Archive for #SaveConstantine

Occult Detectives in the News

Posted in Horror, Media, Occult Detectives with tags , , , , , on November 5, 2015 by Occult Detective

golemLet’s start in the world of four colors — Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden team up with artist Patric Reynolds and colorist Dave Stewart to bring Joe Golem to life once more. I didn’t read Drowning City, so this was my introduction to the character. I love the idea of it, having dabbled in similar detectives of my own. Joe’s sort of a cross between Golem-esque FBI Special Agent Martin Crowe (Descendant) and the Demon Private Eye Sam Hill (reoccurring most often in various Landon Connors tales). The pictures are pretty, but there are a few issues I had with the flow of the story, more from an artistic standpoint than anything the writer hiccuped on. It’s definitely a book I’d recommend. It’s the first of three issues, so I imagine most will wait for the trade. That’s bad for business, overall, but hey, the comic industry of my childhood’s been under sod for better than two decades now. No point in bellyaching.

simoniffOn Wednesday we took Connor down for a doctor’s appointment at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. My faith in doctors (or rather, my lack thereof) was unshaken. As long as they remain slaves to pharmaceutical companies and close-minded to anything other than their narrow world view, their usefulness is virtually nonexistent.

On the way home, however, we did swing by Half-Price Books and I managed to procure The Simon Iff Stories & Other Works and The Drug & Other Works, both by famed esotericist Aleister Crowley. Iff, who appears in Crowley’s novel Moonchild, is one of my favorite occult detectives, so finding these collections, for a grand total of just under ten dollars, was a score and a half.

A shame that Crowley is not more well known for his fiction. He had a real knack for it. A shame too that he didn’t pursue it more vigorously.

ConstantineI guess the big kicker in occult detective news yesterday was Matt Ryan slipping into John Constantine’s trenchcoat again for a guest-stint on Arrow. ‘Haunted‘ was a decent outing and Matt Ryan did old Conjob honorably enough. His accent was slipping here and there, but given his tight schedule, it can be forgiven.

Some of the special effects were a little underwhelming and that Horus Grimoire prop was pretty damn cheap looking, but I was just thrilled to see Ryan as Constantine again.

I really wish the series would have made it, and I wish the Arrow showrunners could have brought John in for a season long arc, but we get what we get…

There’s still a slim chance Matt’ll get a run at Constantine again on the big screen as a part of Justice League Dark (which is still in development). Time will tell…

Oh, and in case you hadn’t heard, Destination America has a new paraentertainment series out — The Demon Files featuring ‘demonologist’ Ralph Sarchie. My advice? Skip it. It’s what we in the business like to call ‘first rate buffoonery’. This joker wouldn’t know a demon if it bit him on the arse. He and Zak Bagans should be pen pals.

“…all trenchcoat and cigarette and arrogance…”

Posted in Magick, Media, Occult Detectives with tags , on August 6, 2015 by Occult Detective

I was realizing this morning that It’s been something like 13 months since the Constantine trailer first leaked online and almost 6 months since the series finale dropped.

Airing just 13 episodes, from October 24 to February 13, Constantine, starring Matt Ryan as the quintessential occult detective, was pretty much what I’d hoped it would be.

It had tremendous potential, but the network ultimately made the call to cut it loose, and, despite a rabid #SaveConstantine campaign, John Constantine exited stage left.

Constantine’s troubles didn’t stop there either, if you can believe that. What I thought was a renaissance for the character has become more akin to character assassination.

His long running Vertigo series, Hellblazer, was cancelled after 300 issues in favor of a more DC Universe friendly version and a starring turn in Justice League Dark. Neither of these would ultimately last very long.

Constantine itself would tally just 23 issues, while Justice League Dark managed 40 before DC closed the door. John Constantine has returned to comics in Constantine: The Hellblazer, but let’s be honest, it’s serviceable at best.

