the power of good.” They are called back to the Convent after the disappearance of a second baby, this one also a part of Hugo’s bloodline; a granddaughter he had no clue was coming into this world. One baby is a coincidence but two’s a pattern and they need to find out why this demon’s hellbent on Hugo’s bloodline. Constantine wants to do an unmasking spell and Anne-Marie’s disgusted by his bravado in doing such a thing on convent grounds. He’s tired of her constant sniping (even if he believes he deserves it) and harshly reminds her “saving lives requires choices that you’re not willing to make.” When he does the spell, it reveals Lamashtu, who had taken the guise of Sister Luisa, is responsible. After he narrowly escapes her wrath, Constantine lets the others in on her bio; a vampire of sorts, she thrives in the delicacy of human babies. Despite her insatiable appetite, she’s yet to chow down on the two she’s nabbed but why? They end up paying a visit to Hugo’s grandmother Pia, a native of Chile and when they tell him about the children, she’s stricken. “God help us,” she wails, “they are back.” The ‘they’ are la Brujeria, ancient and powerful warlocks that “wielded a magic the world hasn’t seen since God turned on the lights”. Seems that her grandfather was one and the Brujeria are pinpointing babes of his bloodline to strengthen their ranks. Again, the why comes into question and Constantine openly wonders how such beings could be so subtle…until he adds up all the facts and realizes the Brujeria are the catalysts behind the Rising Darkness.Trapped by an Invunche
Knowing now that Lamashtu is but a pawn, devise a lure for the goddess. They inject Hugo’s blood into a chicken and glamor the meat to look like a baby, but need to call the goddessto make the offering, then follow Lamshtu to her lair and the two babies. Anne-Marie volunteers for the task but before she steps in to summon Lamashtu, she and Constantine have a more civil heart to heart. He tries to absolve her of residual guilt for the Newcastle debacle while her failure is Constantine and introducing him to her world of the occult. He offers her the Icon of Pazuzu (Lamashtu’s former soul mate) and they share a lover’s kiss before Anne-Marie calls forth the goddess of hell. Things get a bit hairy when Hugo jumps the gun and starts spraying bullets. Lamashtu escapes into the tunnels but Constantine, Anne-Marie and Chas track her down and find the children. The demon cuts off their egress but Constantine holds her back on threat of killing one of the babes. His feint forces the demon’s hand and she reveals the Brujeria’s, to erase the boundaries separating Hell and earth, making them one and the same. He ends up banishing Lamashtu using the Icon and is leaving the sewers with Anne-Marie when they run afoul of an Invunche. More powerful than anything he’s ever come across, Constantine has no idea how they will get away but Anne-Marie solves the riddle, putting a bullet in our anti-hero so she and the baby can escape. It’s not just an act of selfish survival; she repeats his earlier words that “no price is too high to save the innocent.”
Though not along for the ride, Zed’s got into her own brand of trouble when, instead of staying indoors until Constantine returns, she ventures out into the world, running into the nude model Eddie at the art store. They go for drinks and are having a good time until she touches him and realizes he’s more than he appears. She ends up luring him to the millhouse where two of her ‘Father’s’ fanatics arrive to bring her home. After all, she’s their salvation. A disposable tool, Eddie’s killed by one of the zealots while Zed’s able to dispatch of the other by pushing the woman through a dimensional room leading to God knows where. She’s not fast enough though and the final zealot gets the jump on her and shoots her up with drugs to take her home.
- Though the catalyst behind the Rising Darkness has been discovered, there’s still work to be done. Constantine’s “Master of the Dark Arts” title will be tested as he’s coming face to face with some ancient beings that are in a weight class far exceeding his own. Though Manny was absent this week, Lord knows our resident expert in Exorcisms will need quite a bit of Heavenly aide if he’s to survive the coming year.
- But he’s not alone in the pickle; Zed (or should we call her ‘Mary’) has her own issues, taken by the zealots/crusaders sent by her father. Evidently she’s a Savior to their cause, but it begs the question; what is their cause? And does it line up with the domino effect led by the Rising Darkness?
- The above are but a few of the outstanding questions we’ve yet to have answered (add ‘what the heck is Chas?’ to that list as well) and will probably be waiting far longer than the end to this winter hiatus to be answered. Guess all we can do is wait and, like Constantine, hold onto to our butts.