High On Life, Part 1 of 2
Writer : Mike Carey
Pencils : Steve Dillon
Cover Artist : Tim Bradstreet
Inks : Jimmy Palmiotti
Colors : Lee Loughridge
Letters : Clem Robins
Editor : Will Dennis
Solicitation Text : So far as the world at large is concerned, Constantine
died in a prison riot a year-and-a-half ago -- and being dead has its advantages
for someone with John's peculiar lifestyle. But he needs to set the record straight
with what's left of his family. So he returns to Liverpool, the place of his birth,
to see his sister Cheryl. There he finds her living in a rotting council block
plagued by suicides and inexplicable acts of violence: a killer with a straight-edged
razor is stalking the city; a strange old woman is dogging John's movements; and
there's a mysterious agenda being played out that seems to promise nothing but evil
for the last surviving members of the Constantine family. It's enough to make a man
blow his cover...while this new storyline will blow your mind.
Issue Synopsis : Eighteen month’s later.
A bearded stranger arrives into Liverpool pier on a garbage boat. Obviously wanting to keep a low
profile, he only stops long enough to pay off the boat’s captain and light up a cigarette before hopping
onto a bus and leaving the waterfront behind.
Over in the Elster Tower’s flat complex, a disgruntled former employee of Harland and Wolfes hangs
himself. When the police finally arrive on the scene, they busy themselves trying to untie the hanged
man. As they try to pull witnesses from the assembled ranks of rubberneckers, the bearded man shows
up and trades quips with the police before making his way to flat number five. Knocking on the door,
the man is greeted by a stunned Cheryl Masters, shocked to find herself face to face with her brother –
John Constantine – a man she thought long dead. Furious at him for staying out of touch for so long
and leaving his family to think he was dead, Cheryl catches Constantine with a stinging slap across his
face. The pair get reacquainted over a bottle of cheap wine and a few cans of beer, Cheryl tells John
that she was the one who called the police to tell them about the hanged man and later explains that her
daughter, Gemma, was devastated after hearing of John’s death, suggesting that the news played a
major part in her moving to France to become a teaching assistant. Constantine makes plans to meet
Cheryl later in the evening before heading out to take care of some business.
John drops into a greasy spoon café, “Uncle Joe’s”, to partake of breakfast and dig up some
background on Elster Towers. Constantine learns of two other incidents that occurred there – one
involving a man who put his wife’s eyes out, the other some kids who skinned a dog. One of the café’s
waitresses wanders up to John and starts to talk to him about magic. In no mood to entertain whatever
romantic notions she may have on the subject, a sullen Constantine tries to put her firmly in her place
but instead finds her more than capable of trading jibes with him. John tells her that Elster Towers is
“a great big spike of evil sticking out of a field of dead grass”. The waitress suggests that he should
check the Tenants’ Register. Giving Constantine her phone number, she introduces herself as Angie
Spatchcock and leaves the Englishman with some familiar words “I’m a real piece of work, ask
Checking the tenants’ register, John learns that outside of the Master’s family, there were three new
recent arrivals at Elster Towers Dunbar, Trestle and Wren. With their details in hand, Constantine
returns to the flats to check out his new leads. On entering the flat complex, Constantine can’t help but
notice a palatable sickness in the air. The Dunbar’s turn out to be an innocuous middle aged married
couple. Trestle is in fact Reverend Trestle. John’s efforts at checking in on Mrs Gladys Wren go awry
when he is confronted by her imposing son who threatens to toss Constantine back down the stairs he’d
just climbed. The timely arrival of the boy’s mother allows John to beat a hasty retreat, but not before
he notes some odd markings around the doorframe of the old woman's flat. Later that
night, whilst waiting in a pub for his sister, Constantine phones Angie to tell her that he felt a weird
sense of peace and contentment emanating from Mrs Wren’s flat. Angie blows off John’s invite to join
him in the pub, telling him that she’s about to wash her hair when she’s in fact on the way out the door.
Cheryl and her husband, Tony, eventually show up. When his sister retires to the bathroom,
Constantine finds himself sharing harsh words with Tony when he learns that she’s on tranquillisers.
Angie sets up some ordinance survey equipment outside of Elster Towers as Cheryl returns to the two
arguing men. Clearly emotionally distraught, Cheryl bemoans Gemma’s absence as John tries to
convince her to leave the flat complex. Tony loses his temper with the magus and accuses him of
being at fault for his wife’s condition. Cheryl in turn loses her patience with both men and tells
Constantine to get his stuff out of their flat and to leave them alone. Angie’s foray into the field of
ordinance surveying is derailed when trains her equipment on Mrs Wren’s flat. The woman herself
appears in her window and Angie is sent reeling backwards. Before she can hit the ground, Mrs
Wren’s son, who’s accompanied by another man, catches her. The second man pulls a razor blade and
the pair starts to assault the still faint Angie.
John, Tony and Cheryl – who are all on their way back to the Master’s flat – interrupt the assault and
chase the two men off. An incoherent and badly cut Angie seems to suggest to Constantine that the
sickness is spreading out in a ring from Wren’s flat.
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Welcome back, John.
A postcard from Gemma - but no return address ?
Angie's investigations take a turn for the violent.