I am in the occult detective business, both real and imagined. I really wanted Constantine to work out because we need a quality ghostbreaker on the small screen (sorry Grimm, you don’t cut it) and I had hopes he would transition to the big screen as well.

Matt Ryan played the character superbly and he recently addressed Stephen Amell and Marc Guggenheim’s interest in seeing Constantine appear on Arrow:

“I’ve heard the rumors and I think it would be really exciting. I think it would be cool to see how they wrote those two characters interacting with each other, you know?…I love the way he (John Constantine) reacts in the comics, in the DC Universe with all those other characters. It’ll just be a little bit of fun, to see how he would react to The Flash, the Arrow…I told them before I left that I’ll be up for reprising the role, if down the line if they would ever want me to do that.”

Well, that’s a start. Season 4 of Arrow has been said to have a “magic and mysticism” theme. Having Constantine and other DC Universe characters such as Zatanna, Deadman, and Dr. Fate, would go a long way toward appeasing me somewhat.

Ultimately, the genre needs a shot in the arm. Something fresh. Something exciting. There is a dearth of seriously good occult detectives out there, in any medium. There’s too much carbon-copy urban fantasy dreck cluttering things up.

There are writers out there pulling it off, like Brian Keene, William Meikle, and Joshua Reynolds to name a few, and Mike Mignola’s keeping the torch lit in comics. But we need something on the idiot box and up on the big screen.

I thought John Constantine to be the perfect fit for TV and the movies. Maybe a successful run on the CW as a guest star will convince the powers that be to give him another go. And maybe DC will pull their heads out of their arse and give him a proper comic run again.

Or maybe John’s working a long con and has more important things to do.

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My thoughts on Waiting for the Man #SaveConstantine

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags , , , on February 16, 2015 by Occult Detective

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Season 1 / Episode 13
Waiting for the Man

written by Cameron Welsh
directed by David Boyd

“…we can all shape our destiny,
but none of us get to escape our fate.”
— John Constantine

Constantine - Season 1

So there is then — either the season or series finale of Constantine. If that’s the last we see of Con-Job on the small screen, then he left us on a bloody high note, for sure.

Not there weren’t a few hiccups along the way. This was an awfully big story to try and squeeze into forty-three minutes. As such, Vesta didn’t really hit the mark. Her reactions and motivations rang consistently false, through no fault of the young actress.

Waiting for the Man worked on several levels, however, not the least of which being that it was a terrific summation of the series’ themes, reconnecting with milestones littered in its wake. By tying all of these elements together, the show’s true identity finally took form and promised something even better for the future.

The question now is, will that future be played out on NBC as Constantine or on Syfy as Hellblazer, or will it instead be left to our fertile imaginations?

If I were to have my way, I like the Hellblazer option, so long as the budget doesn’t stray too far from what NBC was coughing up. Sure, a bigger budget would be nice, but I don’t see that happening, not with the numbers this show has generated.

Look, the cast is solid, the scripts have done nothing but improve week in and week out, and the look and feel of the series is just what this occult detective ordered.

And now, with the reveal that Manny has been the true force behind The Rising Darkness and the Brujeria are but pawns in his game, the stakes have been raised. He’s been manipulating John all along and now has his hooks deep into Zed. It would be a shame if we don’t get to find out what the Constantine brain trust has in store… Not to mention that the tv version of the Newcastle Incident is begging to be told.

So, now the waiting game begins. Back on NBC, shuffled off to Syfy, or snuffed out altogether?

Matt Ryan deserves another dozen episodes at least, especially now that he’s sporting a proper trench.

#SaveConstantine has never seemed a more apt hashtag.

A few thoughts on Angels and Ministers of Grace

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags , on February 9, 2015 by Occult Detective

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Constantine
Season 1 / Episode 12
Angels and Ministers of Grace

written by Christine Boylan
directed by Sam Hill

“The best cure for a hangover is another drink.”
— John Constantine

The penultimate episode of Constantine’s first season needed to deliver some fire and brimstone. Against the ropes, on the verge of cancellation, this was the time to come out of the corner swinging, hopefully to land a haymaker and have everyone talking by the watercooler on Monday.

