Hellblazer is Dead. Long Live John Constantine.
I came to the world of John Constantine a bit later than most, I suppose. I knew of him, of course, but it wasn’t until Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic that I got my first real dose of the character. I was immediately smitten. Constantine was a real nasty piece of work. He’s been called a “working-class magician” and “con-man”. Yep, that sums it up rather nicely. He’s bitter, road-worn, and a chain smoking ne’er-do-well and I love him for it.
I’ve read the Constantine monthly, Hellblazer, pretty consistently since the late 90s. I’ve read all the specials and crossovers and gone back and tracked the character’s progress from his first appearance in Moore’s Swamp Thing.
I guess you’d call me a fan.
Hellblazer’s barking right up my proverbial tree, John being an occult detective through and through. Constantine and my own occult detective, Landon Connors (originally named Solomon Killingbeck), were born about the same time in the late 80s and I guess Moore and I were tapping into similar influences. Constantine is far more bitter than my guy, mind you. He’s far more jaded and had a tougher go of it. But they’re cut from a not dissimilar mold.
Thing is, the world needs John Constantine even more than it needs Landon Connors. Sure, Johnny’s most often looking out for himself, but he’s the one that does the dirty bits that need doing.
And here we are, with Hellblazer being cancelled with issue 300. 300? Damn, that’s a good run, isn’t it?
The internet is, of course, up in arms, with fans and creators alike screaming their displeasure. But you know what, Hellblazer may be coming to an end, but Constantine’s being restarted fresh. Will it be worth a toss? I don’t know. But what I do know is I’ll be the first in line to buy the new book and to give it a chance. If it’s utter shit then fine, I’ll trash it and move on. There are 300 issues of Hellblazer, a dozen or so special issues, and a metric shit-ton of cross-overs and such waiting to be reread.
They can’t kill John Constantine.
It’s like that old saying, “Heaven don’t want him and Hell’s afraid he’ll take over”.