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A. Heathen

So long, John Constantine, we'll miss you

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NB Just post your tribute in words and let's not comment on each other's thoughts, perhaps use that "reputation" button if you like something. You can post an obit for Constantine or for the comic or both. Or something else.


I am starting to write this at 6:40pm on 21st Feb, and it will be a stream of consciousness and so prone to error, opinion and hyperbole.



John Constantine is a character that defines my adult career as a comics reader.

(In my earlier years it was Batman and then Roy of the Rovers, since you ask.)


When Swamp Thing was handed to Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and Rick Veitch, I was reading the new issues and back issues at the same time, and the wealth of supporting cast was amazingly well realised (emphasis on "real"). Surprising that an incidental background character might go on to have his own 300 issue series and a bunch of spin offs, not to mention >choke< a film better than both the Swamp Thing ones !


Surprisingly for the young comic fan of the modern era to learn, this was not really down to Alan Moore, since it was only with Jamie Delano's launch of Hellblazer that the "mysterious, all-knowing wide boy who takes the piss of Swampy" became an engaging, real world character. Note that he has aged in real time for 25 years, at least until he got involved with a younger woman, but more of that later.


Moore gave Constantine a circle of friends and acquaintances who mostly got killed.

Delano gave John Constantine a family, people who moved on, people who survived him.


Over the years, our hero would occasionally push people away, saying "everyone around me dies!!!" and every now and then he would get drunk and mope or uncharacteristically mope when sober. Some of those came back to him. A lot of readers did this too.



Delano gave him a conscience that we would often think back to when copy writers or over-zealous fankids said "Constantine is a bastard who would sell his granny". No, he wouldn't. He would place his granny at risk due to his actions, and he would get his granny to knit him a protective scarf of arcane symbols. He would feel guilty about not seeing her at christmas because he was too busy saving the world. He would not leave an unprotected woman tied to a tree in deserted woods without enacting some sort of vengeance on the perpetrators. And he would not kill a man just to use his sex juice. And he wouldn't use guns. Or punch folks. Or go "Justice League Assemble ! It's Constantine Time !" Delano's Constantine went up against the Family Man, is that someone who is a heartless bastard?


Delano fleshed out the back story. Constantine had been a cocky bastard, carried away with his own self-confidence, and that's what cost him his first lost friends. With Moore and Delano, this was a common theme for Constantine.


Into his forties, along came a new breed of writer, Garth Ennis took the demonic aspects one step beyond, but also gave us more plausible religious and politicals opponent for Constantine.

And no cure for cancer.

John's relationship with Kit is more enduring than any other throughout the history of the book, except perhaps Chas, and her view on his messing around with magic and demons and that sort of thing was barely touched upon by others. Shame about the "shagged a lesbian" line Mr E.


[An aside, on Earth, Garth Ennis's First of the Fallen was a smartly dressed man who we would allow to introduce himself, not a prancing buffoon in a Borat mankini.]


In ironically the most organic move from one writer to the next, Eddie Campbell's brief spell of JC running away from the loss of Kit slides into Paul Jenkins' run, and that brings John to the heart of a believable, normal circle of friends (maybe too dependent on the Jenkins family!) with stories that rely more on ghosts and locality than ever before. One major locality is London, England. And there is a touch of Delano's mystical storylines being revisited here.

The shorter stories and the "down time" of both these writers manage to convey who Constantine was and why he was involved with these people.


When I look back, this era is what hooked me into Hellblazer more than anything, yet often Ennis and Jenkins are under-valued. We had a bloody good supporting cast, interesting high concepts (even if the delivery was sometimes low brow) and Sean Fucking Phillips's defining art.

Really economical, dynamic and with a range of expression rarely seen since. My personal favourite Leo Manco does better horror, and the book was more horror-themed at that later date.

But Phillips is undefeated king of Hellblazer artists.


I was really looking forward to Warren Ellis taking over. It was likely that he'd develop what I liked most in Hellblazer, and when he delivered Haunted as his opening gambit, we got London. As good a romantic tragedy as ever - mostly told off the page - and some superb new supporting cast members. They have not died, by the way, they have moved on and left Constantine behind.

There is a good reason for that. Besides Gemma and Chas, it's usually only the villains who survive and re-appear. (Let us, for a moment ignore the Paul Jenkins cast member who died twice!)


The stand alone stories boded very well for ongoing interest. There was no sense of a huge uber-arc such as we'd had previously, but a character with a role in other people's lives - a more episodic story. So far so good, but carried away by his internet-driven real world stories, Ellis wrote a tale to current for Vertigo, and when his school shootings tale was canned, he walked.


