Textless cover of Hellblazer #220 (July 2006).
Art by Leonardo Manco.
|First appearance||The Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 (June 1985)|
|Created by||Alan Moore
|Alter ego||John Constantine|
|Team affiliations||The Trenchcoat Brigade
Justice League Dark
|Abilities||Expert user/knowledge of various forms of magic|
John Constantine (//) (also known as Hellblazer) is a fictional character, an antihero, appearing in comic books published by DC Comics and DC Comics's imprints Vertigo. The character first appeared in The Saga of the Swamp Thing No. 37 (June 1985), and was created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben. He serves as the lead character of the comic books Hellblazer (1988–2013), Constantine (2013–15), Constantine: The Hellblazer (2015–16), and The Hellblazer (2016–).
The titular Hellblazer, Constantine is a working class occult detective and con man stationed in London. He is known for his endless cynicism, deadpan snarking, ruthless cunning and constant chain smoking, but is also a passionate humanist driven by a heartfelt desire to do some good in his life. Originally a supporting character who played a pivotal role in the "American Gothic" Swamp Thing storyline, Constantine received his own comic in 1988. Pop artist Sting served as visual inspiration for the character.
A live-action film was released in 2005 entitled Constantine, in which an Americanized version of the character is played by actor Keanu Reeves. Welsh actor Matt Ryan was cast in the role of Constantine for the 2014 NBC television series Constantine, a role he reprised on The CW series Arrow, the animated film Justice League Dark and is set to reprise again in an upcoming animated continuation of his series on the CW Seed.
The Hellblazer series was the longest-running and most successful title of DC's Vertigo imprint. Empire Magazine ranked Constantine third in their 50 Greatest Comic Characters of All Time, while IGN ranked him No. 29 in their Top 100 Comic Book Heroes, and the character ranked No. 10 in Wizard Magazine's Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time.
- 1 Creation and conception
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Appearances and mentions
- 4 Other versions
- 5 Analogues
- 6 Influences
- 7 Powers and abilities
- 8 In real life
- 9 Reception
- 10 In other media
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Creation and conception
In these early appearances, Constantine was depicted as a sorcerer of questionable morality, whose appearance was based on that of the musician Sting (specifically, as Sting appeared in the films Brimstone and Treacle and Quadrophenia). Alan Moore created the character after artists Steve Bissette and John Totleben, who were fans of The Police, expressed a desire to draw a character who looked like Sting. They had already drawn at least one character in Sting's likeness, a briefly glimpsed background figure wearing a black-and-red-striped T-shirt in Swamp Thing #25 (1984), who was later retroactively declared to be John Constantine. In his earliest Swamp Thing appearances, the character is drawn with a marked resemblance to Sting, and in Swamp Thing #51, Constantine appears on a boat with the name The Honourable Gordon Sumner on the bow.
John Constantine's official debut was not until Swamp Thing #37, when he was drawn by Rick Veitch. Crisis on Infinite Earths #4, his second official appearance in a cameo role, shipped two weeks prior to the release of Swamp Thing #37. In Crisis on Infinite Earths #4, written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Perez, Constantine is wearing a green suit as opposed to his more traditional black suit and tan trenchcoat ensemble. Moore describes Constantine as being drawn from a number of "really good ideas... about serial killers, the Winchester House, and... want[ing] to draw Sting in a story." Calling these disparate strands a "big intellectual puzzle", Constantine was the result of "fit[ting] it all together." Initially created "purely to get Sting into the story", by the time of the 1985 San Diego ComicCon, Moore stated that "It's turning into something more than that now." Veitch's contribution was to give Constantine an earring, something he considered risque for 1985.
Asked in 1985 about the similarities between John Constantine and the character Baron Winters (from Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan's Night Force), Moore revealed that he was a "big fan" of Wolfman and Night Force, but that there was "no intention to rip off Baron Winters". He said:
|“||With Constantine, I don't know who I was thinking of. I just wanted this character who knows everything, and knows everybody—really charismatic. Who knows nuns, politicians and bikers, and who is never at a loss for what to do. I suppose there is a similarity with Baron Winters in that he is another manipulative character who has a bunch of agents working with him.||”|
Constantine and Winters met each other during Moore's run on Swamp Thing and again in Neil Gaiman's The Books of Magic.
Speaking to comics magazine Wizard in 1993, Moore elaborated:
|“||One of those early notes was they both wanted to do a character that looked like Sting. I think DC is terrified that Sting will sue them, although Sting has seen the character and commented in Rolling Stone that he thought it was great. He was very flattered to have a comic character who looked like him, but DC gets nervous about these things. They started to eradicate all traces of references in the introduction of the early Swamp Thing books to John Constantine's resemblance to Sting. But I can state categorically that the character only existed because Steve and John wanted to do a character that looked like Sting. Having been given that challenge, how could I fit Sting into Swamp Thing? I have an idea that most of the mystics in comics are generally older people, very austere, very proper, very middle class in a lot of ways. They are not at all functional on the street. It struck me that it might be interesting for once to do an almost blue-collar warlock. Somebody who was streetwise, working class, and from a different background than the standard run of comic book mystics. Constantine started to grow out of that.||”|
In 1988, Constantine was given his own title, Hellblazer. In 1993, at the launch of DC's Vertigo Comics imprint, Hellblazer was made an official Vertigo publication. It was the longest continuously published Vertigo title. Before the launch of the Vertigo line, Constantine appeared in several DC Universe titles, but for many years afterwards editorial policy forbade the use of Constantine outside the Vertigo line. The policy was reversed in 2011, when a version of Constantine appeared in the DC Universe crossover series Brightest Day, a spin-off series, Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing. Peter Milligan added him in the roster of The New 52 series Justice League Dark. Milligan began writing Justice League Dark while also writing the Vertigo's Hellblazer series, being a writer of both series at the same time. In an interview, Milligan told Newsarama:
|“||Yeah. Sorry about that. I felt pretty bad and it was quite strange, sitting on a few panels and then having a few interviews where I couldn’t actually say that I'd be writing Constantine for DCU. I have to say, though, that that didn't change what I said, which I still stand by. Namely that as far as I'm concerned, it's important that the Vertigo Constantine and the DCU Constantine are kept separate, with no cross-over things going on. The DCU Constantine has to be the guy we know and love, with his same failings—otherwise what's the point of using him? But as I'm writing him he's younger and has perhaps been through a bit less than the battered aging old sod we meet in Vertigo. Unlike my Vertigo Constantine, the guy we see in JLA Dark is definitely not married! I also said and believe that the average DC reader—Vertigo and DCU—is sophisticated enough to be able to read both versions without getting confused.||”|
Beginning in Justice League Dark #9, Jeff Lemire assumed writing duties on the series, replacing Milligan who had remained on the Vertigo title. Speaking with CBR News exclusively, Lemire said he considers Justice League Dark his dream gig at DC Comics because Constantine is one of his all-time favourite characters not just in comics, but in all fiction. Lemire also teased that while Constantine, Zatanna and Deadman would remain on the roster, the team would change in his opening arc and expand.
