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What are Hellblazer's special powers?


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#1 QuietScholar

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 04:33 AM

I just wanted to dicuss the manner in which John has worked his magic throughout the series and how its rather indicative of his character.

First things first - except with big events, the vast majority of the time everything is, thankfully, low key.  In comics and other sources of fiction, the image of the sorceror brings forth visions of fireballs and lightning bolts and dimensional portals and such - somewhat like Dr. Fate i suppose.

So while a character like Dr. Fate is fighting off the Lords of Chaos, Order, whatever and is in the realm of high fantasy - our dear John is rather well grounded into the world.   He's a Con Man first, making him more of a "street magus" or occultist than a sorceror/wizard/what have you.

Now on to his actions:

Summonings -  I think this is probably one of the most telling signs of John's personality.   From Newcastle onward, John has always made use of summonings.  And more often than not, he's either trying to manipulate whatever he summons up much like he does with humans - whether this is to cut a deal, or get (fill in blank) to solve the problem he's currentl facing.

We see immediately with the Newcastle Incident - John attempting to use Nergal against the Norfulthing.

All His Engines also serves up another classic example:  John attempting to use Mictlantecuhtli against the demons.

The FotF and the other 2 Lords, Blathoxi, Fuckpig - all summoned either as part of his Con or to save him from some sort of impending doom.


Can anyone else remember any other nasties that JC's pulled screaming from the ether?

#2 Andy Diggle

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 09:02 AM

This is something I've been looking at myself: what exactly are John's magical abilities? How much of it is for real, and how much is just smoke and mirrors?

Here's what I've dug up so far, partly based on the list of "Powers and Abilities" in John's Wikipedia entry:

- Used magical sigils to bind the Hunger Demon within Gary Lester (HB # 2)
- Summoned the demon Blathoxi, then descended to Hell to chat with him (HB # 3)
- Used a pendulum and map to "divine" the location of a magical disturbance. (HB #4 and #182)
- John considers using a memory-blocking sigil on himself (HB # 9)
- Summoned the demon Nergal to destroy a monster for him, but lost control because he didn’t know its true name (HB #11)
- Used a magical pendulum and number-wheel to divine the correct combination to unlock Jehosophat O’Flynn’s safe (HB # 24)
- Placed a curse on his father that caused him to waste away (HB #31)
- Placed a magical sigil on a succubus that prevented the forces of Heaven and Hell from tracking her (HB #60)
-       Drew a sigil "gate" to send the demonic Fuckpig back to Hell (HB # 133)
- "Astrally projected" himself into Sparrowfart’s flat, in which form he was capable of audible speech and throwing a lamp, despite being invisible (HB # 136)
- Raised a golem (HB #167)
-       Used a magical incantation and a handful of ash to try and divine the location of Scrape Gillis's soul... but the trail was three months cold (HB # 177)
-       Used a magical incantation to exorcise the murderous goddess Kali from the body of a possessed mobster (HB # 180)
-       Summoned an Angel to show the Tate Club members how each of their lives would end (HB # 215)
- Erased Chris Cole's traumatic memories (Hellblazer #217)

Must be lots of examples I'm missing. What else?
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#3 Mr. Tom Willecome

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 09:17 AM

Here's my reading of it and this really is just one man talking here; John has no "powers" as such. He's an adept, which means that he understands magic and it's rules and can perform certain acts of magic by following and/or adapting these rules to suit himself.
The way I see it, it's a similar process to you or I following a recipe to bake a cake; there are certain rules/ingredients you have to use to make it work but there's room to introduce other ideas/ingredients to suit your needs at the time.
I'd say he's also a gifted hypnotist. He's attempted to monkey with people's minds before (I'm thinking specifically of then hippie bird in the Fear Machine who then spikes him with the fly argaric mushrooms and probably the S&M parlour in Ashes and Dust).