That may be what the doctor ordered, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t delivered.

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Not that there weren’t some fine moments in Angels and Ministers of Grace. Harold Perrineau and Charles Halford delivered some much needed comedy relief,  Angélica Celaya brought some real depth to Zed’s crisis of faith, and there was some legitimately cool magic being weaved by Matt Ryan’s John Constantine. The Vial of Air from Hades was a particularly nice touch.

With no news yet on Constantine being picked up for a second season, and let’s be honest, the ratings have not really warranted such talk, I would have liked to have seen more desperation from the showrunners and writers.

On the plus side, Angels and Ministers of Grace did mine from the classic DC Universe, conjuring up the Heart of Darkness, a weapon in the arsenal of The Spectre’s predecessor, Eclipso. Unfortunately, Eclipso himself was a no-show, but, maybe, if Constantine pulls a rabbit out of his hat and gets a second season (in one form or another) then just maybe we can have a visit from God’s Vengeance personified.

With only one episode left (and a real doozy of one from the sound of it, as Jim Corrigan and Papa Midnite both return for the season finale), we have to hope for the best. All thirteen cards will have been played. Then it will be up to the money-crunchers…

I should address the rumour that one of the ideas being bandied about by the powers that be is a network move from NBC to Syfy and a rebranding. Oddly enough this comes on the heels of the comic book announcement being relaunched as Constantine: The Hellblazer.

Word on the street is, if the Syfy move happens, Constantine will be retitled Hellblazer and be a helluva lot edgier, because, well, they supposedly let you get away with that sort of thing on cable (although Hannibal seems to get along just fine on network).

Also, Syfy doesn’t require as many viewers as NBC to keep a show afloat. Of course, none of that worked for the tragically underrated Dresden Files, but that’s another blog post altogether.

Fingers crossed and horns up. As I’ve stated so many times before, we need John Constantine on television.

Let’s everyone turn up next week for the finale and show our support. And if we fall, so be it. Let’s go out in a bloody blaze of glory.

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My thoughts on “Quid Pro Quo” #SaveConstantine

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags on January 26, 2015 by Occult Detective

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Constantine
Season 1 Episode 10
“Quid Pro Quo”
written by Brian Anthony
directed by Mary Harron

.:.

“Quid Pro Quo” was another solid outing by the entire Constantine team. Not perfect (I’ll touch on a few of the negatives shortly), but all in all, a damn fine way to spend a Friday night.

So, what worked? For starters, Charles Halford really shined in this Chas-centric episode. Letter perfect so far in the background, Halford commanded the stage and showed some real depth here. His character’s backstory, finally revealed, was some powerful stuff and we finally got a sense of the true weight that he’s been carrying around.

The flashbacks, particularly the bar scene, were great (and it was fun to see Lillian Axe do their best Great White impersonation). Learning Chas’ “immortality” was born by John pulling a Merlin out of his ass, and the consequences of those actions, is what really set this episode apart. Seeing how Chas dealt with this guilt, by working to ensure that the bar fire victims’ lives mattered, was stellar stuff.

Unfortunately, the subsequent crumbling of his marriage to Renee rang false. The actress was fine in the role, but the logic behind her decision to leave her husband was faulty at best. It was almost as if she’d have rather he died in the fire. I suppose, given the time constraints, they just couldn’t come up with a more expedient excuse, but I’ll forgive that little misstep.

Constantine - Season 1

“Quid Pro Qou” also introduced a new villain, straight out of the DC Universe — Felix Faust, played full tilt by Mark Margolis. Margolis chewed the scenery and shined in every scene as the perennial sorcerer’s apprentice who finally got more than a little mojo in his pockets and graduated to the center stage.