Although a compassionate humanist who struggles to overcome the influence of both Heaven and Hell over humanity, and despite his occasional forays into heroism, Constantine is a foul-mouthed, disillusioned, British cynic who pursues a life of sorcery and danger. His motivation has been attributed to an adrenaline addiction that only the strange and mysterious can sate. He also seems to be something of a "Weirdness Magnet" (a term also used to describe Blue Devil).
Constantine is shown to be someone with a wide and international circle of contacts and allies, and is adept at making friends. At the same time, his close friends inevitably suffer or are outright killed simply by being in his life; this has left a severe mark on him. In #69, when the King of Vampires killed the man sleeping beside him and casually asked if he'd been a friend, John replied "Must be. He's dead."
Constantine is bisexual. While early stories exclusively showed him dating women, Ashes & Dust in the City of Angels revealed he had previously dated men as well. His romantic relationships in the New 52 have included numerous partners, most significantly Zatanna, as well as the sorcerer Nick Necro; all have been fraught with distrust and mutual disappointments. The relaunch Constantine the Hellblazer #1 (2015) reaffirmed Constantine's bisexuality through his interactions with male and female characters in the issue.
Constantine also has a reputation as being one of the most powerful sorcerers in the world. Despite this, Constantine rarely uses magic, instead choosing to use his wits to trick his opponents. Constantine is also referred to as "The Constant One" because of his whole family tree being somewhat connected to the occult. Many of his ancestors are sorcerers from different eras of history, and have taken part in many known historical events. Some of his ancestors have roles in other works outside Hellblazer, such as Batman: The Order of Beasts, The Sandman and Books of Magic.
While Constantine has worn many clothes over the years, he was originally portrayed as often wearing a blue pin-stripe suit, tan trench coat. and occasionally gloves. As the series progressed, his trademark attire became a grungier (or perhaps the same, just older) trench coat, white shirt, and black tie, but eventually[volume & issue needed] returned more to his earlier fashion. Constantine smokes Silk Cut cigarettes, consuming thirty or so a day. Constantine also occasionally breaks the fourth wall, where he talks to the reader and narrates the story himself.
Real time aging
Constantine is unusual among comic book characters in that he has aged in real time since his creation. During the first year of his solo series, Constantine celebrated his 35th birthday. In the relevant issue Constantine is reading a newspaper when he notices the date on the cover is his birthday, making his date of birth May 10, 1953. Five years later, on May 10, 1993, he turned 40. In Hellblazer, it was mentioned multiple times that the aging process of Constantine himself might be different due to the demon blood that he obtained from Nergal. In a 2011 interview, DC co-publisher Dan DiDio said that "Constantine in the Vertigo universe is in his 60s, and what you have in the DC Universe is a character who is markedly younger".
Fictional character biography
In Constantine's early appearances in Swamp Thing, his past was a mystery; his life as a child and young adult was not developed until Jamie Delano's Hellblazer stories. John Constantine was born in Liverpool, Merseyside on May 10, 1953. His mother, Mary Anne, died giving birth to John and his stillborn twin brother because an earlier abortion—forced on her by John's father, Thomas—had weakened her womb. Because he was unable to accept responsibility for his wife's death, Thomas blamed John and the pair grew up with a deep dislike for one another. Whilst in the womb, John strangled his twin brother with his own umbilical cord; in a parallel universe, the twin survives to become the well-loved and well-adjusted magician that John never was.
In their childhood, John and his older sister Cheryl lived briefly with their aunt and uncle in Northampton to escape from their father's alcoholism and subsequent imprisonment for stealing a female neighbour's underwear. They moved back to Liverpool when their father was released. John's bloodline and ancestry were known as the Laughing Magicians, legendary mages who have the power over synchronicity and were infamous for bluffing and tricking gods. This ancestry later drives John Constantine to partake in his lineage and practice magic. One of John's first acts of magic, as a child, was to hide all of his childhood innocence and vulnerability in a box to rid himself of it. Later, in the 1960s, a teenage John ran away from home, but not before a botched curse caused his father to become withered and frail. John eventually made his permanent home in London in 1969, rooming with Francis "Chas" Chandler, a young man who has since gone on to become John's closest—and longest surviving—friend.
During the 1970s, John became involved in occult circles in London. He travelled other countries and visited San Francisco, where he met, and subsequently began a relationship with, the female magician Zatanna Zatara (in DC's The New 52, however, the two met in New York). He also became enamoured of punk rock; after seeing the Sex Pistols at the Roxy Club in London in 1977, John cut his long hair, called himself Johnny Con-Job, and formed his own band, Mucous Membrane, whose members included Chandler (as a roadie), a drummer named Beano and fellow Liverpudlian Gary Lester. They later released an album called Venus of the Hardsell. John also performed as a famous stage magician in the 1980s, where he became famous for predicting the assassination attempt on U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
John's first venture into occult "heroism" was a disaster. On tour with Mucous Membrane at the Nova Castra Club in Newcastle, he found the aftermath of a magical orgy gone horribly wrong: an abused child, Astra, had conjured a hideous monster that took revenge on the adults who were tormenting her, and the monster refused to leave. With typical recklessness, John convinced some members of the band, along with several occultist friends, to try destroying the creature by summoning a demon of their own. Unfortunately, this demon was not under their control and after it had destroyed the child's monster, it tormented Constantine's friends and took the child to Hell. John suffered a nervous breakdown after this incident, and was committed to Ravenscar Psychiatric Hospital, which he drifted in and out of over the years.
The guilt of Astra hung over him for many years until, in his mid-forties, he used some magic and con-artistry to free not only her, but also the souls of all the other children trapped in Hell. As for the rest of the "Newcastle Crew", the incident left the group both physically and psychologically scarred. After helping Dream retrieve his sands, Dream in turn relieves Constantine of the nightmares that had plagued him since the incident.
John is later freed from Ravenscar by London gangsters, threatening him to resurrect a mob boss's dead son whilst his sister's family pays the price. John organises a group and manages to resurrect the boy. Years later, John was able to persuade the same group to help with his investigation of the Brujería cult, as seen in Swamp Thing Nos. 37–49. The cult murdered most of them, including John's then-lover, Emma. These people, and others who have died due to John's carelessness, have continued to appear to him as silent, reproachful ghosts. Chas is the most prominent one of very few human friends to have survived a long-term association with John.
John first met Swamp Thing in 1985 after being interested in the creature. John later acts as the Swamp Thing's protector, guide, and voice of omen, even teaching the Thing to amplify his powers. Both would have further adventure with each other, such as John introducing the Thing to the Parliament of Trees, Thing using John's body to make love to his wife and father a child named Tefe, and fighting off the Damnation Army from summoning the Anti-Christ. Both carry a dull, but nevertheless fruitful friendship with each other. Constantine even invites Swamp Thing to his 40th birthday and assures the Thing he'll try not to bother him again. In 1991 while in his late thirties, John contracted terminal lung cancer. During this time, he sought the help of a dying friend, Brendan, who had sold his soul to the First of the Fallen, the most powerful lord of Hell. When the First came to collect the soul, John tricked him into drinking holy water, which rendered him helpless and prevented him from collecting the friend's soul at the appointed time.