At the time, I was ambivalent about Brian Azzarello taking over, an AMERICAN, but he had an eye for an anti-hero. We were promised an interesting change, which mostly consisted of not being told what Constantine was thinking. Oh and no cigarettes as he was in jail.

Initial stories connected very well with the magical investigator vibe that Ellis had begun, but travelling America. Freezes Over remains one of my favouirte Hellblazer stories, that "con man" thing has been misunderstood through the years, but here he basically conned someone into giving up. Sadly, then ... the uber arc begins. Let me overlook Highwater and deal with the sex and bondage issue. This is a well written P.O.V. mystery with the vital explanation omitted. None of the witness stories are correct, but they all have elements of the truth. I only appreciated this a few years later, because I'd dropped the book at that stage.


Until Mike Carey came along.

Constantine returns to his roots. We get a supporting cast who are like the sort of people who you bump into in the real world, added to the back catalogue of (mostly Ellis's) Hellblazer types. A different approach ensues, as Carey's forte had been the epic tale of Lucifer, he took to working in a bunch of continuity and an over-long Mega-arc, but it consisted of several excellent singles and short stories, including my very favourite one-off "A Game of Cat and Mouse". But John Constantine was back to having depth rather than comics character consistency.

And his family and friends grew with him, for once.

I've said enough about Gemma elsewhere on this forum but Chas and he fell out like people do when one has a family and the other doesn't. Still friends even though they were not buddies.

The death of the supporting cast members was a comics fan indulgence that's not really my thing, but it was fun. And when John lost his sister and abandoned his magical circle at the end of Carey's run you believed it was a good place to end. Which you may remember was immediately reversed.


At the time, I did not like Denise Mina's run at all.

On reflection, the first half was okay but had too many irksome supporting cast members.

The second half should have been a single issue and the single issue should have been burned near a disused train tunnel before publication.

But John Constantine remained the character that Paul Jenkins had congealed from Delano and Ennis's primal ooze. Quite likable. Perhaps someone could photoshop everyone out of the comic, like they do with the Garfield cartoon strips?


Andy Diggle started with a tale that could have been a direct descendent of Delano's secret organisation type of story, then went on to the rather brilliant idea that the cocky confident Constantine of early days had finally got his Ennisaholism sorted and was back on top of his game. Of all the London gangland geezers that Constantine has been involved with, Diggle's tale was most believable (in spite of dead daughters emerging from the Thames) but too quickly he tried to resolve the long-standing problem of John's Dead Twin and continuity reared it's ugly head.


One could be forgiven for looking back at my posts when Peter Milligan was announced and laughing at me now. Scab was a brilliant reintroduction, but doubts stepped in when Constantine became besotted with someone he'd really only just met. And then she died. And then Constantine became besotted with someone who had only just been introduced, but he had met when she was younger and then they met again when he was younger.

I haven't liked the book for quite a while, and had forgotten that arc in India, unlike Mike Carey's one in India and Eddie Campbell's one in Australia, but recently I read the two years worth since I dropped the book and find the relationships do not resonate with me. Which is a shame.

Luckily, there was City of Demons, which is kind of what this run could have been - more exciting, short term relationships that work and a kick ass leather trenchcoat.

Sorry, I mean it's a damn fine horror comic drawn by one of those cartoony artists.


Actually, I am not going to remember Peter Milligan's Hellblazer for the stuff I disliked but for Suicide Bridge and Scab.


I wish #300 had something of the positive stuff from above.

The final two paged almost did it, but the pages preceding it totally failed to end anything other than "Peter Milligan's Hellblazerenders".


Given that there is a retconned character lolloping around the DCU, what shall I remember of John Constantine?

A character who for most of 25 years aged alongside me, saw more of the world and less of the good times, but made me interested in seeing how he would trick the tricksters and try to do the best for his friends. A good hook on which to hang a series of horror stories, fantasy stories and the occasional political tract. Real world horror, even.


Would I have liked to be his friend?

Not at every time in his life. If I'd met him in the 80s I'd be dead now, but if I'd met him before I might have been Chas, and if I'd met him in the last 20 years at least I might be still in touch with Kit or Angie or Nergal.


Did I enjoy reading about his adventures?

Sure did.

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(Let me start by saying the post above mine was brilliant and inspired me to write my own. I'm sorry for mine to be juxtaposed so nearly, as it doesn't come close to being as well written as the previous one, but what can you do, right?)