Of course, his first act was to begin sucking souls. Unfortunately for him, one of those souls belonged to Chas’ daughter, leading to an ‘explosive’ end for the Breaking Bad alum. Should Constantine get a second season, I hope the writers find a way to bring him back for another showdown with Conjob and Company.

Also making an appearance was another character from the comics, a medium by the name of Fennel (played by Roger Floyd). Fennel wasn’t around long, but the seance scene was classic Constantine and added some much needed creep factor.

It played much better than the “spectral tiger” sequence later in the episode, which came across largely as filler. I get that it was meant to cement Faust’s double-cross, but again, like the broken marriage angle, it was mismanaged by the writer, I think.

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I’m saving my biggest gripe for last. I admittedly pronounce Constantine con-stan-teen. Yes, I know that Moore, Delano, et al have declared it to be properly pronounced con-stan- tine but it just doesn’t roll off the tongue for me, but I’m working on it. Proper pronunciation matters. I wish the show would have gotten it right. It would have made the transition far easier for me.

That being said, hearing John state, “This belonged to Aleister Crowley,” really got my goat. Crowley, in case you were unaware, is pronounced to rhyme with holy. B-but, what about the Ozzy Osbourne song? Yeah, sorry to burst your bubble, kids. Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll take Robert Anton Wilson’s word for it —

A stout, elderly woman with a Cornish accent asked Lola, “I’m planning to stay for the lecture. Is it pronounced Crouly or Crowley?”

“It is pronounced Crowly,” said a voice from the door. “To remind you that I’m holy. But my enemies say Crouly, in wish to treat me foully.”

Sir John turned and saw Aleister Crowley, bowing politely to the Cornish woman as he completed his jingle. Crowley was a man of medium height, dressed in a conservative pinstripe suit jarringly offset by a gaudy blue scarf in place of the tie and with a green Borsalino hat worn at a rakish angle. It was the outfit an artist on the Left Bank might wear, to show that he had become successful; it was definitely eccentric for London.

The Cornish woman stared. “Are you really the Great Magician, as people say?”

“No,” said Crowley at once. “I am the most dedicated enemy of the Great Magician.” And he swept past imperiously.

— Robert Anton Wilson, Masks of the Illuminati (1981)

.:.

Ten episodes down. Three remain. The last episode of Constantine’s first season airs in February on Friday the 13th.

A fitting end, methinks. I’m still not sure if John will be back next season. I hope he is, but if not, I’ve sure as hell enjoyed the ride.

I’m reminded of another short-lived occult detective show I was more than a little fond of, The Dresden Files starring Paul Blackthorne. It only got 12 episodes before Syfy laid it to rest.

Here’s to hoping Constantine doesn’t suffer the same fate…

Happy Constantine Day, Hellblazers

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags on January 23, 2015 by Occult Detective

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My thoughts on The Saint of Last Resorts, Part 2 #SaveConstantine

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags , , on January 17, 2015 by Occult Detective

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.:.
The Saint of Last Resorts, Part 2
written by Mark Verheiden
directed by Romeo Tirone

“It’s not that I can’t help you, John. I won’t.”
— Manny

Not big on recaps, so I’m not going to start now. I assume that if you’re reading this it’s because you watched the episode (for good or ill) and it’s still kicking around in your brain, which is exactly why I write these things. See, I used to review a little show called LOST — seasons three through five on my now defunct myspace blog, season six right here — and I had thousands of readers. LOST was a show that made you think. It was one of infinite possibilities and it was fun to descend down that rabbit hole and theorize about the island’s past, present, and future.

I’ve tried my hand at other shows over the years — Supernatural, for instance — but it just wasn’t the same. There wasn’t much of an audience for it, especially after season 5, and I sort of lost interest. I still watch, mostly, but it felt like the show should have ended then and there, with Michael and Lucifer locked in a cage in Hell. Instead, they’re knee deep into Season 10 and have already been picked up for an eleventh.

So, why am I bringing this up.