For this, the First promised to make John suffer unprecedented torment in Hell when he dies. Slowly dying from cancer, John hatched a plan to save himself from eternal torment. He secretly sold his soul to the other two Lords of Hell. When they discovered Constantine's actions they realized that they could not allow him to die, or else they would be forced to go to all-out war over his soul, a war whose only winner would be "the Lord of the Hosts," i.e., God and his angels. They were also far too stubborn and proud, however, to enter anything resembling an alliance. As a result, they were forced to cure John of his cancer. This led to the First plotting a grand revenge on Constantine, who manipulated the demon via his ally Ellie, a succubus, into coming into a trap; the plan only barely succeeded, and while the First was temporarily defeated many of John's friends were killed.
Constantine then went on to have a series of adventures and misadventures playing the role of puppet and puppeteer with his signature style and profane sarcasm. He managed to free Astra and every other child in Hell, but at the cost of the First returning to power; also, as part of the scheme, John's worst attributes were given separate existence as "Demon Constantine" which meant he himself could not go to Hell. As part of an attempt to regain his nastier edge, he used Ellie, and this led to her taking out a revenge scheme in 1998 that forced him to turn to the First for help; Ellie ended up in Hell and several of John's oldest friends left him. John, being tired of all this, contacted God. God appears and the two converse in a campfire. John then tells him his reason for contacting Him. He warns God that if his soul is ever sent to Hell, he would easily take over, and do nasty things such as unleashing the demons and locking away Hell so that the damned cannot enter and have no resting place. John blackmails God to do his bidding, and that's to keep his soul away from Hell. God, knowing of John's abilities, does so. But warns him of what will come next.
The 21st century
On return to Britain in 2003 and after reconciling with his sister (who believed he was dead), he went on to be involved in a magic war in London and was horrified to find his niece Gemma, whom he'd wanted to keep out of this life, had become a witch. He soon ended up organising a counterstrike against a creature known as the Shadow Dog, having been warned of its coming and believing it was an entity that brought death and madness; instead, it was a guardian against the true enemy, the Beast, who was manipulating John into giving it free access to humanity. In the process, he was rendered an amnesiac, leaving him vulnerable to the schemes of the demon Rosacarnis. To get his memories back, he had to spend a day in her service, in which she had him father three demonic children, who went on to massacre anyone who knew Constantine, from friends to enemies to people who'd only briefly met him. Among them was his sister Cheryl; one of his sons had exploited her husband's religious fanaticism to make him see his wife as a witch — and thus a person to be killed. This forced Constantine to go on journey to Hell in the hopes to return his sister's soul. Accompanying him was Nergal, the demon he thought he had killed by sending him to the border of Heaven.
While in Hell, John and Nergal met the demon Constantine, who tried to kill the original one. John was forced to let Nergal enter his body in order to finish him. Later they also encountered Ellie, who seemed to have quite pardoned John for him selling her out to the First. She was not subject to any torture or punishment, either. The couple finally arrived at Rosacarnis' hall, where there was a feast with all three of Constantine's children, the First, and many demons from all Hell. Because of Nergal's earlier possession of his body, any damage done to John would be mirrored on Nergal. Nergal, however, calls the bluff, showing that the effect goes both ways by clawing at his chest slightly. John begs Rosacarnis to kill him to save his sister, but just as she's about to, the First of the Fallen intervenes and immediately kills Rosacarnis, since Constantine's soul is his by "right of insult" and will only be taken when he deems fit. The First also kills Rosacarnis' two sons, but spares the daughter, who had been dealing with issues of identity and had doubts about whether she wanted to continue to exist.
Following this, the First commands Nergal to release the soul he's holding. Cheryl's soul is pure and innocent and does not belong in Hell, but the First offers her a truly devilish deal. Informing her that her husband, Constantine's brother-in-law Tony, has killed himself with her blood still staining his hands, thus making him twice damned, and offering to fairly divide her husband's punishment between the two of them if she stays of her own free will. Constantine attempts in vain to argue that Tony murdered her and does not deserve that mercy. Despite all that has happened, Cheryl still loves her husband enough to accept the First's deal and decides to stay. Constantine can do nothing as the First gloats over his victory and then sends him back home. Unable to look at his niece Gemma's tear-filled eyes because of his failure, Constantine runs barefoot down the stairs and into the Liverpool night.
John later revisits Ravenscar Asylum, the place where he was thrown after being framed for Astra's murder. John remembers all the maltreatment he suffered, and remembers every suffering and guilt he had for the past years. At first it appears as though it is too much for him and that he will be overtaken by the images of the ones he has hurt, but the being turns into the form of a baby. This baby, who is the sum of all his guilt and self-hatred, is then promptly thrown off a cliff near the asylum and into the sea. After killing the creature, Constantine is now free, and becomes even a bit more cocky and picks back up his earlier style from the beginning of his book and his appearances from Swamp Thing: a double-breasted blue suit underneath his trench coat, and slicked-back gelled hair.
Later on, a Sudanese shaman who had first bound the hunger demon Mnemoth has been having dreams of Constantine and a war-mage named Mako who is coming to kill him and devour his being. The reason that Constantine is a specific target of the war-mage is because he is "The Laughing Magician" who is also known as "The Constant One." Mako wants to devour him so he can absorb that power and have his being made a fixture of the universe. To counter this attack to come, the African magus puts a dream of his into a tree root, with Constantine's true nature in those dreams. After doing this a young man is sent as a messenger to find John and deliver the message. Constantine later notices that something is wrong on the synchronicity lines and it seems that he is going head first against the traffic. Remembering that Mako mentioned Ravenscar when he found out about Constantine, he tries to summon his unborn brother, but instead is summoned to his brother. The soul of Constantine's brother tells John that he was not to be born and that it should have been he who had been born instead, as he is the Laughing Magician, he requests that he and John merge their souls so that they become one and can fix the world, they had previously attempted this but John was apparently too strong willed. John then makes the link that it was the soul of his unborn brother that caused him to get cancer and for his relationships to fail, and that anytime he tried to take control of his life, something bad would happen to make John weaker, so that the souls might be able to merge. After realizing this, John cuts the soul of his brother out of his own soul, so that he can control his life and live his way.
In the 2010s, John entangles himself in further adventures. He goes to India and fights a ghost of a British soldier of the Sepoy rebellion, fights a Babylonian shape shifter named Julian, gets his thumb cut off to contact Shade: The Changing Man, marrying a young girl named Epiphany Greaves who was also the daughter of an infamous gangster, looking for his lost trench coat that his niece sold, finding his sister's long lost son named Finn, and finally getting his sister's soul from Hell.
