The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher: A Johnny Constantine Graphic Novel features a younger DC Comics fan-favorite John Constantine. This is a Constantine who is 13 years old and dealing with some of the same issues other kids his age do and some issues not so similar at all. He’s the only person he knows who knows real magic!
I was provided with a free eARC of The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher: A Johnny Constantine Graphic Novel from DC Entertainment. All opinions are my own.
I’ve always been a more peripheral fan of Constantine. I watched the movie, the short-lived TV show, enjoyed some of the animated stuff he was in, and have read a trade or two. While I don’t know everything about John Constantine, I know enough to be familiar with the character, who he is, and what he can do. So, I was able to enjoy this different twist on a younger version of his character with that previous knowledge.
Please note that there will be some spoilers below.
The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher begins with our hero champion protagonist, 13-year-old John Constantine who prefers to go by “Kid” since his father’s name is also John. He goes to a local candy shop that also has a ghost candy shop if you know how to find it. Unfortunately, he steals and eats some chocolate which is used specifically to keep a demon at bay. In order to keep angry ghosts off his trail, he enlists the help of some demon friends.
The demons soon grow tired of Johnny and plant the idea in his parents’ head to send him to the Junior Success Boarding School in Salem, Massachusetts. Sadly, he doesn’t fit in any better at his new school than he did in his old school. He’s also pretty sure one of his teachers is not only a witch, but out to get him specifically. He does form a somewhat uneasy friendship with fellow outcast Anna who loves that Johnny can do real magic just like she can.
Johnny and Anna are both fairly convinced that Ms. Kayla is a witch, but they need to prove it. The two friends hit some bumps along the way as Johnny just isn’t very good at the whole friendship thing, but Anna is understanding while keeping her firm boundaries and willing to give Johnny another chance. What Johnny and Anna don’t know is that they are dealing with something even more sinister than they could have ever imagined!
Writer Ryan North is the Eisner and Harvey award-winning author of Adventure Time comics. He is also the writer of the New York Times bestselling award-winning Unbeatable Squirrel series. I feel that North has a good grasp of John Constantine and remains true to the character we know while making him an appropriate character for children to enjoy. North’s Constantine faces problems that children in school are familiar with but with a supernatural twist, making it fun.
Derek Charm provides the art. He is an Eisner Award-winning artist and illustrator. Charm was the artist for Jughead and Jughead’s Time Police comic series and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series. Charm provides very clean and animated art. The characters are expressive and full of movement. The art style is definitely something that children would enjoy, especially with the bright and fun colors.
The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher is intended for children ages 7+. There aren’t any warnings for this book despite there being ghosts and demons. None of them are particularly scary. Most of them in fact are Johnny Constantine’s friends!
I thought the story was quite entertaining. John Constantine was recognizable in his younger iteration. He thinks he’s amazing, but not without struggles. He also recognizes his failures and had some very real growth throughout the story. Johnny learned that he wasn’t so alone when he found a friend in both Anna and the friendly demon Etrigan who is famous for speaking only in rhymes. He also learned that he can’t abandon his friends when times get tough and that his friends will also be there for him as well.
Overall, I think that The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher is a fun story not just for middle-grade children, but there’s something for everyone to enjoy. There are familiar struggles, interesting plot and character development, along with some good lessons along the way. Not to mention a fun reveal at the end of the story on just who Anna actually is! You’re not going to want to miss this one!
Author: Jessica Rae
Jessica has a BA in music with an emphasis in voice and spends her day typesetting, editing, writing, and moderating webinars. Jessica primarily reviews anime and comic book series. She also offers insights on various movies, books, games, and other geeky topics.
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