But that's pretty much conjecture and I suspect it should probably stay as such.
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#4 Jon

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 09:28 AM

"Magic is saying what everyone wants to hear when they want to hear it"

John Constantine in the "Hellbalzer encyclopedia A-Z"
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#5 Andy Diggle

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 10:15 AM

QUOTE (Mr. Tom Willecome @ Mar 10 2007, 09:17 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
John has no "powers" as such...

The way I see it, it's a similar process to you or I following a recipe to bake a cake; there are certain rules/ingredients you have to use to make it work but there's room to introduce other ideas/ingredients to suit your needs at the time.

Yep, that's how I see it too.

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#6 James

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 10:39 AM

Pretty much what Tom said - he knows the rules and, unlike gods and demons, he's able to operate outside them and bend or break them as he sees fit. And yeah, he can probably cobble together a spell out of odds and ends if he has to.

As for the list: Nerd powers... activate!

(This isn't comprehensive - I haven't read most of this stuff for five years now)

DELANO
1- Hypnotises Gary Lester with watch; sensitive enough to see ghosts.
2- Binds Mnemoth to Gary.
4- Uses makeshift pendulum to find Gemma on a map.
10- Manipulates Astral Planes to flee Nergal.
11- Summons Nergal.
12- Uses sigils to hide from Nergal, summons Nergal, alters his own brainwaves to enter stupid computer world.
15- Entrances a girl with just his fingers (fnarr) but messes it up.
31- Puts a spell on his dad that condemns him to a slow death; pauses and eventually lifts the spell
33- Enters bullshit symbolic world.
39- Goes on magical and psychedelic trip to another dimension.

ENNIS
43- Hypnotises doorman just by looking into his eyes.
45- Summons the First, Second and Third of the Fallen.
48- Talks to ghosts.
49- Sensitive enough to sense The Lord of the Dance.

SMITH
51- Sensitive enough to sense weird shit.

ENNIS
54- Hypnotises Prince Andrew into snorting his relative's ashes.
55- Raises a demon from one person and binds it into another.
58- Frees a bunch of trapped souls using a sigil to create a 'soulstorm'.
60- Uses sigils to hide a demonic birth from the Lords of Hell.
61- Carves a sigil into Ellie's soul that hides her from Hell as well.
62- Works out how to kill an immortal relative.
71- Frees the soul of a dead pilot by burying him, hypnotises a stranger into giving him money.
72- Hypnotises a receptionist into giving him a free hotel room.
77- Frees the soul of a murdered child, does some unknown deal to get out of Hell.

JENKINS
88- Binds a ghost into an Australian tree.
89- Enters the Aboriginal dreamtime through traditional Aboriginal ceremony.
91- Frees his friend from being trapped in a fold in time.
95- Creates a doppelganger from soil and the worst bits of his own personality and soul. Then manipulates it into absorbing the soul of Alestair Crowley.
96- Frees Astra and the souls of all children ever sent to Hell.
98- Frees the soul of a murdered dog.
99- Gains entrance for him and his friends into Abbadon.
101- Sensitive enough to detect and make a deal with a demon at a football match.
103- Uses the Synchronicity Highway.
104- Goes down to Hell and manages to shag Ellie without her eating his soul or burning him up.
106- Sensitive enough to detect a house that's been hidden by a ghost; connects psychically with that ghost.
108- Summons woodland spirits by accident.
111- Goes to Abbadon again, works out who King Arthur's heir is.
117- Works out how to stop a series of sudden hauntings and possessions.
118- Senses what may be a reincarnation.
119- Becomes psychically connected to a series of disasters.
124- Weaves a healing spell on Dani's family.
127- Makes a deal with the devil.
128- Seeks out God and blackmails him.

ENNIS
130- Summons a demon, carves a controlling sigil into its soul and binds it into the body of a little boy.
133- Creates a circle that will take the demon back to Hell.

ELLIS
136- Projects himself into Sparrowfart's bedroom and scares the crap out of him.
143- Makes a load of spooky shit appear in his cigarette smoke to put the willies up a journalist.

MACAN
144- Makes a kid think his dick has turned into a snake.