By 2013, John was contacted by the Three Fates, who tell him that he will finally die in five days. Having lived a good and adventurous life, John happily accepts his fate rather than trying to fight it like he always does. When the 5th day came, John Constantine was murdered in his own home when he was ambushed and killed by a gangster. His funeral was attended by many of his friends and family. But it later turns out that he had faked his death yet again. Constantine decides he should keep a low profile, because he doesn't want to hurt the people around him again. He bids farewell with Finn and Epiphany, and finally visits Gemma. In the meanwhile, Gemma, hearing about her uncle's return from the Fates, tries to kill herself with a poisonous revolver, but Constantine sneaks the last remaining dart from his niece. Gemma says her life will be better without him, because he takes up too much of it and she is either hating him or loving him too much. John suggests he leave her be, but Gemma fears he will return and put her life to misery. John tells Gemma to make her own decision, and she reluctantly points the revolver at him. Gemma closes her eyes before muttering, "Damn you, John Constantine." and pulls the trigger, but when she opened her eyes again, Constantine had vanished. The last scene shows Constantine in the Long Journey's End bar, holding a glass of liquor with a vacant look.
The New 52
In The New 52, Constantine appears as one of the lead characters in Justice League Dark. His history is slightly altered, such as meeting Zatanna in New York instead of San Francisco, and the origins of how he got his trademark trench coat. During the gap where he travels the world to learn magic, the New 52 added the history of him meeting Nick Necro, who was implied to be John's mentor and original owner of the trench coat. The Forever Evil: Blight storyline would establish that the three characters were all involved in a magical pact and a love triangle, which fell apart due to Zatanna ending her relationship with Nick to pursue John. Nick states "We were all in love, and you two shut me out!" The character also stars in the ongoing series Constantine, which replaces Hellblazer. He is still an unsavory trickster in the New 52 universe, as, while during the Trinity War between the three Justice Leagues, he tries to trick Shazam (15-year-old Billy Batson) so that he can steal his magic. He fails, causing Billy to become even more distrustful of other people than he already was.
In Constantine #14, it was revealed that John Constantine, as a boy, was taught and cast his first magical spell—at the cost of the lives of his parents and his house burning down (it was implied that his mother, unlike in Hellblazer, survived the childbirth). It was also revealed that he spent his childhood in the '80s in Liverpool, England (it is not shown if he had any sibling, like Cheryl Constantine in Hellblazer). The one who taught John his first spell was Tannarak from the Cult of the Cold Flame (Constantine #15).
His primary enemies in Constantine are Mister E, Sargon the Sorceress (the original Sargon's daughter), and Tannarak: all are members of the Cult of the Cold Flame. Together with his allies Papa Midnite, the psychic mage Spellbinder, and a witch called Julia Everheart, Constantine attempts to destroy the Cult by conspiring a scam to take Sargon and Tannarak by surprise. However, prior to the planned battle, Constantine is thrown into the battlefield in Dar es Salaam in World War I because of a ritual going wrong, making his plan ultimately fail. An encounter with Doctor Occult there results in Constantine being transported to Earth-2 - a world dying under siege from Darkseid and his army of Parademons.
In Earth-2, he is assaulted by the Parademons, but Wotan comes and rescues him, before trapping him to open a gateway to escape the dying Earth. Constantine manages to convince Wotan to spare his life, then works with the ancient sorcerer to open a door through his body to Earth-0. As Wotan enters the doorway, he is split into two halves, because there are two John Constantines in this world: the original Constantine and the native one of Earth-2, who is surrounded by his friends and even gets married. After the death of Wotan, Constantine resolves to find his Earth-2 counterpart. He travels to Liverpool and witnesses all the horror and despair of the dying world. As soon as John reached the destination, he is shocked to find his "parents" (actually the Earth-2 John's parents), his friends Gary Lester, Chas Chandler and his former love interest Maureen still alive.
The Earth-2 John quickly attacks him by grabbing him in the neck, but they are engulfed in visions of their lives in parallel right after: a dangerous life marred with sorcery, adventures and regrets of Earth-0 John and a much quieter, much happier life of Earth-2 John. Constantine quickly earns the trust of the Earth-2 family, who consider him to be a wonder. Together, they escape to a warehouse where John instructs them to draw sigils to cast a complex spell. As John is lecturing about the unpredictability and the price of magic, Doctor Fate appears in front of his eyes, claims to have foreseen his arrival and offers to help him.
Doctor Fate reminds John of an incoming horde of Parademons and tells him to quickly cast the spell to escape from the dying world, himself hoping to flee with John and the family too. John discovers that the spell requires one Constantine dies: either himself or the Earth-2 John. As the Parademons storm in and take each family member down one by one, John is torn over between saving his own life and let the good, honest Earth-2 John live by sacrificing himself. Finally, he chooses to save his own skin: as he is kissing the other John, he holds his hand and drives the knife into his heart, ultimately kills the "other John". As the spells start working, John casts an additional spell to trick Doctor Fate, which masks his presence from the ancient sorcerer, then departs, brings along the family members and many other people.
By killing the "proper" Constantine, he earns the wrath and hatred of the Earth-2 family. Being called "Devil", John corrects the family when they reach Heaven while peeling through the layers of the dying world: Heaven itself, also under assault from Darkseid's force, has closed its door and started departing, deems this world beyond salvation. Later, John and his entourage are attacked by Doctor Fate, who manages to detect Constantine's whereabout. Despite succeeding in countering the assault, John loses his "mother" Mary-Anne, who is dragged back by Fate's chain. This greatly traumatizes Thomas Constantine, John's father, who even attempts to commit suicide, but is talked out of it by John.
After a long and hard trip, Constantine finally makes it back home, but Darkseid has sensed him and is in hot pursuit. As the menacing hand of the Apokolips God is reaching to him, Constantine enacts his "last trick": by sacrificing some souls of his entourage, John manages to get enough power to cast the "Ring of Dolus" spell, which uses every happy memories, every pleasant thought, every piece of hope in John Constantine to swirl a magical "web" made of lies. This powerful spell helps John projecting an illusion of an already dead universe to fool Darkseid, while John manages to bring himself, the family and the Earth-2 civilians to safety - he even pickpockets some survivors back from Darkseid's clutch.
As Constantine lands in the Jurassic Coast, England, he is confronted by Thomas, who points a gun at his head. Tired of everything, John yells at his father, begs him to kill him off for good. Unable to do it, Thomas drops his gun, but Maureen quickly puts it up and prepares to shoot John while questioning his actions. John contemplates and sees that he is no hero, but he is the only one willing to sacrifice "proper John" to save his family, or trade a hundred people for the safety of six billion. He magically teleports away, leaves the family and the survivors behind. Later, John goes back to New York and visits his old friend Lloyd at his bar to tell him about his latest adventures.
The New 52 Constantine series ends at issue #23 and was relaunched as Constantine: The Hellblazer written by Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV in June 2015.
The Constantine Futures End tie-in tells the story of John Constantine five years into a possible future of the New 52 universe. He somehow obtains the ultimate occult artifact, the Helmet of Fate, and manages to trick and kill the ancient magician Nabu with the help of an old ifrit.
