By Emily Rome
Updated July 24, 2014 at 03:45 PM EDT
Quantrell Colbert/NBC

NBC is placing its bets on Constantine, and that’s clear at Comic-Con, where a big interactive display for the upcoming show has taken over Gaslamp Square and ads for the series cover many of the buses in San Diego for the convention. Executive produced by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight, Da Vinci’s Demons), the series is based on DC Comics’ Hellblazer, which also spawned the 2005 Constantine film starring Keanu Reeves.

Fans got their first taste of the new show at Comic-Con’s Wednesday night pilot screenings. Here’s what they thought.

“I liked it. It definitely followed the feeling of the comic,” said Will, 45, of San Diego.

The otherworldly beings and dark arts Constantine encounters in the comic books were present in the pilot too, but that may not be a point in the show’s favor. Kyle, 34, of Phoenix said, “They need to find a different niche of the magic universe—the angels-and-demons thing has been overdone. They’re kind of going over some stuff we’ve seen done infinitely over TV and film.”

Welsh actor Matt Ryan’s portrayal of the lead character got mixed reviews from the Comic-Con crowd:

“It was great. Good casting,” said Andy, 20. “He seemed like a very badass character, and I’m a big fan of David Goyer, so it looks like a very promising show.”

“They really nailed the Constantine character,” said Kyle, 34, of Phoenix.

Murray, 38, of Los Angeles wasn’t so easily won over: “I didn’t like the lead guy,” he said. “It seems like he’s trying so hard to not care, to be the disaffected, ‘I have all this trauma and drama in my life, but I don’t care.’ Keanu Reeves did it better—and that’s Keanu Reeves.”

The absence of a cigarette in Constantine’s hand was noticed by attendees, with some acknowledgement that the his chain smoking is difficult to portray on network TV. Ann, 38 of San Diego, pointed out that the character detail from the comic books got a nod with Constantine playing with his lighter in the pilot.

Will said the new series’ Constantine “definitely has the right attitude” and joked that the cynical, snarky character might have a “worse than usual attitude cause he’s nic-ing all the time.”

(The show’s producers recently assured EW that the Constantine of the show is a heavy smoker, even if we don’t see it.)

Lucy Griffith’s turn as Liv Aberdine got some lukewarm and positive responses, even though NBC is dropping her from the cast and replacing her with a new female lead—Angelica Celaya, playing comic character Zed.

Griffith’s performance worked better for Murray than Ryan’s. “The girl was awesome,” he said. “I really liked her. She was cute. She was believable.”

Ann said, “I hope they keep [the new female lead] more nice-girl, not bimbette. They like to play up those types of female comic book characters. I liked that [Liv] was a normal girl who was dealing with abnormal circumstances instead of somebody who was created by costume and overly womanized.”

“They cast someone who looked a lot like Rachel Weisz from the Constantine movie, almost eerily like her—almost like they were trying to cater to fans of that film, or at least people who had seen that film,” Kyle observed. “Her character was fine. I’m not sure what could have been done differently.”

The premiere is set for Friday, Oct. 24.