I came late to the party in 2006. In a theater I was doing a show at, I came across one of your forum members reading the same comic I had just bought an hour prior. It was the maintenance guy (or so I thought back then). I stopped and put down the box I was carrying, picked up my issue, and said "Hey!" Holding it up. He said "right on" and we eventually went to his room in the back or rather side of the theater where he showed me all his trades of Hellblazer, pretty complete up to Mike Carey's run (Carey was the current writer). I read all his and then downloaded the many issues of Delano's that weren't ever traded (or weren't back in '06), Jenkins, and the scandalous "Shoot" and the other short-term writers John Smith, Eddie Campbell, Darko Macan - you get the picture. But that's how I met, whatsisname? buglegs or summink, who recommended this forum to me in 2006 or 7, whenever I first joined.


So I was concurrently reading the new issues as they came out, plus the old ones in order, and with every issue I read, I loved this comic more and more. I've been reading comics my whole life. I took a break in college because I was broke and there was enough reading in school to make a person enjoy closing their eyes rather than looking at something. What I liked and disliked about Hellblazer was the same thing - different creative teams added variety, and too many cooks spoil the soup. That latter part perfectly realized when Peter Milligan came in and ruined the show. I won't use this space to bash Milligan any more than I have elsewhere here, but had he been writing the book when I first discovered, or rather rediscovered Hellblazer (I had actually bought "Original Sins and read it right after highschool, and forgot about it, oddly enough), I never would have picked it up again. In fact, for the past few years, Hellblazer has been the source of negative emotions with me, only the result of its final creative team. But I was unable to appreciate anything positive in the current book, which seemed weird. This was my favorite comic since 2006. That's not long but before then, my favorite comic had been V for Vendetta for close to 15 yrs, so I don't change favorites all willy-nilly.


I don't think DC ever knew what they had in this title, thus the string of awful decision after awful decision from the movie to the end. Vertigo may still exist but its a hollow thing now compared to when it used to be THE comic line. There was a point in my life about 10 years ago when all I bought were Vertigo titles, Batman and X-Men (and a Star Wars from Dark Horse, now and then). I quit buying Hellblazer after the issue in which John cheated on his wife and murdered some bastard. That was it until the last 3 issues, none of which were any good, and this book deserved more than that.


I always hated that John Constantine (rhymes with "Mine") was described as an anti-hero. How does someone who saved the earth 3 (if not more) times get to be an anti-hero? That's a hero in most people's minds. So what if he drank, fucked, cussed too much and occasionally shat himself--I do or have done all of that! That doesn't make him a bad guy, and he's a might preferable to nobs in spandex, even with that tired old "detective's trench coat." I hated that coat at first, but I love it so much now, I went out and bought me one for wet and cold days. Hellblazer reflected in my wardrobe choice (though I will never put on a tie for the rest of my life).


I loved the language John used, the way he spoke. He added "innit" to my vocabulary and got me saying "cheers!" to anyone who did right by me. I became interested in magic circles and read a lot about them after reading the story Carey wrote about the hell Dog and all the magicians assembled to keep it from coming through the 3rd door.


The entire series inspired me and that same friend I mentioned in my first paragraph to assemble that song playlist, which is more flawed than awesome, but has its moments. It inspired me to learn movie making software to make the Mucous Membrane video and talk the recording artist into polishing up his original attempt at covering the song which had never been heard but only seen up to then.


It inspired me to meet 3 of its artists (Tim Bradstreet, Jock, and Leo Manco) and gush about how wonderful they were. I'd love to meet Ennis, Ellis and Carey (most of all) and tell them how much I enjoyed their writing the book. I have attempted messages to all 3 but have no idea if they reached their intended. But I never gave a fuck about meeting comic creators my whole life until Hellblazer took me. I not only got interested in the book, but the process it took to create and publish a comic book. And like I said earlier, I joined this forum, the first time I have ever joined any sort of fan forum. I joined others around the same time, but this is the only one I hit regularly. Hellblazer means something to me and to the other members of this forum, and even though half the time I'm "stark-raving mad" and tend to respond emotionally, there are others on here similar to me with regard to how their love of the book causes them to respond, whether it be cynically, poignantly, or nutty as hell, or a combination of all 3. Hellblazer caused this.


And Hellblazer was ended, not by attrition so much as being misdiagnosed with a fatal disease, and believing it was real, causing it to stop living as opposed to dying. It aimlessly wandered for the past 50 or so issues into places it had never been, nor should it have gone, and each issue poisoned the whole with its many transgressions. Like a patient with diabetes, first it lost a foot, some fingers - a thumb - but very soon, it lost its heart and soul, and that was the toughest thing to take. I remember a post on this forum in which someone speculated, well before the announcement came last November, about 300 being the end. How prophetic was that? Foreshadowing, in real life, can be a bitch!


This comic book meant so much to so many people, it's a shame it couldn't go out under different circumstances. I probably won't become so emotionally invested in any comic book ever again, because comics are only commodities to the corporations which publish them. They are either a source of black ink, or the cause of red ink in bottom lines. It's just a business, and whether a comic lives or dies is just a business decision.