John Constantine's origin in the New 52 universe is seemingly retconned in the Secret Origins series. In the story, a group of kids in Liverpool manages to get their hands on an occult book and uses it to summon a magical creature called Legendbreaker to discover Constantine's true origin. Instead, the creature tells three conflicting stories: one featuring John's mother dead in childbirth, leaving him to his abusive father; another have John Constantine being born in a loving family with proud and doting parents; the last one is a John born in an unremarkable family, but his older sister is mad and (probably) possessed by a dark force. They all lead to the death of his entire family and set the path for John Constantine into the world of magic, to the fateful incident in Newcastle, albeit the actions and consequences are different. The creature tries to claim the souls of the young "mystics", but the real John Constantine shows up and chases it away. He tells the kids to go back home, forget what has just happened, and his true origins will forever remain unknown - but it does not matter.
John Constantine stars in the DC You title Constantine: The Hellblazer written by Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV. The title introduces John in a new outfit and new hairstyle, in his own adventures, unrelated to superheroes business.
Constantine uses magic to trick a cashier in a clothes store and gets himself a new suit. He pickpockets a passengers, uses the money to buy a meal in a small restaurant and gets acquainted to its owner Oliver, a single father of two daughters. As John is busy chatting and flirting with Oliver, an old "friend", the demon Blythe, pulls John away and convinces him to help them solve their problems in their latest business place, a soul farm. They want John to eliminate their business partner, which John completes, and he also cons Blythe to banish herself back to Hell. Suddenly, John sees his entire ghost entourage, and Gary Lester's ghost - who has tried to warn him since the beginning - tells him that Frank North's spirit had vanished completely, and something had been after John's ghosts. John tries to set up a scheme to lure and trap the entity which had been after his ghosts, by ramping up quite a number of ghosts from 'haunted sites'. The plan fails and Gary Lester's ghost is also taken by the being. After a few flashbacks and meeting with an old acquaintance named Georgie, John begins to unravel the true identity of the ghost-hunting entity, as his (and Georgie's) old time lover, Veronica. After releasing Veronica's soul, Constantine starts to notice (and is also warned by other beings whom he deems as 'friends') the increasing number of supernatural activities in New York city. Being part of Neron's grand scheme, John manages to con (after quite a bit of struggle) Neron into thinking the souls he had claim to be worthless, and leaves New York city for good. Albeit the cost of Oliver's soul which Blythe had claimed by previously blackmailing the latter and John with the souls of his daughters. Afterwards the story is picked up by "The Hellblazer: Rebirth" when john gets back to London to remove the curse placed upon him (shown in Constantine: The Hellblazer) and resumes his adventures in the new DC rebirth-initiative The Hellblazer series with recurring allies such as Mercury and the Swamp Thing.
Appearances and mentions
John Constantine appears in an early issue of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. There in 1989, he helps Dream recover a pouch of sand which had served as one of Dream's totems of power. John had purchased the pouch during Dream's imprisonment and it had then been stolen from him by an ex-girlfriend. John and Dream find the woman using the sand as a drug and driven mad by it. Dream recovers the pouch, granting the woman a peaceful death at John's request and promising to end the nightmares John had been having "ever since Newcastle". John's ancestor Lady Johanna Constantine also plays a significant role in storylines of The Sandman and an Elizabethan-era "Jack Constantine" is mentioned.
In another of Gaiman's comics, The Books of Magic, John is at hand to show the hero Timothy Hunter around the then-present day DC Comics Universe, along with Mister E, Doctor Occult and the Phantom Stranger. He later appears several times in both the monthly "Books of Magic" series and several mini and maxiseries featuring Timothy Hunter.
During a crossover, Constantine met Shade, The Changing Man during the Hotel Shade era, by Peter Milligan and Chris Bachalo. Constantine also makes a small cameo in Vertigo's Lucifer. In issue No. 5 he is seen drinking at Lucifer Morningstar's bar Lux, among guests that seek an audience with Lucifer about the gateway to the void outside of creation. According to himself he's not there to propose a trade with Lucifer, only to take "a quick look at the field". Lucifer Morningstar makes a return cameo in Hellblazer No. 192. Lucifer writer Mike Carey wrote Hellblazer between issues 175–215.
Constantine is one of the few people aware of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and one of the few to have foreseen it. Although longtime allies Zatanna, the Phantom Stranger and Swamp Thing are still either active or frequently referred to in the DCU's world of superheroics, the world of Hellblazer became more realistic and no mention was made of John's interactions with superheroes, which included attending the funeral of Hal Jordan uninvited, drinking with Doom Patrol member Mento, meeting Batman, attending the opening of Guy Gardner's Green Lantern theme bar, helping an incarnation of the Challengers of the Unknown save London from one of the Millennium Giants and, in his own comic, playing host to a stoned Zatanna at his fortieth birthday party. He does complain about superheroes not getting in trouble for collateral damage as he does at the beginning of The Fear Machine story arc. Constantine was slated to be a main character of the aborted company-wide crossover Twilight of the Superheroes, however the project was ultimately shelved.
John Constantine can be seen in a panel in Neil Gaiman's Batman: Secret Origins story "When is a Door". In it, a film crew is asking people on the street what they think of Gotham's super-villain problem, John is shown smoking a cigarette, responding "Sorry squire, I'm not from 'round here' make that "no comment."" Though it is not stated that this is Constantine, he has the same appearance, speaks in a decidedly British fashion, and this would not be the first cameo Gaiman has given him in a comic. The story was later reprinted as an extra in Gaiman's "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader". He briefly met Oliver Queen in a London pub, telling him to mention his name to the dark forces in Sherwood Forest, although Queen ignored the request.
While not seen in the Justice League Unlimited comic books he was mentioned. He also rates a mention along with Swamp Thing as unavailable in The Spectre (vol. 2) No. 11 (a crossover with Millennium, to which he alluded in Swamp Thing, trying to get the latter to assist). Constantine appeared in the pages of Justice League of America: Wedding Special, during the bachelor party of Green Arrow. He was walking behind Metamorpho during a conversation between Hal Jordan and John Stewart.
In the final issue of the Brightest Day series, Constantine appears on the last page, remarking "Bollocks" at news that a new Swamp Thing has appeared. Constantine starred in Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search For Swamp Thing, a three-issue mini-series that saw John interact with various DC superheroes during his pursuit of the new Swamp Thing. DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio stated that the John Constantine in the DC Universe will be closer to his original incarnation while Constantine in Vertigo's Hellblazer would continue unaffected.
