Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Free DC Comic Character Profile : Constantine - Hellblazer

FAQ about Hellblazer :

1) What is Hellblazer ?

Hellblazer is a mature reader's comic book, published monthly by DC/Vertigo. The tales told therein are based around the con-man come magus John Constantine. Born and raised in Liverpool, England, Constantine's childhood was less than ideal. His mother died giving birth to him - something which his father, Thomas, could never forgive him for.

John became interested in the occult at an early age, as a school boy he went so far as to curse his own father using his bare bones knowledge of magic. This curse would come back to haunt the adult Constantine when his father dies but is unable to pass on to whatever passes for the afterlife because of that curse made so long ago. Trapped as a ghost, the shade of Thomas Constantine would haunt his grandchild Gemma until John steps in to break the curse he made as a boy.

John's rough formative years led to his running away to London on several occasions and eventually he settled in the nation's capital with the help of his best friend Chas. It is here that Constantine has spent the bulk of his adult years, roaming the streets and becoming involved in more than his fair share of bad weirdness.

John has a strong knowledge of the occult and at times he appears to wield strong magical powers but he has also become known as something of a con-man, more likely to talk himself out of trouble than pull a rabbit out of a hat. Charastmatic in his own 'wide-boy' way, John makes friends easy but his dangerous lifestyle has left most of those who know him as such dead.

Despite his strong affinity for London, and his background as a native of Liverpool, the most important event in John's life actually occurred in the dingy confines of the Casanova Club in Newcastle, wherein Constantine met the child Astra and doomed her soul to hell.

2) Where did the Hellblazer title name come from ?

Hellblazer was originally going to be entitled Hellraiser which was more in keeping with the tone of the lead character, John Constantine. Unfortunately the release of Clive Barker's project of the same name threw a wrench in DC's plans. Hellblazer was the best that the folks at DC could come up with as a replacement in the short lead time afforded them before the title was due to ship.

3) Which Hellblazer tradepaper backs are available ?

Jamie Delano
Original Sins (Reprints Hellblazer #1-9)
The Devil You Know (Reprints Hellblazer #10-13, Hellblazer Annual #1, The Horrorist)

Garth Ennis
Dangerous Habits (Reprints Hellblazer #41-46)
Fear And Loathing (Reprints Hellblazer #62-67)
Tainted Love (Reprints Hellblazer #68-71, Hellblazer Special #1, Vertigo Jam Hellblazer story)
Damnation's Flame (Reprints Hellblazer #72-77)
Rake At The Gates Of Hell (Reprints Hellblazer #78-83)
Son Of Man (Reprints Hellblazer #129-#133)

Warren Ellis
Haunted (Reprints Hellblazer #134-#139)
Setting Sun (Reprints Hellblazer #140-143)

Brian Azzarello
Hard Time (Reprints Hellblazer #146-150)
Good Intentions (Reprints Hellblazer #151-156)
Freezes Over (Reprints #157-163)
Highwater (Reprints Hellblazer #164-174)

Mike Carey
Red Sepulchre (Reprints Hellblazer #175-180)
Black Flowers (Reprints Hellblazer #181-186)
Staring At The Wall (Reprints Hellblazer #187-193)
Stations Of The Cross (Reprints Hellblazer #194-200)
Reasons To Be Cheerful (Reprints Hellblazer #201-206)
The Gift (Reprints Hellblazer #207-215) - August 2007

Denise Mina
Empathy Is The Enemy (reprint Hellblazer #216-222)
The Red Right Hand (reprint Hellblazer #223-228) - July 2007

Movie Tie-Ins
Rare Cuts (Reprints Hellblazer #11, #25-26, #35, #56, #84)
Constantine - The Hellblazer Collection (Movie Adaptation, reprints Hellblazer #1, #27, #41)

Original Graphic Novel
All His Engines (OGN)

4) Where did John Constantine first appear ?

Technically speaking, Constantine's acknowledged debut occurred in the pages of Swamp Thing #37, Growth Patterns. However, Constantine actually made a brief one panel cameo appearance back in Swamp Thing #25 (next to an unfortunate victim of a stuffed swordfish).

5) How did John Constantine end up with demon's blood in his veins ?

London bound by train, John Constantine finds himself plagued by the ghosts of the Newcastle Crew. Emotionally distraught and physically worn following the recent death of yet another old friend, a disorientated Constantine is overcome with the need for air and leaps from the still moving locomotive!

A heavily bandaged John regains consciousness in the intensive care ward of a hospital and receives an unwanted visitor in the form of the demon Nergal. Unaware of the role the demon played in his downfall at Newcastle, Constantine finds himself press-ganged into the ongoing war between Nergal’s Damnation Army and the Resurrection Crusade.

Anxious to exploit the relationship between John and Zed, the young woman on whom the Resurrection Crusade’s plans for victory rest, the demon threatens to slaughter a maternity ward full of children unless the magus deigns to work with him. Faced with little choice, Constantine reluctantly agrees to twart the Resurrection Crusade’s plans. In order to get John back on his feet, Nergal gives him an infusion of his own demon blood.

Following the events of Critical Mass, John briefly lost the demon blood but regained it after an..er...intimate...encounter with the succubus Ellie.

Constantine's unique blood type has proven to be quite useful in the past, not least when he found himself at the mercy of The King Of The Vampires.

6) Dates of interest

Text taken from the pages of Secret Files : Hellblazer :

  • 1953 : John Constantine is born in Liverpool to Thomas and Mary Anne Constantine on May 10. During the birth, doctors discover a second child strangled in the womb. Mary Anne dies in labor. Thomas holds John responsible.
  • 1977 : After seeing the Sex Pistols at the opening of London's Roxy Club, John forms his own band, Mucous Membrane, along with old school friend Gary Lester. They play their first gig at the Casanova Club in Newcastle.
  • 1978 : Returning to the Casanova Club in Newcastle, John confronts the demon Nergal and inadvertently consignes Astra Logue's soul to hell. Driven half-mad by the experience, John is incarcerated in the 'Ravenscar Secure Facility for the Dangerously Deranged', where he intermittently spends the next two years.
  • 1985 : John meets the Swamp Thing for the first time in Louisiana as the Crisis on Infinite Earths reaches its devastating climax. John's girlfriend, Emma, is killed in New York by the Invunche - a servant of the Brujeria. A war with the Brujeria follows, which results in the deaths of Constatnine's friends Ben Cox, Frank North, Judith and Anne-Marie.


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