It's an end to many things, this #300. And the start, I fear, of many uninteresting and cliche things which, in another universe, used to be really cool, but in the DC universe, they will be used to redefine a character into something else, way different from who that character was for the past 25 years. And his legacy will change, and only the few of us here and a handful of like-minded others will remember who John Constantine, Hellblazer, really was.

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*sobs* I don't wanna say goodbye...but I must.


When I was 15 years old, I came across this 59 going on 60 year old Liverpudian and his exploits on a whim in 2004; with the whim being that film that we'll never speak of again. In the wake of the trailer, I stumbled across here, learning more about the very material that...film...was loosely based on. In July of that year, I picked up my very first two issues and became hooked. The two issues in question was #91 from Paul Jenkins run and #152 from Brian Azzarello's 25 issue stint. Within time I became more facinated with Hellblazer and its star, the REAL John Constantine than I ever will that...film... Even jumped in the middle of Mike Carey's epic run shortly after Staring at the Wall.



Back then, I wasn't into reading in full order. Having read everything, I'll do so begining with Jamie Delano.


While Alan Moore and Rick Veitch inrtoduced us to him through the pages of Swamp Thing, it was Delano and with longtime Doctor Who Magazine veteran John Ridgeway (for the first nine issues) catapulted us into Constantine's life in the mutated cesspool of London. Fresh off the heals of stoping the monsters who not only picked off most of his friends but his girlfriend, Emma, we'd soon realize he'd be up to his neck in more chaos than hot dinners in the form of hunger demons, the Damnation Army/Resurrection Crusade, Jocko, serial killers like the Man to the mentally damaged Samuel Morris, the nortorious "The Family Man", the God of all Gods and the enigmatic twin brother that never lived. Most of all the events of Newcastle and the very demon who set the wheels in motion; Nergal. Throughout the first forty issues, we were introduced to elements that would prove to be a huge mainstay for the series: his long suffering friend Chas Chandler (later his missus Renee and their daughter and granddaughter) and John's own family; notably his older sister Cheryl, his niece Gemma, the wet week brother-in-law Tony Masters and most of all guilt/drunk alddled one-armed father Thomas who eventually fell prey to the Family Man.


In addition, John had found new lovers along the way. The first since Emma was Zed, who was the chosen Mary to the Resurrection Crusade's only to find her own destiny. Along with her was Marj and her tween daughter Mercury who John both met while on the run from the Met for the decapitations of his landlady and fellow tenant. Dalano would also introduce and kill the last two members of the Newcastle crew: junkie Gary Lester and tech/Dead head, Ritchie Simpson.


By 1991, one would think Constantine's story was over, but it was just the beginning. Enter Garth Ennis! His innovative story style and characterization would propel the series to new heights starting with the ever popular Dangerous Habits where John dealt with a serious blow in the form of terminal lung cancer reunite with old friends and going up against the Lords of Hell; particularly The First of the Fallen. From #41-83, John would not only dance with the Devil but also encounter The King of the Vampires, BNP, a demon who posessed one of the Royal Family and dragging into a voodoo bound USA courtesy of Papa Midnight. n the time since Zed and Marj, John reunited with Katherine "Kit" Ryan whom was previous was in a relationship with John's good friend and drunkard equivilant Brendan Finn. Their friendship would blossom into a relationship by Christmas and for the first time in his then 40 year old life he was content. Though it would end indefinitly in the wake of Constantine's run in with BNP member Charlie Patterson and his thugs. The fallout from the breakout left John in a emotional self-destructive position as he spent the remander of the year homeless and drinking his life away. The run would introduce new characters who later meet their grizzly fates were the Socialist student Nigel Archer, the Reverend Rick Neilson, and the shades wearing Scotsman Header. It was Ennis's run that not only ran in the end of an era under the DC bullet, but ushering in a new age in mature comics with the beginning of the Vertigo imprint. In the line's inagural issue ( #63) saw John celebrating his 40th Birthday with friends including, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, The Lord of the Dance, the rabbit Mange and the succubus Ellie whom he met when she and her angelic lover were on the run from their prospective areas with child only to lose them both due to the Snob, Gabriel. I've always felt that Ennis is to comics what Quentin Tarrantino is to film: A ball to the wall creator who's stories have you coming back for more. More indeed as Ennis would make 5 part encore dealing with the repercussions of the botched resurrection of a mobster's only son only to put a demon in the child's place.