- John Constantine debuted in the Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Three comic series as Batman's newest ally against Superman, written by Tom Taylor. He takes part in the war to protect his illegitimate daughter Rose, whose "parents" are killed in the crossfire of the war between the Green Lantern Corp - Batman allies and the joint force of Superman and Sinestro Corp. He hides Rose inside the Tower of Fate, which resides in a separate magical realm, and proceed to strike a deal with Trigon, then recruit Detective Chimp and other magical characters including Klarion the Witch Boy and Etrigan the Demon. Together, he has to face a new enemy who allies himself to Superman's side: The Spectre (who is later revealed to no longer reside in Jim Corrigan, but Mister Mxyzptlk). Later on, John Constantine unsuccessfully attempts to recruit Swamp Thing, who cites Superman and Luthor's efforts in protecting the environment as a reason to join the Regime's side. When Superman's force attacks Batman's hideout, the Tower of Fate, Constantine summons Trigon to attack Superman and allow Batman's team time to escape to the House of Mystery. Trigon wreaks havoc inside the Tower, but he is stopped by Mister Mxyzptlk, who proves to be a real match to Trigon. Their magical battle leads them to the House of Mystery's location, where resulting raging hellfire and magical vortex from the duel threaten to destroy both sides. Batman's team chooses to reside in the House of Mystery while Superman's team regroup in the House of Secret, but with the Man of Steel greatly weakened by the magic. Doctor Fate offers a solution: he will use the power from Billy Batson's Shazam lightning to cast a spell to banish both Trigon and Mxyzptlk to "the Void". The plan is successful, but everyone is knocked out before Zatanna arrives and transports Team Batman away to another hideout, while Doctor Fate himself disappears along with the two magical powerhouses. It is finally revealed that all of John's involvement in the war is only to get rid of Trigon, which will ensure his daughter Rose's safety. He states however that he actually does hate Superman then recommends Batman start "thinking outside the box". He finally "magically relocates" with Rose and leaves a puzzled Batman behind.
- The Earth-2 version of John Constantine appears in Earth-2 World's End. John Constantine was a Liverpool native who spent his youth in a rock band alongside his lifelong friends Chas Chandler and Gaz. Eventually, he settled down, marrying Maureen and retired to Liverpool. On his 30th birthday, John and his friends decided to brave through the invasion of their world by the aliens of Apokolips to celebrate at the local pub. During their celebration, however, John was weakened by the magic battle being held by the John Constantine of Prime Earth who had traveled between their worlds- causing him to pass out, overheat and hallucinate. The Prime Earth John had tricked the Wizard Wotan into trying to use him as a door while forgetting that a second John Constantine existed in Earth 2, causing Wotan to be torn in two between the Prime Earth and Earth 2 Constantines, splitting him in half, with the dismembered chest and head of the wizard falling out of the unconscious John, much to the horror of his friends and Maureen. When the Prime Earth Constantine found his way to John's home in Liverpool, John attacked him in a fury, and in the ensuing struggle, awoke each other's memories in the other. Realizing that he's not a trick of Apokolips, John vouched for the alien Constantine, explaining to his family and friends that he's just a different John from a different universe, and that his magic made him a Wonder who could take them from Earth 2 to the safety of his home world. Before they could commit to anything, a pack of mindless looters, driven mad by the Apokolips signal, attacked John's house, forcing them to make a run for it through the streets of Liverpool. When one of the looters drew a gun on Constantine, the Earth Prime John jumped in front of the shot, protecting him. Taking shelter in an abandoned brick factory, where the Prime Earth John began to teach them to spread magic symbols across the factory to disguise themselves from the Parademons and prepare to take them across space to escape the dying Earth 2. Despite their attempts to keep their magic to themselves, the Constantine's spell circles attracted the attention of Doctor Fate, who explained that the only way the Prime Earth John could power the spell would be to enslave himself to Fate in the future and increasing his power, or by killing the Earth 2 Constantine. The Prime Earth Constantine explained that John's soul was preventing him from completing the ritual, and convinced him to sacrifice himself for the good of his family, allowing John to stab him through the heart during a kiss goodbye, dying so that Maureen, Chas and his parents could live to see another day on Prime Earth.
- John Constantine appears in the Smallville Season Eleven comic. He appears in the story arc, "Harbinger." When Zatanna Zatara is attacked by a man, John interferes and knocks the man out. He then introduces himself and offers her a cigarette. Zatanna and Constantine arrive at his place of business, which appears to be a black market of cursed items. He informs her that the Book of Magic she's looking for, which used to be in her father's possession, was stolen from him by a group of cultists just like the one they encountered, the Church of Blood. Zatanna says that the acolyte she fought with was already very powerful and John says that they must be planning something big. John also says that he wants the book because he intends to sell it to collectors but Zatanna says that the book belonged to her father, from which he got all his spells, so she won't let him have it. She needs to find the book of Magick and destroy it like she did with all the other items he had cursed. Constantine then says that she can't battle with all these men from the cult on her own and that she needs help to do so. The two form an uneasy partnership, even though they still disagree about who will take the book at the end. Following an abduction of a teenage girl by the cult, Zatanna and John Constantine are closing in on the Church of Blood, who is preparing a final sacrifice at Stonehenge to bring the demon Trigon to Earth. They arrive moments before the cult appears ready to kill the girl. Just as Brother Blood, the leader, raises his ceremonial dagger, John and Zatanna descend from the sky. They succeed to prevent the girl's sacrifice with Constantine attacking the cult members but suddenly Brother Blood reveals that he was the true sacrifice all along and then stabs himself in the heart. While demons claw their way out of Brother Blood's body, Constantine grabs the Book of Magic and makes off with it, abandoning Zatanna and the girl to deal with the demons on their own. With no other options, the two run from the attacking demons. Constantine retreats to a nearby truck as Zatanna is left alone with the girl at Stonehenge to face the demons. The ghosts of those he's let die in the past watch him accusingly, but he insists he doesn't care about leaving her and the girl behind. Constantine eventually has a change of heart and hurries back to Brother Blood's body. He reaches inside the slain man's opened chest to extract one of his organs. Then he recites an exorcism spell that banishes the demons back to the pits of Hell from whence they came, saving both their lives. Later, Zatanna meets Constantine at one of the bars and she thanks him for not letting her die. She also tells him that she considers D.E.O.'s offer to become a consultant and John says that now that she doesn't have to search for any other cursed objects of her father's she is free to do what she wants. He then gives her back the Book of Magic, deciding not to sell it, and takes his leave through a closet. When Constantine returns at his flat in London, two D.E.A. agents meet him at the door saying they'd like a word with him. Constantine promptly turns them into frogs and collects their badges in a bucket already containing quite a few other police badges.
- The character of Jack Carter in Warren Ellis and John Cassaday's comic book series Planetary is an analogue of John Constantine; he fakes his death and turns into an analogue of Ellis' Spider Jerusalem, stating that with the 1980s over, it's "time to be someone else": this has been interpreted as Ellis criticising the Constantine character for being too tied to his origins as a reaction to 1980s politics and stating that more modern characters have since taken on his mantle.
- Constance Johanssen, a blonde, chain-smoking British woman in a trenchcoat was also created by Ellis for his Pryde and Wisdom series for Marvel Comics, described as "Constance Johanssen. Excellent occult detective. Has a habit of getting her friends killed. Two hundred at last count."
- A Bat-Mite version of John Constantine appeared in Batman: Mitefall.
