Occult Detective Countdown Finale 20/20: John Constantine / #40DaysofHalloween

We’ve reached the end of our journey through our Occult Detective Countdown. There was no order, rhyme, or reason to the list. It was never a “best of” sort of thing, but I did save the best for last.

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 read the Constantine monthly, Hellblazer, pretty consistently starting in 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 watched the Keanu Reeves movie, the Matt Ryan series, and I’ve seen sporadic episodes of Legends of Tomorrow. I sat through the animated films and yes, I still pick up the comics…

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.

Where they’re different, I think, is that John’s real, or was made so. Chaos magick’s like that, you know. He’s has a rough go of it. DC’s not always been overly kind to him, saddling him with too many capes of late.

Constantine works best in his own little corner of the multiverse. Oh sure, Zatanna or Madame Xandadu are fine on occasion, even some of the other mystical blokes. But I cringe whenever I see the front and center DC proper about.

John doesn’t need to be rubbing shoulders with Batman. It makes him less… real.

Of course, as I type this, DC has cancelled John once again. His latest run, from Simon Spurrier and Aaron Campbell has been nothing short of brilliant, so of course it’s been axed. Comics are a dying medium. We can’t keep anything nice…

But that’s okay. John’s still out there, doing what we occult detectives do — stirring up trouble and getting by on a wing and a prayer, and through it all, giving the devil his due.

We’ll see you around, Constantine, in one form or another.

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