With the dawn of '95, Paul Jenkins took rein as the new scribe accompanied with once guest artist Sean Phillips. I have a huge appreciation for this run. Mostly because of its the most sought after run in next to no back issues but also the only run never collected in trades giving how criminally underrated it was. The Jenkins era had big shoes to fill after Ennis and Eddie Campbell's 4 parter that sets up the new scribe. From 1995-98, Constantine would be eyeballs deep in Rainbow snake, a demon with a thing for collecting and tourturing the souls of children, betrayed Medival beings, betraying Ellie, and the return of TFOTF which led to the creation of John's demonic doppleganger. In one encounter, Constantine was whisked away to hell to confront his father and to learn he, not John, was responsible for his mother's death and all thoughs years of insulting and belittling him was masking his guilt and shame of forcing his wife into getting a back street abortion. We also see John talking to and conning God, in the form of a old fortune teller.


Jenkins would introduce more old friends in the form of Rich Eldridge (with his girlfriend Michelle and their son Syder; later Ivy Mae by runs end), the tall epileptic Straff and his mother (who was brought back from the dead and killed again due to a continuity goof-up eight years after her death via heart attack), Muppet, Loftie and many more. Constantine would find love again for a brief time with African-American journalist Danita Wright. In regards to all things green Jenkins also introduced Jack of the Green who'd appeared sporatically. Jenkins and Phillips celebrated the series 10th anniversary with #120 which feature every character in John's life ranging from Death to a sillouette Alan Moore. Phillips artwork's came a long way from his early guest spots as it remains just as memorable as Ridgeway, Will Simpson and Steve Dillon. Though Phillips left the interior duties by #120, he remained for the cover art for Jenkins final eight issues.



With the 90s winding down, the next writer to chime in was Transmetropolitan co-creator Warren Ellis. Along with him, the series would have a new cover artist in Tim Bradstreet with his brother-in-law, the late Stevhan Gobble serving and replacing Sting as THE John Constantine from 1999 through 2006. Ellis reinstated the dark and social horrors and stand alones. In his 6-part tale Haunted, Constantine learns of the death of an ex at the hands of the devious Crowley wannabe and overall dickhead Josh Wright. With the help of the sleazy D.I. Watford as well as Tate club regular Clarice Sackville and underground mage Map, John gave Wright a rude awakening he'd never forget (save for Carey). The next four issues afterwards consisted of stand alones featuring a serial killer with a deadly room, a crib consisting of the miscarried Anti-Christ, a former Japanese torture doctor and bizzare conspiracy theories.


Ellis' run proved short-lived as one story intended to be #141 was shelved due in part to the Columbine shootings; though it'd be a full decade til the story (with art by Phil Jimenez) would be published in Vertigo: Resurrected in 2010. As a result of that, Ellis left with Darko Makin filling in for two issues.


By the year 2000, Brian Azzarello would take to the smoke by placing Constantine out of his natural habitate and into Azzarello's comfort zones. His inagural storyarc saw John locked away in jail for a murder he didn't commit. John's characterization was off-kilter during this 25 issue run as Azzarello looked to John's earlier characterization via Alan Moore and Rick Veitch's tentures on Swamp Thing for inspiration while aiming for a devious creep not too far from his familar work on 100 Bullets. Joining him was artist Marcelo Frusin, who style was slightly akin to Eduardo Risso but with a more Italian lilt complete with drawing John's signature coat longer than your normal coat, plus the chesire cat grin. From 2000 though 2002, John would go all across the US to confront the tacky Batman analogue SW Manor but not without a few detours like a small West Virginia town relying on porn to keep their economy going; plus the brothers of the dead man, the myth of the Iceman, and the Neo-Nazi addled Highwater.


The run proved crotroversial as it strayed to far from the themes and horrors Hellblazer was famously known for and by late '02, Azzarello was out and Mike Carey was in. Frusin remained on the title til late 2004 where he was succeeded by Leonardo Manco. Manco would remain throughout Carey's run through Denise Mina's to Andy Diggle's.


Carey took the series back to familar ground kicking off with a 2 parter with our boy back in Liverpool checking in on Cheryl and a then 24 year old Gemma (who was on holiday; later revealed to be kidnapped) only to be caught up in the mischief of a old woman who got high off souls and the mystery of the Red Sepulchre and something much bigger... Carey also introduced a new love interest in Angie Spatchcock who served as not only a lover but also John's equal in nasty shit. Plus the drama with her little brother Jason who eventually falls prey to the Shadow Dog; his death somewhat foreshadows Cheryl's demise. The run not only showcased the return of Chas, Watford, and Clarice but also gave Gemma Masters a much bigger role than she ever had in the years since Delano proving she isn't quite a big bastard like her dear uncle (not quite), but a devious kneecap smashing bitch to boot!