Because Constantine has so much potential and it’s being wasted. I fear that after thirteen episodes, it won’t be back. I want it back. I do what little I can to promote the show here and on social media, but it all comes down to the numbers. Now, in my estimation, the ratings are pretty darn good for a Friday night, when most folks (other than myself) are out painting the town red. But my estimation don’t count. It’s the executives who pony up the greenbacks who get to make the call.

“It’s alright, mate. I’ve been carrying around Hell me whole life.
How much worse can the actual place be?”
—John Constantine

Let’s be honest though. David S. Goyer and Daniel Cerone have got to take some of the blame here. They miscalculated from the get-go. The show has taken some time to find its footing. There was the recasting, the reshoots, the sense of desperation from the start. The only ones who showed up from day one, guns blazing, were Matt Ryan and Harold Perrineau.

Constantine - Season 1

That’s not to say that the rest of the cast hasn’t found themselves. They bloody well have. And last night’s second part of The Saint of Last Resorts was a terrific showcase for everyone involved. Direction and writing were strong, Ryan and guest star Claire van der Boom were brilliant, we had strong performances from both Charles Halford and Angélica Celaya, and Perrineau was so damned calculated and smooth.

I get it. TV is hard to get right. To see Constantine firing so beautifully now (yes, I agree that the resolution of Zed’s cliffhanger was awkward, but I’m willing to roll with it)… it makes me wonder where the show would be sitting if it has been able to come out of the gate like this.

I’m more forgiving than most, and I’ve been on board from the the first episode. This is MY genre. That being said, I don’t watch Grimm or Sleepy Hollow, both occult detective themed shows. I gave them both a chance, but they just didn’t work for me. Constantine does, and not just because I am a fan of the comics. Believe me, if they had totally mucked this up I’d be the first one to be crying foul.

“I’m John Constantine. I do stupid in spades.”
— John Constantine

But no, Constantine is giving me what I want from an occult detective series, which is Noir and angst and magick and all those little things that these other shows just don’t have. There’s both heart and heartlessness in Constantine and that’s the bloody beauty of it.

The Saint of Last Resorts, Parts 1 and 2, is a terrific whole (despite that sloppy Zed cliffhanger). It is the benchmark for network exorcisms. That was some harrowing stuff. But should Constantine beat the odds and come back for a second season they need to be given a freer hand. They need to be allowed to hew closer to Hannibal and shed their “superhero” skin.

“You kneel here, night after night, hoping against hope that Heaven
hears your words, well guess what, John has Heaven on speed dial.”
— Zed Martin

John Constantine shines the further removed he is from the capes and cowls. NBC needs to quit thinking of this as their foray into the DC Universe, but instead as a gateway into mysticism, magick, and the macabre. They can rethink that if and when del Toro’s Justice League Dark movie gets off the ground. But for now — go dark, go gritty… let Conjob do what he does best.

They have something special here. They have the perfect actor in place. With a Season 2, they can move both heaven and hell and deliver something altogether wondrous. I believe in Constantine and I have faith in the producers, writers, and cast. They’ve delivered, in nine episodes so far, one misstep, two really good episodes, three excellent ones, and three bloody brilliant ones. Imagine what they could do with a full season to work with.

“…John believes he has every situation under control, and
he makes you believe. That’s his magic… and his curse.”
— Sister Anne Marie

Review: Constantine #21

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags on January 16, 2015 by Occult Detective

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Constantine
Issue No. 21
written by Ray Fawkes
illustrated by Jeremy Haun

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What DC Comics wants you to know: With legions of Parademons on the attack, Constantine forges an alliance with Doctor Fate. But as time begins to run out, will they escape Earth-2 – or help destroy it?

My take on it: My distaste for Nu52 John Constantine is not a closely guarded secret. John rubbing shoulders with the rest of the DC Universe has never been my favorite approach to the character, except for the likes of Zatanna, Sandman, Mister E, and the rest of the DC Occult Rabble. Still, I’ve stuck with it and it has had moments that didn’t suck pond water. Fleeting, but you count the little victories when that’s all you have.

