Thursday, July 18, 2013


John Constantine /ˈkɒnstəntaɪn/ is a fictional character, an antihero appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Swamp Thing (vol. 2) #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) and Constantine (2013–). The titular 'Hellblazer', Constantine is a working-class magician, occult detective, and con man stationed in London. He is known for his endless cynicism, deadpan snarking, ruthless cunning, and constant chain smoking. A roguish counterculture antihero, Constantine 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 also released in 2005 entitled Constantine, where the character is played by Keanu Reeves. 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 #29 in their Top 100 Comic Book Heroes, and the character ranked #10 in Wizard Magazine's Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time.

Hellblazer (also known as John Constantine, Hellblazer) was a contemporary horror comic book series, originally published by DC Comics, and subsequently by the Vertigo imprint since March 1993, when the imprint was introduced. Its central character was the streetwise magician John Constantine, who was created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and Jamie Delano, and first appeared as a supporting character in The Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 (June 1985), during that creative team's run on that title. Hellblazer had been published continuously since January 1988, and was Vertigo's longest running title, the only remaining publication from the imprint's launch. In 2013, the series concluded with issue 300, and has been replaced by a DC Universe title, Constantine.
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With the 300th and final issue of Vertigo’s Hellblazer, out this week, several tumblers shift and lock into place. John Constantine moves to the New 52 on a full-time basis, with a new title beginning in March; the reset button is pushed on his continuity, and the most writer-driven character of the last thirty years is yanked from the comfort and promise of a Mature Readers label and forced to grow up again in a PG-13 world; and the longest-running title in the Vertigo line concludes a twenty year run, as the imprint focuses exclusively on creator-owned comics. It’s a sad time for misfits everywhere, as Hellblazer is one of a handful of comics from the late eighties that helped comic books and their readers grow up.The impact of the British Invasion can’t be overemphasized. Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, and others completely changed the way people thought about comics. They introduced readers to sharper prose styles, darker perspectives, and more sophisticated sensibilities, and defined the shape of mainstream American comics throughout the eighties, nineties, and well into the 2000s. You can’t overemphasize an influence that’s still being measured. But that effect may have not even been possible if those writers weren’t allowed to work with the freedom of a Mature Readers label.

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