- Grant Morrison originally wanted Constantine to become a supporting character in his Doom Patrol series, but DC's editorial policy at the time prevented Constantine from making extended appearances in superhero comics, for fear of spoiling the realism of Hellblazer. As a result, Morrison created the magus Willoughby Kipling. It was revealed in Hellblazer No. 51 that he and Constantine have met, and he had a brief voice-over cameo in Warren Ellis' JLA: Classified story "New Maps of Hell".
- Ambrose Bierce is the name of a character intended to be John Constantine in Phil Foglio's Stanley and His Monster limited series, but changed at the last minute due to editorial policy. Gregori Eilovotich Rasputin played a similar role for Firestorm and Captain Atom as Constantine did for Swamp Thing, while Hellblazer was a Jack Kirby-style reinterpretation of the character who appeared in Doom Patrol and The Books of Magic.
- According to actor Misha Collins, the wardrobe of the character Castiel on the TV show Supernatural is based on that of John Constantine.
- In the CrossGen title Mystic No. 15, magical characters from different literature, including DC and Marvel's sorcerers, made some appearances in a bar. John Constantine appears in the background.
- A reference to him was made in the Marvel universe in Hellstorm No. 2, where a full description of Constantine was made by Doctor Strange and Hellstorm while sitting and talking in a bar. Hellstorm described him as a Brit who "smokes like a fiend."
Hellblazer boosted the popularity and image of the occult detective fiction genre and shaped it to its modern form. Many modern examples of the genre such as Hellboy, Supernatural, Grimm, The Originals, Felix Castor, and The Dresden Files have been influenced by the character. Many imitators of both the series and its character flourished such as Criminal Macabre, Gravel, Planetary, and others. Its elements and style have been used countless of times in other works and many analogues of the cynical John Constantine have appeared.
Powers and abilities
Unlike most comic book magicians, Constantine rarely uses magical spells, unless he has to, especially in combat. Constantine faces most of his challenges relying primarily on his cunning, quick-thinking during fights, vast knowledge of the occult, manipulation of opponents and allies, and an extensive list of contacts. These skills are often more useful than his magical ones. He is known to have deceived many of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe, such as The First of the Fallen and The Presence, as well as manipulating Batman and Superman. He is considered by many as being the world's greatest con man. Constantine is also one of a few people knowing all the routes to Heaven, Hell, and the afterlife, which he uses to escape and teleport without the danger of being chased by enemies. In the graphic novel Pandemonium, he once allowed himself to be killed, but later resurrects himself by exiting the afterlife.
As a sorcerer, Constantine is armed with the knowledge of many magical spells, rituals, and curses, such as evocation, necromancy, illusions, invisibility, and can even use magic to time travel. He also has a wide range of protection magic such as sigils and magic circles that can protect him from both physical and supernatural attacks. But John's most signature ability is synchronicity wave travelling, which is an instinctual supernatural ability for Constantine to make his own luck. This has led John to uncanny luck at games of chance, the ability to avoid and escape harm, meet the right kind of ally to help prevent or stop an apocalyptic event from happening, and reshape the battle he's fighting to his own accord. Constantine is also highly resistant to many psychic attacks such as telepathy, possessions, and mind control. He can even use magic to block off omnipresence, seen where he once used sigils to hide himself from the First of the Fallen. By the New 52, other magical powers such as mild teleportation, counter spells, elemental magic, telekinesis, and immobilisation have been added. He can also use magic to reflect damages done to him onto his enemies.
Aside from sorcery, Constantine has also exhibited considerable mastery in "stage magic skills"—hypnosis, sleight of hand, pick pocketing and escapology. John also carries with him an arsenal of powerful magical artifacts to aid him in battle, such as The House of Mystery which also serves as his transport to different realms of the universe, and his trademark trench coat that also possesses powerful demonic powers. Ever since tricking the Lords of Hell into curing his lung cancer, he was perpetually in good health and physicality. Constantine's blood is demonically tainted, initially by a blood transfusion from the demon Nergal, and later by sex with a succubus. His blood has been shown to have healing properties, and is noted to have an age-managing effect. It also acted as a defence mechanism when attacked by the King of the Vampires, as it is highly corrosive and poisonous. Constantine's skill at unarmed combat varies depending on the writer. Some portray him as a poor physical fighter, others as a capable hand-to-hand combatant. Over time he has won occasional fights using magical weapons, by fighting dirty, or by quick-thinking.
In real life
|“||One day, I was in Westminster in London—this was after we had introduced the character—and I was sitting in a sandwich bar. All of a sudden, up the stairs came John Constantine. He was wearing the trenchcoat, a short cut—he looked—no, he didn't even look exactly like Sting. He looked exactly like John Constantine. He looked at me, stared me straight in the eyes, smiled, nodded almost conspiratorially, and then just walked off around the corner to the other part of the snack bar.
I sat there and thought, should I go around that corner and see if he is really there, or should I just eat my sandwich and leave? I opted for the latter; I thought it was the safest. I'm not making any claims to anything. I'm just saying that it happened. Strange little story.
His second meeting with his creation was illustrated in 2001's Snakes and Ladders, an adaptation by Eddie Campbell of one of Moore's performance art pieces:
|“||Years later, in another place, he steps out of the dark and speaks to me. He whispers: " I'll tell you the ultimate secret of magic. Any cunt could do it."||”|
They met a third time in fiction, when Moore was written into issue No. 120 of Hellblazer by then-author Paul Jenkins. Moore is seen sitting in silhouette at the back of a bar as John Constantine (who is on a pub crawl with the reader) raises a drink to him.
Writers who had their run on the Hellblazer series have also admitted meeting the character in real life. Original Hellblazer writer, Jamie Delano also claims to have encountered Constantine, during his run on the character, outside the British Museum. Peter Milligan saw Constantine at a party around 2009 and rushed after him, only to find he'd disappeared. Brian Azzarello once saw him in a Chicago bar but avoided him, saying that "the thing about John is, the last thing you'd want to be is his friend."
The character won the 1986 "Favourite Supporting Character" by Eagle Award, followed by winning it again in the same category a year later. In addition to being ranked third in Empire magazine's 50 Greatest Comic Characters and being ranked No. 10 in Wizard Magazine's Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time, he is also listed in IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes as No. 29, stating that "John Constantine is pretty low on the totem pole as far as DC's magical players go. But through a combination of guile, trickery, and plain old ornery charm, Constantine battles the worst Hell has to offer and lives to tell the tale. Constantine is a byproduct of both the punk rock era and Margaret Thatcher's Britain. He isn't very nice, he drinks and smokes like they're both going out of style, and his friends always seem to pay for his own magical misdeeds. And yet we can't help but love this crusty old magician all the same." Watchmojo listed Constantine in its Top 10 Comic Book Anti-Heroes. In 2013, ComicsAlliance ranked Constantine as #30 on their list of the "50 Sexiest Male Characters in Comics".