AZZARELLO
146- Somehow makes a bunch of rapists go mad or comatose.
149- It's implied that John allows his magic to get out of control, causing a prison riot.
150- John somehow restores order to the prison.
153- Makes some chlidren think that the mother of a murdered kitten can talk.
167- Created a golem out of a dead body.
168- Possibly uses magic to win at bingo.
174- Hypnotises a man into pouring a corrosive substance on himself.

CAREY
174- Senses something horrible in Elster towers.
175- Injects demon blood into Angie, healing her; wipes away sigils to let the ghosts attack Mrs Wren.
176- Uses a divining spell to work out where a man's soul has been taken to.
179- Bends the light from Clarice's window to an empty one that Fredericks's men then attack.
180- Extracts the goddess Kali from a gangster.
182- Uses a makeshift pendulum and a map to find Angie.
183- Uses soil to frighten some ghosts, makes a sacrifice to close a hole into the afterlife.
185- Uses 'mind over matter' to stop his flesh from boiling, has Angie bury his hair in Heaven for the Shadow Dog summoning.
186- Uses psychedelics and meditation to enter the Aboriginal afterlife.
188- Uses a binding spell to trap the succubus's children on Gruinard.
190- Uses the Heaven hair as a connection to aid the summoning of the Shadow Dog.
191- Puts himself into a coma, allowing him to possess the living and confront The Beast.
204- Helps Angie confront her demons.
207- Opens a back door to Hell and enters it.
214- Possibly uses magic to win at poker.
215- Summons an angel to mess up the Tate Club.

MINA
216- Makes Chris Cole forget his troubled past and turn the empathy spell back on its instigator.
217- Uses a magic knife to temporarily kill a few Praexis demons.
220- Sensitive enough to see Charlie's spirit.
222- Able to turn The Third Place back on its Master.
227- Enters The Third Place again and messes about with its Master, including binding him still.

#7 A. Heathen

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 11:27 AM

I've recently taken to thinking of a lot of what JC does as rather like Derren Brown's jiggery-pokery.
A combination of reading people and subtle prompting.
The empathy thing he did to Cole being more like NLP than magic.

Of course he really does live in a world with supernatural entities and all that, but let's not forget Batman rarely uses a gun.
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#8 Bilirubin

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 04:12 PM

He's also a master of suggestion and hypnosis, and is psychically sensitive.
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#9 bryce

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Posted 10 March 2007 - 06:59 PM

Don't forget "shooting Fog" with the Trenchcoat Brigade...the closest to Dr. Strange/Fate type magic I've seen.

#10 Christian

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 03:15 AM

The coolest magic trick John ever did was in those Shade issues he guest-starred in. When the coach was about to run him down, and he exploded into a coven on ravens.

I don't remember what issue of Hellblazer it was in. Either during Delano or Ennis' run, I believe. Leaning towards Ennis.
John was planning to conjure a demon and he said fuck it to all the mystical ritual trappings of magic as outlined in the Grimoires, because he didn't need all that pomp and dogma. Casting aside all the rules laid down in evocative magic.
I loved that scene and what it represented.
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From the waters and the wild;
Take a fairy by the hand,
For the world's more full of weeping
than you can understand...." -W.B. Yeats

#11 James

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Posted 11 March 2007 - 09:45 AM

That's a storytelling of ravens, as ANY SANDMAN REEDER KNO.

#12 QuietScholar

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 12:06 PM

It seems John's "powers" can be summed up as:

Hypnotism and intuitive use of his opponent's psychological states.

"Off the Cuff" Magic - Minor chants, Sigils, etc.


More often than not, when more complicated situations arise, he either has to con his way out of it or rely upon the help of powerful mystics or otherworldly entities to solve his problems.  In a certain sense, he uses them much in the way he uses his more mundane and normal friends.

#13 Mark

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 01:20 PM

I'd be very wary of any serious attempt to define the true extent or nature of John's powers, personally - I know there's a temptation to classify everything in comics (how many lbs can Batman bench press? How tall is Superman? How fast can the Flash run?), but as soon as you start laying down specific boundaries, you limit the potential for future stories. Leave it vague - that way, any writer can pull out whatever type of magic suits his story without a legion of fanboys complaining about it.