The Shadow Dog business came to ahead with Staring at the Wall which saw John and a group of fellow magicians accidentally unleasing a very powerful adversary leading to more mayhem to ensue. The storyline not only included Swamp Thing but also cameos from Lucifer, Phantom Stranger, and Tim Hunter. The defeat would come at a price for both our boy and the Bog God as the beast (with his mysterious owner) stripped Constantine of his memories but Alec Holland's soul in the process (leading up to ST vol 4). The memory loss wouldn't be permanent as the mysterious being known as Rosacarnis gave him 3 alternate timelines with each wife (Zed, Kit, and Angie) and different yet demonic children. All in a plan to destory everyone John even knew and cared about revenging her father Nergal. One by one, the demonic kids picked off Alba, Albert, Mange, Robbie Brooks, Dani's uncle and brothers, Straff (you can pretend his mom's still dead and assume Muppet or Loftie died with him) and the most damaging casualty of all, Cheryl. Despite going directly into hell defeating Rosacarnis and the brats (with TFOTF killing her and the boys), John was unsuccessful in recovering her soul leaving his only niece to grieve and his relationship with Chas on the rocks due to Nergal hijacking his body and its effects lead to not only shagging some hooker but beat the shit out of Renee!! That story arc is why I chose the name Demon Chas.


The event let to John swearing off magic for while concluding Mike Carey's glorious run (and Tim Bradstreet's covers) giving reknown novelist Denise Mina the keys to the kingdom. Doing the covers for a brief time was Greg Lauren; he was immediatly succeeded by Lee Bermejo. Mina's 13 issue stint follows from Carey's starting with a troubled little oik named Chris Cole who had been effected by the mystic essence of Empathy and his association with Steve Evans and his church of Oran. Thus, our boy and Cole go to Scotland for answers only for John to find out about the Third Place and the ruler of that domain. I have a soft spot for Empathy is the Enemy as it did read like a novel despite it flaws whether it were from Mina or then soon-to-be outgoing editor Johnathan Vankin, and the Praexis were interesting (when not drawn in cartoonish overweight style). The aftermath of Empathy spreaded all over the country and the world as John, Evans, along with Chas, Angie and Gemma stop Azazel from carrying out his master plan. Cole's left hand became red til he died defeating him and becoming the new master of the Third Place....or was it his right hand?



After all that Map becoming more powerful than ever before, and the one-off return of Mike Carey, Mina would be succeeded by Andy Diggle. Diggle' no stranger to the life of John Constantine. Having written him in his 6-part Swamp Thing story and writing Lady Joanna Constantine for a four part mini-series, he was a chear shoe-in for the job. Leo Manco remained though his art starts going off the rails by the time of The Laughing Magician and worsen by the final 3-parter though he would be substituted by Guiseppe Camuncoli and a young new artist named Sean Murphy (YES, I LIKE THE LEATHER COAT!! Hell, John's worn one before in the Fear Machine for crying out loud.). For Diggle's two year run, we see our boy going back to his roots dress-wise looking just as he was (scar and age aside) when we first met him. Not only that but Constantine would come face to face with new adversaries like Lord Calvin Burnham and Mako. Further, he learns more about the Syncronicity Highway he's long relied on only to discover his twin, the Golden Boy was responsible for everything that he gone through since #40.


With Diggle reign ending at #249, the next issue would see five Christmas vignettes from Delano (who since penned The Horrorist and Pandemonium) and Azzarello plus from Dave Gibbons, China Mieville and the book next (and unfortunate) successor Peter Milligan.


I won't go into Milligan's era as I've greatly despise the story style he chose. Scab and Suicide Bridge are the only diamonds in the shit mine he made. Everything outside the two doesn't represent John Constantine in any way and for anyone's sake avoid his run like the plague. All you need to know that the last five issues (well City of Demons) ended with Si Spencer and a one-shot from Ian Rankin. As far as we're concerned, our boy's still up to his old tricks, Angie isn't a bitter fatty and Gemma isn't reduced to her once ten year old self and is still the same competant woman we saw under Carey and Mina.



25 years on and many adventures later, I've learn a lot about and from John Constantine than i ever have with any character out there. One day we'll all join him at the pub somewhere in London and he'll tell us about his latest escapades; escapades that doesn't involve the corporate husk that's been dubbed the DCnU since September '11. So, I bid adieu to Hellblazer and I bid adieu to John Constantine. Ta, dude.


As he once said. "Goodnight, god bless, now fuck off to bed."

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Wow! That person is a fan!

I don't think HB has been a truly rated-R comic since the Azzarello days.

And, I don't think Constantine has felt like a fresh character since the Ellis days.

I don't see the Hellblazer comic having much of an impact on the comic book world really, either. It always sort of just did its own thing, off in its own corner.

