I don’t read Hellblazer on a regular basis, but I have fond memories of Lady Johanna Constantine from her two-issue stint in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series. In that worthy series, she was contracted to procure a rather interesting and personal item of great magical power for Morpheus, the king of dreams.
In this series, we find Johanna working in similar circumstances, though in less prosperous times than in the Sandman Series. Johanna Constantine is not a Lady (the Constantine family lands and title having been seized years earlier) but she has been contracted by the British government to procure a box of great magical importance in exchange for the return of the land and title. Accompanying Johanna on this quest are Mouse (a young girl disguised as a boy), Rafe (a lovable rogue; old friend and love to Johanna) and Jack-In-The-Green (a plant-elemental and precursor to Swamp Thing)/
Johanna is an independent woman in a time when most women were wives or whores and she is every bit the equal of her eventual ancestor, John Constantine. She has no small amount of magical talent but depends more upon her abilities as a con artist and making people think she is more powerful than she really is. Thankfully, she does have some magic talent as she finds herself tested by the mysterious Lady Blackwood, who also seeks the box and has an army of undead minions to help her get it.
And that sums up where we enter on this issue, with the crew of Rafe’s ship preparing for a battle against the undead hordes and Johanna and Mouse prepare for a more spiritual fight to keep Lady Blackwood from the box.
Most of the issue is bloody, ripping Vertigo action with not much in the way of character or plot development, save for some revelations regarding the contents of the magic box and why Lady Blackwood wants it so badly… but that would be telling.
You’re probably not going to enjoy this book unless you’re a ferocious fan of The Sandman or Hellblazer. Swamp Thing lovers might pick this up for an all too rare appearance of Jack-In-The-Green. Otherwise, this series really doesn’t have much to offer other than another look at a wonderful and underused character.