I very much like the idea that most of what he does is down to bluff and a keen ability to 'read' people, with a back-up of genuine magical ability which he doesn't actually use very often.
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#14 Bilirubin

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 12:23 AM

Well said Mark.
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#15 St. Finn Parish

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 02:38 AM

I would agree with Mark on that note. I always thought that John was probably someone who had studied a lot of magic in his earlier days, his teens and twenties, but having done that he sought out other ways to wield what Stephen King calls the prim. So as others have already said he knows all the rules, but finds other ways to get around those rules and get the result of what he's doing. He uses anything from simple slight of hand trickery to major earth moving magic to get his way. I mean he does do a lot of griffting to play the whole magic man angle but summoning demons and angels wouldn't seem like simple tasks and he does that as well. I do though think that not placing a boundry around John's abillities serves the adiunce as well as the writer. I mean the writer has a wealth of ideas that he can bring in and the reader never knows exactly how big or small for that matter the next bit o' magic is going to be.
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#16 Christian

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Posted 14 March 2007 - 05:08 AM

What Mark said.
That's always been a great appeal of John.
One story, you see a powerful magician talking about how John is riff-raff of the occult world and a con-man.
Then you see John going around, and all these occultists rave about how he might be the most powerful magician alive.
It's all kept a mystery. It's all part of the mystical appeal of John.
You know he's pulling the wool over our eyes. That he's not as powerful as he's allowed his reputation to grow in some circles, but there's always that lingering doubt....just how powerful is John?

My own thoughts are the same as Mark's or St. Finn's on the subject. But, we're all allowed to make up our own minds, because of those little hints dropped that there just MIGHT be more to John than meets the eye....leaves room for a slight doubt whenever you think about him.
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From the waters and the wild;
Take a fairy by the hand,
For the world's more full of weeping
than you can understand...." -W.B. Yeats

#17 the-artful-dodger-roger

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Posted 18 March 2007 - 04:33 PM

also he could have Probability manipulation, the odds in his favor. John is sometimes lucky.
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#18 Qusoor

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 12:00 PM

John's biggest advantage is his unpredictability.  Everyone in the magic community knows that Constantine's magical ability is minor, at best, but he doesn't rely entirely on magic, does he?  He outsmarts people and is unpredictable.  You don't know which way he's going to jump, except that if you've pissed him off, it's not going to be good or healthy for you.  

A good stage magician sets up your expectations, and then switches a rabbit for a hat when you're looking at his assistant's ass.  This is what John does--his enemies show up expecting a magical duel and John will have paid a mercenary with a chainsaw to hide in the bushes.
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#19 QuietScholar

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 01:09 PM

QUOTE (Qusoor @ Mar 19 2007, 07:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
John's biggest advantage is his unpredictability.  Everyone in the magic community knows that Constantine's magical ability is minor, at best, but he doesn't rely entirely on magic, does he?  He outsmarts people and is unpredictable.  You don't know which way he's going to jump, except that if you've pissed him off, it's not going to be good or healthy for you.  

A good stage magician sets up your expectations, and then switches a rabbit for a hat when you're looking at his assistant's ass.  This is what John does--his enemies show up expecting a magical duel and John will have paid a mercenary with a chainsaw to hide in the bushes.


In other words - he throws out the "rules of engagement" and fights dirty...really dirty. icon_2gun.gif

#20 Qusoor

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 11:29 AM

QUOTE (QuietScholar @ Mar 19 2007, 08:09 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
In other words - he throws out the "rules of engagement" and fights dirty...really dirty. icon_2gun.gif

"Rules of Engagement" is a bit formal for what I'm talking about.  I think John is almost supernaturally good at understanding what makes people tick.  Most people are creatures of habit--you discover something that works, and some people will stick to that long after it stops working.  John throws out the assumed rules of engagement because he's a really good lateral thinker.
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