The last time we saw the animated adventures of John Constantine (voiced by Matt Ryan), he had just saved the world and possibly the universe in the Justice League Dark: Apokolips War film, but at a great cost. Now it’s time for him to pay up in Constantine: The House of Mystery which gives us a look at what’s next for him along with three other DC animated shorts that brings back classic comic book fun and looks to start a new DC animated franchise of shorts.
With each episode running around 25 minutes or less, the first one has Constantine attempting to the pick up the broken pieces of his life after literally breaking all of the rules and laws of the universe to set things right after the Apokolips war. Things seem to be going well as he’s playing cards with his friends and even gets married to Zatanna and has kids, until he realizes he’s trapped in the House of Mystery with them and can’t escape.
Even worse is that once he learns of this, Zatanna and his friends turn into demons that kill him over and over again in both funny and brutal ways, leaving John to figure out why he’s trapped and who is behind this torture. The next short, “Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth!” has a young man named Kamandi living in a post-apocalyptic world where he’ll have to team up with friends and foes alike to overcome a dangerous trial.
“The Losers” (the same comic book characters the 2010 film was based on) has a ragtag group of World War II-era soldiers teaming up to save the world from a wormhole-like event that’s bringing dinosaurs through it, and lastly “Blue Beetle” is a campy but fun throwback to classic 60s cartoons filled with intentional animation and artwork mistakes from that era for good measure. It falls on Blue Beetle and the enigmatic hero The Question to team up and stop some bad guys from stealing a diamond to complete a machine to make everyone sad and depressed.
While it was kind of a bummer all of these shorts end on cliffhangers, as though hinting at another collection coming in the near future, I had a good time watching these mini adventures unfold. You can tell they were going for that old school feeling comic book fans have when they just go into a comic shop and start reading at random. They’ve managed to capture it perfectly here as I had no idea what direction these shorts where going to go in or knew little to nothing about them, which made them all the more fun to watch.
Thanks to having a Blu-ray release, the shorts look and sound great in high-definition and feature some nice Dolby 5.1 HD audio to boot. There’s only one special feature in the extras section, “DC Showcase: One Story at a Time”, but it’s a fun one filled with clips from the shorts spliced in between interviews with some of the directors, writers, and producers discussing these stories, how they came up with ideas for them, and more.
Some might be turned off by these shorts being cliffhangers, the different artwork and animation styles between them, and other small issues with them, but as long as you go into this collection with having classic, comic book fun in mind, you’ll do just that with Constantine: The House of Mystery. Here’s looking forward to seeing the follow-up to this collection which seriously can’t be released soon enough.