Constantine: City of Demons season 1 review


Constantine: City of Demons feels like it’s the animation of an actual comic book run.

The episodes are short, and each focuses on one story at a time. While the streamlined nature of the series is a welcome surprise, it still feels too condensed. Depending on Matt Ryan’s filming schedule, these five episodes could mark the end of the web-series.

Right off the bat, animation fits the darker world of John Constantine better than live-action. It allows for the showrunners to explore more aspects of the character compared to the short-lived NBC series.

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Constantine: City of Demons is also able to bring some of the violence that accompanied the Hellblazer comics without too much fuss.

The only drawback comes in the way the magical spells come across. A lot of those scenes look/feel a little too much like Marvel’s Doctor Strange compared to the rest of the show.

Comic book fans will recognize the main storyline from the beginning of “Episode One” as an adaption of All His Engines. Chas comes to John for help after his daughter, Tricia, has fallen into a mysterious coma. It takes the occult legend all of a few seconds to realize some dark magic is afoot and call in some help.

He conjures Asa The Nightmare Nurse, a relatively new character in DC Comics, to come do a full examination. Unfortunately, this leads the two to realize that Tricia’s soul has already been taken from her body. A disgusting demon head happily pops up to dare John to find him in Los Angeles knowing the detective will have no choice but to come.

Chas and John promptly jump on the plane but Constantine: City of Demons takes a break from their story. Instead, the former’s ex-wife recounts the story of the traumatic Newcastle incident. It’s mentioned throughout the web-series and fans know that it shapes detective into the man he is.

This whole backstory is precisely where the choice to animate the show is excellent. There’s no possible way a live-action story could convey a lot of the necessary pieces for the origin.

Teenage John and Chas are two aspiring punk rockers who happen upon dark magic under the Casanova Club. Turns out the owner has been practicing the occult with his young daughter as a magical vessel.

The story is narrated by Chas’ ex-wife and she points out that John could have called the police to save her. Instead, he chooses to summon a massive demon to showcase his own abilities. Naturally, things take a turn for the worse when the monster ends up murdering hundreds before grabbing the girl. It’s a night that haunts both of them, but none more than poor loyal Chas.

Asa makes Renee forget but the episode helps the audience understand the tense dynamic between the characters. John witnessed how his own hubris can cause utter annihilation while Chas is helpless to it all. For viewers who haven’t read the comics, this backstory helps flesh out Constantine’s past without overshadowing the main plot.

Back to the main event, the two men land in Los Angeles and arrive at the creepy house. They’re greeted by a pig butler tells them to wait while he fetches Master Beroul. John is a man of action not words, so he quickly goes searching for answers within the poorly maintained mansion.

Unfortunately, he walks directly into an indoor pool full of dead bodies and a disgusting demon. Beroul looks like a mix of Jabba the Hut and the scarecrow, which is apparently pretty comic book accurate.

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As entertaining as Constantine: City of Demons is, the series doesn’t manage to stick the landing. Beroul has kidnapped Tricia but only as leverage to force John to work for him. This is a major part of the All His Engines story but definitely not the conclusion.

The season ends with Constantine agreeing as long as he’s handsomely compensated and Chas stranded on top of a building. That’s by far a satisfying ending for fans who were hoping to see a more of the character.

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Overall, Constantine: City of Demons is a fun thirty minutes to watch. Matt Ryan proves once again why so many people love him as the titular character in both animation and live-action.

Fortunately, fans will soon get to see a lot more of him thanks to Legends of Tomorrow but hopefully, he does more animated work. The web-series can use a proper ending even if it’s only a couple of short episodes.