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Hellblazer Is Dead; Long Live Constantine?


Through the Associated Press, DC has chosen to destroy the soul of former Fanboy Planet podcast contributor Andy Mead.

For over a year, John Constantine has existed in two fictional universes. First, a very dark and scary one in the title Hellblazer, which is the adult-oriented Vertigo imprint's longest-running title. In fact, it's closing in on its 300th issue. Alas, that is also to be its last, closing out an arc by long-time writer Peter Milligan entitled, appropriately enough for the character, "Blood and Cigarettes.".

Even before the relaunch of DC Comics continuity with the New 52, John Constantine had dipped a toe back into the DC Universe, in Brightest Day and its follow-up mini-series The Search for Swamp Thing. Since the relaunch, he has appeared in Justice League Dark, Animal Man and Sword of Sorcery. And now, as announced in the AP, he will be getting a solo book, Constantine.

At both DC and its rival Marvel, characters exist in different simultaneous continuities all the time. Both Superman and Spider-Man juggle two or three at any given time, depending on the status of their companies' children's lines or television series. So why can't John Constantine?

Granted, in the mainstream DC Universe, the blond working class magician is younger and less sure of himself than the decades of Vertigo continuity have made him. But again, that just means we have a choice of seeing two different approaches -- one for those who want to read a true horror book, not one that dances on the edge of superheroes, and one that showcases the dark side of magic in a still brightly colored world.

Who knows? What we do know is that Hellblazer will go out in glory with issue 300, and then in March, we get this new solo book Constantine, written by Robert Venditti (creator of The Surrogates and upcoming writer on Demon Knights) with art by Renato Guedes.

Venditti promises that it's the same Constantine we know and love. But let's be honest that it's the Constantine we've learned to love from Justice League Dark, not the one created by Alan Moore in his Swamp Thing run. Just look at him -- the Vertigo Constantine is greasty, dirty, unshaven, perhaps a bit insane, and possibly dangerous to everyone around him. The New 52 Constantine is ready for his close-up on the CW.

Sure, there will be darkness; by necessity and marketing, it will just be a bit lighter. But Venditti is a good writer and a tight storyteller, so it may be worth a shot.

There's another factor at work here, slightly referenced in the snarky CW comment. Rumors leaked last week that Warner is looking to bring Constantine back to the screen, in a project tentatively titled Heaven Sent. Guillermo Del Toro has expressed interest in it, a story that would combine several of DC's supernatural heavy-hitters -- The Phantom Stranger, The Spectre, Zatanna and Constantine to name a few possibilities. So it's time to clean the guy up for mass consumption.

However, if Constantine dies his hair black and drops his British accent, we're out of here.

Derek McCaw

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