Along with Brian Azzarello’s Filthy Rich, also released this past week, Dark Entries marks the launch of the Vertigo Crime line of comics. Rather than collecting monthly issues into a trade and calling it a graphic novel, entries in the Vertigo Crime line will be a single story released in novel form. And while Azzarello’s Filthy Rich is noir by a master of the form in comics, Dark Entries is a John Constantine story by an internationally acclaimed novelist, meant to draw an audience.
Unfortunately, they didn’t pick the strongest title to do so, instead going for name recognition. Dark Entries is by no means a bad book – Rankin’s story is an engaging twist on the haunted house scenario, and he has the character of John Constantine down surprisingly well. It’s a fun, slight story that isn’t helped by the fact that, for all his acclaim as a novelist, Rankin is quite new at writing comics. The dialogue is occasionally extremely clunky, and the social commentary is heavy handed at best.
Dell’edera fares better on art. Shadows are used quite expressively throughout, the characters are all distinct and recognizable, and the pages of the book actually shift from a white background to black to signify a major plot twist. All-in-all, Dell-edera’s art is stylish and suitable, and while it isn’t flashy enough to stand out, it gets the job done quite well.
Despite some heavy-handedness, Dark Entries is a relatively solid book. It’s hardly the best Constantine story you can find, and I suspect it’s far from the best Rankin book you can find, either, but fans of the character shouldn’t leave too disappointed, and it’s more than stand-alone enough to draw in new fans. Fun and just a little creepy, with a hard edge of cynicism and a dark twist, Dark Entries suggests that the Vertigo Crime line might one day be something impressive, if it gets over a few initial speed-bumps.
– Cal Cleary