The character also garnered some negative reception, where UGO.com listed both Constantine and Zatanna in UGO's the Dirtiest Comic Book Sex Scenes, where they comment that, "One DC heroine who often finds herself unlucky in love is the backwards magician Zatanna, who can never seem to find a quality dude. One of the most fulfilling relationships she's had to date is with that reprobate sorceror [sic] John Constantine, who is the very definition of a "love 'em and leave 'em" kind of dude. The pair hooked up a number of times but their respective worldviews were just too different, plus he's straight Vertigo and she's wiping minds in the Justice League. The commute would be hideous." During Brian Azzarello's run on the series, the Ashes & Dust in the City of Angels story arc gained controversy for portraying Constantine in a bisexual relationship, though it wouldn't be the last time Constantine's bisexuality was explored.
Fandomania.com ranked the film Constantine in No. 13 of their Ultimate 20 Comic Book Film Adaptations, stating that Keanu Reeves's performance "was good", although saying it might have been better if "played by the person the character was originally modelled after: Sting of the Police." TopTenz.net ranked him No. 5 in Top 10 Comic Book Anti-Heroes, saying that "Just knowing John Constantine is likely to get you killed: during his comic's run just about every member of his supporting cast has either been killed, maimed, mutilated, tortured and coerced into making deals with fiends from the Pit. And yet Constantine goes on, a supernatural warrior willing to pay almost any price to keep the darkest evil at bay. In recent times Constantine has got rid of the guilt and self-loathing plaguing him by magically giving it the physical form of a baby and throwing it off a cliff. What a magnificent bastard..."
Sonia Harris from Comics Should Be Good praised Hellblazer, saying that "watching John delve into his past in order to exorcise his (and the worlds) literal and metaphorical demons is a delight. Simon Bisley does an incredible job of visually contrasting the pretty young version of Constantine with the imposing man he has become. Time and misadventure have scarred and hardened John, and the man he has become has the strength and will to transform his environment by channelling the anger that pained him so much as a young, fresh-faced, suicidal punk kid." Constantine ranked 30th on ComicsAlliance's 50 Sexiest Male Characters in Comics list that even though almost all of his relationships end badly, they can't warn others against his wily charms.
In other media
- A live action Constantine TV series was developed for NBC with Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer writing and executive producing the series. Welsh actor Matt Ryan was cast in the title role, for which he adopted Constantine's blond hair and an English accent. The show, which lasted thirteen episodes before cancellation, followed John's journeys across America alongside his friend Chas and a young woman named Zed who is being hunted down by a demon. Along the way, he solves supernatural mysteries, vanquishes demons, and clashes with officious angels sent to watch over him. Despite a positive reaction from fans, poor ratings led to the show not being renewed. A decision not to explore Constantine's bisexuality in the show caused some consternation with fans, although the character continued to be portrayed as bisexual in the comics.
- Following the series' cancellation, a crossover episode with the TV series Arrow aired, with Ryan reprising the role as John Constantine guest-starring in the episode, "Haunted". In flashbacks, he first meets Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) on the island Lian Yu where he introduces Oliver to magic and gives him a tattoo for magical protection after Oliver saves his life. In the present-day narrative, Oliver calls in a favor from John, set five years later, and John helps Oliver restore the soul of his friend Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) after she is resurrected by the Lazarus Pit. Constantine's off-screen adventures are subsequently referred to in the episodes "Taken" and "Genesis".
- John Constantine appears in Justice League Action, voiced by Damian O'Hare. He appears in "Abate and Switch" where he helps Batman save Superman and Wonder Woman after their powers were temporarily disabled by the remaining Brothers Djinn Abnegazar, Rath, and Nyorlath. During this time, John Constantine had accidentally cast a British accent spell on himself causing Batman to translate it. He later joins in the battle with the three Brothers Djinn members and Black Adam. After the four villains were defeated by Shazam and the Justice League, John Constantine sent the four villains through a portal to an unknown location that Batman couldn't get the translation from John Constantine from.
- On January 8th, 2017, the CW announced an animated Constantine series on their online CW Seed app with Matt Ryan set to reprise the role. It is unknown if the show will tie into his previous live-action show and appearances, will be set in the CW's Arrowverse or if its a completely new incarnation.
- John Constantine appeared in the 2005 film Constantine portrayed by Keanu Reeves. The film used some elements from Garth Ennis' "Dangerous Habits" story arc (issues No. 41–46) and others—such as the inclusion of Papa Midnite—from the "Original Sins" trade paperback. The film changed several aspects of the source material, however, including a number of cosmetic changes to the lead character, e.g., his name is spoken as "constan-teen", and Reeves played the role with his natural accent and hair colour, as well as the film basing him in Los Angeles (although the director pointed out that the comic book was not exclusively set in London either). Other differences to the comic were made, for example giving him a psychic ability to see "half breeds" as they truly are—a curse that caused him to attempt suicide which in turn damned him to Hell. He was also given the ability to render invisible beings in his proximity visible by using the incantation "Into the light I command thee" and two magical glyphs (called "The Perfect Red King" from Eugenius Philalethes's "The Speculum Veritatis") on his arms to combine, which he uses to uncloak the archangel Gabriel directly after he attacked his friend Chas. Unlike the comic version, Constantine's exorcism tools are primarily based on Christian relics rather than generic supernatural items; the novelisation expanded on this by explaining that, as Constantine comes from a Christian culture, he has a greater natural understanding of the power of Christian relics that makes it easier for him to use them. Constantine's exorcisms are motivated by a desire to redeem himself for his past suicide, yet they are constantly doomed to fail as everything he has done has fundamentally been for his own benefit rather than for the selfless betterment of others. The resolution of the lung cancer plotline in the film was also amended, with Lucifer saving the redeemed Constantine to give him a second chance at failing after Constantine willingly sacrificed a chance to save his own life to ask Satan to send the innocent Isabel Dodson to Heaven (Isabel having committed suicide to prevent herself being used as a host for a demonic incursion).
- Constantine will appear in the upcoming animated film Justice League Dark, with Matt Ryan reprising his role.
- THQ released a video game film tie-in of the film entitled Constantine. An analogue of the character made an appearance in The Golden Dawn, a Call of Cthulu RPG book by John Tynes, John T. Snyder, Garrie Hall and Alan Smithee. The authors recommended Hellblazer in the book.
- John Constantine also appeared in the MMORPG DC Universe Online. In the heroes side, he resides within the Hero Garrison in the Gotham Wastelands. He must be talked to for the Wrath daily missions, while in the villains side he is random boss in the Cathedral duo for Villains.
- In Batman: Arkham Knight, there is an office front for John Constantine on Founder's Island.
The noir fiction author John Shirley is credited in writing three Hellblazer novels, including the novelisation of the Constantine film. The novel Hellblazer: War Lord features Constantine talking about "another John Constantine in an alternate universe, [who] has black hair and lives most of his life in Los Angeles" whilst giving a brief summary of the film's plot.
DC Direct created a toyline of John which is more related to his comic book appearance. Another action figure toy line was created by DC Heroclix, which resembles the Constantine in The New 52. Film tie-in merchandise of the film were also released.
- Swamp Thing (vol. 2) No. 73--John corrects Chester Williams's "Constanteen" pronunciation; Hellblazer No. 34, letters column; Hellblazer No. 40, rhymed with "design" in a song.
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