With the release of the new Constantine series tomorrow, this the perfect opportunity to look back at how it all started. Introduced in “The Saga of The Swamp Thing” #39, Alan Moore presented readers with John Constantine, the foul-mouthed, chain-smoking British occult detective. Since then, Constantine has had a long journey dealing with the dark arts, magic, and sorcery. With the concluding issue of “Hellblazer”, Johnny boy is about to enter a new chapter in his life in the DC Universe. So, who will the infamous Constantine be this time around?
When I picked up “Dangerous Habits,” I knew I was reading something different. Here was this guy who sort of looked like Sting and wore an ugly trench coat. Diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, Constantine will do anything to prevent his inevitable death. Constantine isn’t looking for redemption, but rather, he’s searching for an escape. With a trick up his sleeve, he cons his way out of death by tricking the Lords of Hell.
This is what I really liked about Constantine’s character. After everything is said and done, he is really looking out for himself. Constantine happens to be a charismatic ladies’ man and an emotional wreck at the same time. Anyone who comes close to him, suffers an untimely end. Constantine has very few friends and yet, he still treats them like dirt. Constantine doesn’t know how to drive; so he has someone do it for him.
In “Hard Time, “Constantine finds himself incarcerated in an American prison. Gritty and unforgiving, Constantine is surrounded by hardened serial killers and rapists; the kind that deserve to be locked up. Trapped inside with him, Constantine eventually starts a prison riot to get back at his inmates. The prison becomes a hell-hole as Constantine calmly walks out and sets off on a vacation-like tour around America.
This is what worries me about Constantine moving into the DC Universe lineup. Is Constantine going to lose his edge in order to appeal to a broader audeince? Is the Justice League Dark going to jump into prison to get him out of there? Constantine belongs to the seedy underbelly; often engaging others in strip clubs and dug labs. It feels out of place seeing Constantine with the likes of Batman and Superman. It originally sounded weird to me hearing that Constantine would be joining the Justice League Dark. Don’t Constantine’s teammates realize that anyone close to him dies?
But, that’s what I like about writers Jeff Lemire, Peter Milligan, and Ray Fawkes. Lemire and Milligan were taking chances, though risky chances, but there was a payoff in the end. I really want to think Constantine will fit in the DCU. I don’t want to see him become a crime-fighting vigilante. I thought the best use of Constantine in the DCU was when he showed up in “I, Vampire.” Constantine used his magic to create fake solar power to torment a vampire. Constantine didn’t want to get involved; he just wanted to get back at the vamp who pushed him. The best part, Constantine and Andrew hated each other at the end.
There’s an opportunity here and I hope the writers don’t miss it. Swamp Thing is one of the few associates Constantine has. I would like to see “Constantine” crossover with “Swamp Thing”. I hope in the near futurem these two meet again for another insane adventure.
Hopefully, “Constantine #1” will be accessible to new readers, while not drawing away the longtime fans. If the personality is still there, Constantine will never be at a loss at what to do. When the end of the word is happening, I still want the chain-smoking cynic to care only about himself.
Editorial by – Jorge Solis