That’s all sort of changed of late. Fawkes has writ larger a moral dilemma and placed the reader firmly inside of Constantine’s head. And boy is it powerful stuff. This arc is what one expects from a Constantine book. Capes and cowls and such are fine, but Constantine is about headier things, no?

This one is a gut-wrencher. John sees what his life could have been like had he not been such a nasty piece of work, and he wants a slice of that pie. But when the cards are on the table, John does what John always does: he looks out for himself, plays Fate, and wins the day… sort of. With Constantine, nothing’s easy.

Fawkes has done the near-impossible… he made me miss Hellblazer just a little (a very little) less. It looks like he’s finally wrapping his head around the character and understanding what makes him tick. Of course, Jeremy Haun’s art doesn’t hurt a thing. While I’m not completely sold on his pencil work, his inks make up for it. There’s something dirty about it, gritty and soiled. I wish the colours matched that tone, but all in all, there’s a sense of urgency to the collective art that sells the supernatural side of things.

This is the first time I didn’t feel like I was cheating on Hellblazer by reading this comic. Hopefully the creative team will keep the hellfires burning and we can see John Constantine reascend to the heights (or depths) that his former four colour residence maintained.

The 2014 Occult Detective Awards: The Wellman

Posted in Occult Detective Awards with tags , on January 7, 2015 by Occult Detective

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THE MANLY WADE WELLMAN AWARD

ryan as constantine

John Constantine

John Constantine? The Manly Wade Wellman Award is being given to a bloody fictional character? Yeah, well, don’t say that to Alan Moore or a handful of others who have laid eyes on him. Moore actually met Constantine on two occasions, but to my knowledge, Moore’s the only one who ever exchanged words with him. The story, as they say, goes something like this —

“One interesting anecdote that I should point out is that 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.”

“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.’ “

jld0In many ways, 2014 felt like the year of the Conjob. He was starring in three comics; his own title, Constantine, plus Justice League Dark, and Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three (though none of them hold a black ritual candle to the late, great Hellblazer series) and, of course, there’s the television show.

The idiot box version had a rocky start but actor Matt Ryan has done a stellar job throughout. The writers have seemingly found their groove, mainly by mining the original source material for the juicier bits, and the supporting cast has settled into their roles. Ratings could, honestly, be better, but it is performing solid enough considering it’s been playing to a 10pm Friday night audience.

Will the series make the leap to a second season? Only the fates can say, but I’m pulling for it… and I’m sure John is too, wherever he may be.

They’ve since decided to bump the show to the 8pm hour. Sure, it’s still on Friday night, but this gives them a fighting chance at least.

I’ve a sneaky suspicion that if John Constantine wants to be on television, he will be on television, regardless of what the rest of us might think.

Hellblazer_1So, here’s to you, John bloody Constantine, you rotten, spellcasting bastard. You’ve managed to con your way into our living rooms and have taken up root on our spinner racks. You’re even a god damn action figure. Good on ya, mate. I’m sure you’re reaping the benefits in some fashion or another. If there’s an angle, you’re working it, to be sure.

And if I’m tipping my hat to you, I guess I’d best tip it as well to Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis, Brian Azzarello, Mike Carey, Peter Milligan, and all the rest who helped spread your stories to an unsuspecting world.

Look, the Wellman Award is meant to honour those who have made a positive impact on the occult detective gene. Last year’s recipient, Tim Prasil, earned his award for the amazing research he did and continues to do, delving into the genre’s rich and storied history and shedding new light on the past. Conjob’s nod is because he represents not where the genre comes from, but where it’s going.

So, here’s your sodding award, John Constantine — a replica of John Thunstone’s cane sword. Keep it close. Treat it well. And be sure to wipe the bloody demon gore off the damned thing or it’ll take to rust.

Best of luck, chief, and if you’ve any black magic left up under that ragged trenchcoat, could you possibly #SaveConstantine?

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