Even when it was at its most creative, it was joined by books like Sandman and Shade that took some of the attention.

While it was Vertigo's longest-running book, most other Vertigo books were selling better than HB.

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Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Media Properties.




Yesterday, I picked up Hellblazer #300. The final issue.


I'm sad. John Constantine, the archetypal Sweary British Mage, has been a fixture for more than half of my life. I've got more comics featuring the character than I can comfortably lift. The most popular section of my website is dedicated to John Constantine. And now he's gone, subsumed into a younger, blander version of himself without any sort of ties to the culture that he grew up in.


That's the John Constantine in the DCUniverse, the new 52. He's younger and nobs around with Zatanna, the Phantom Stranger, Frankenstein's creature. But he's not much of a character. Original John Constantine was rooted in the punk of the 70's and 80's. He was a member of a spectacularly failed band (Mucous Membrane). This gave him a center, a starting point. His disrespect for authority, his iconoclasm and cynicism made perfect sense, because I understood the movement he came from, the zeitgeist from which he was born. The desperate 70's were his formative years.


This depth came from the minds of Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch and John Totleben. They looked around and created a character that was from their time. And people responded to John Constantine. He was something new--a working-class mage. Until Constantine, comics magic weilders have been remote mages, men with towers, women with witches terrible powers. John was different. He was a magical mechanic, not getting involved in the ritual of magic, but doing the necessary things in order to get the desired result. If the words are the thing, then why not just say them, rather than intoning them? Was a copper-inlaid pentacle really necessary, or would a quick chalk one on a linoleum floor be just as useful? This practical approach was unique, stripping away the mysticism and obfuscation, as well as the overblown speeches. Dr. Strange has all sorts of charms and talismans, the Specter is the Veneance of God, Dr. Fate channels the power of whichever Egyptian god through his helmet, the Phantom Stanger has some strange origin story. John as none of these. He wasn't a doctor, a mystic, or Judas. He was a self-made sorcerer who got into magic as a way to impress the girls. He came from a poor family, ran away when he was 16. Never went to college.


As such, he was always an iconoclast, and a smart one. He has never been a hero, because heroes do the right thing. John was a ruthless bastard who looked at the big picture and kept his eye on it, often at a personal cost, or to the cost of a friend. That said, what he did always needed doing. And after the price was paid, he usually got drunk. We've even seem him cry a time or two. Constantine was that small person who moved the wheels of the world because they had to. Not because they were getting fame or glory. He was easy to relate to, because he wore his faults and vices on his sleeve. He smoked, he drank, he cursed. All of these motions and emotions made him human, someone I could relate to.


He changed as different writers wrote him differently. Jamie Delano's Constantine was very different from Garth Ennis's Irish Rebel, Mike Carey's masterful manipulator. All these were different and yet recognizeable as the same person. But there were some authors who didn't get it, who didn't understand the point of planting your feet, and flipping off God, the Devil, and the police simply because it needed to be done. And ultimately, this was Constantine's downfall.


Because Constantine was a media property. The media he appeared in was produced on a deadline, and that had to be hit, whether the writer had a good idea or not. And since the creators weren't willing to write him for more than a decade, the chore had to be passed on to someone else. And so there were John stories that were from individuals who didn't really understand what he was about. Certainly the film that used the Constantine name was pretty clueless. As, sadly, was the last man to write the comic. But that's what happens when a character is a media property.


And so one of my favorite favoirte media properties flicks his ciggie into the bushes and heads out for Pubs Unknown. There's going to be a hole in my life for a while. But I'll always have those brilliant issues, and when I want, I can open up a box of comics and visit the good old days.

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Just to add to Qusoor's comment about media properties:

The now cancelled and wiped out of continuity ageing scouser John Constantine had over two decades as the single best non creator owned character in mainstream comics. I wouldn't see that as a bad thing, myself, and feel that DC could do with a few more characters like that.

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It's funny. I went and looked and I have 200 or so single Hellblazer issues and all the trades up to carey's run plus a trade from Milligan and Diggle each. The next closest I come to that number is Walking Dead, of which I have every issue and every trade up to Vol.13. So I have way more Hellblazer comics (all amassed in the past 7 years) than any other comic title in my collection. If that ain't love, than it's a lust I can brag about to my fanboy friends.

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Hmm....300 indiivdual issues? I have a huge comic collection. No, comic book store huge, seriously.

I'm trying to think....I have more issues of Uncanny X-Men (all except #1), Fantastic Four (all except the first 20, the first Black Panther, and the first Silver Surfer), and a bunch of issues of Thor (probably over 300)....but, outside of that, I must have more issues of HB than any other comic.

I have complete runs of books like Defenders and Dr. Strange (for example), but they didn't make it to 300 issues.

So....trying to think....Yeah, I'd say outside of those three comic series, I have more individual issues of HB than any other book.

300 issues isn't anything to sneeze at.

It's where Sim ended Cerebus. Only books that have been around since the beginning of their companies (like Batman, Superman, Fantastic Four, Avengers, X-Men, etc.) have longer runs.

No books launched since 1980 have achieved 300 issues, except Hellblazer, I am pretty sure.

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I recounted. I have 178 of them and too many goddamned doubles. It's like I see a Delano issue or an Ennis issue at a used book store and i snatch it up, regardless whether I already have it. That's just dumb. SO I have some extra old ones if anybody wants them. I'll make a list of them and post it here in a day or so.

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Those covers are so distinctive.

I've bought more than my fair share of doubles of comics I already own....but, it's usually something newer, when covers become inter-changeable.

I can still picture those Dave McKean covers in my head.

I wouldn't even want to try to collect a Marvel comic from the Bill Jemas-era. "Hmm...Do I have the Spider Man issue where Spider Man is on a black background and stares outwards looking angry, or is it the Spider Man issue where Spider Man is on a black background and stares outwards looking sort of miffed?".


Something I can suggest is pick the comics you are most interested in collecting at the time and write down the issues you need on a piece of paper, and keep it in your wallet. That'll save you cash and heartache.

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I wouldn't even want to try to collect a Marvel comic from the Bill Jemas-era.

Not even Captain Marvel or Alias?

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Something I can suggest is pick the comics you are most interested in collecting at the time and write down the issues you need on a piece of paper, and keep it in your wallet. That'll save you cash and heartache.


I keep a list in my phone. Totally helps out. Pretty sure I got more HB singles than any other title, easily.


As for my obit:


Fuck you, John Costantine.

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I have all 300 issues of Hellblazer, plus every special and miniseries. But I also have every issue of Star Trek to date, which is around 900 issues, so that kicks HB's ass in my collection. :)

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900 issues of Star Trek? What?

You must be adding up every series ever done then, right? Because those books have been started and stopped so many times....Gold Key, Marvel, DC, etc. etc. etc.

None of them ever lasted that long. Gold Key was about 30 issues or so. Marvel was only about 12. DC had a few different series, but none reached over 100 issues, I can't see. I just liked the Peter David ones.


Which is a roundabout way to say that Hellblazer counts as one series making up 300 consecutive issues.

I wouldn't count Star Trek.

I was going by just the original Marvel series, not like EVERY Dr. Strange series ever published. Or, Iron Man series number 1 and then series number 2 and then etc. Or, EVERY Batman title I own, counting each series as its own book.

If I did that way, I'd have quite a few other books adding up to more than Hellblazer.

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I wouldn't even want to try to collect a Marvel comic from the Bill Jemas-era.

Not even Captain Marvel or Alias?


There are always exceptions.

Captain Marvel, by series 2 though, did have that same problem. Nice looking covers, maybe, but still pretty generic for cover shots.

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Something I can suggest is pick the comics you are most interested in collecting at the time and write down the issues you need on a piece of paper, and keep it in your wallet. That'll save you cash and heartache.


i'm actually ahead of you. I've bought trades I already owned before. So now I keep a little text file on my phone to look at each time I go a comicing.

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I completely get where you're coming from, Christian, and you're right, Star Trek never reached anything close to #300 in its numbering, as Hellblazer did. That said, in one form or another, new Star Trek comics have been continuously published during 41 of the past 46 years (the only exceptions, for those curious, being 1999 and 2002 to 2005, when no new issues appeared).


* Gold Key: 61 issues

* Peter Pan: 6 issues

* DC TOS series #1: 63 issues

* DC TOS series #2: 96 issues

* DC ST:TNG series: 111 issues

* Malibu DS9 series: 51 issues

* Marvel 1980s series: 18 issues

* Marvel 1990s series: 109 issues

* Wildstorm: 27 issues

* Tokypop: 4 manga digests

* Wired Magazine: 1 issue

* IDW: 170 issues to date

* British strips in Joe90, TV21 and Valiant magazines: 257 issues


TOTAL: 980 to date


So anyway... HELLBLAZER!

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That was a lovely tribute to John Constantine and the creators of Hellblazer,

to be banging on about nerds and their Star Trek comics.


It is what he would have wanted.

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John....sob....he....he loved his Star Trek comic collection, man. He had all 980 Star Trek comics, and he kept them in mint condition in bagged boards, all organized in nice boxes....Oh god, I miss him so much!


We've already forgotten this little thing called "Hellblazer" and moved on with our lives.

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