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"Name's John Constantine. I'm not the nicest bloke you've met."
|Known relatives:||Mary Anne (mother, deceased); Thomas Constantine (father, deceased); Cheryl Masters (sister); Stillborn twin brother (deceased)|
|1st appearance:||Saga of the Swamp Thing #37|
John Constantine is a comic book character created by British writer Alan Moore and artist Steve Bissette. He deputed in the pages of Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 where he became a supporting character of that title. Constantine was presented as a smarmy, chain-smoking occultist, mage and con man with a cynical outlook on life and a bad attitude. Although Constantine has no true mystical powers, he usually gets by on knowledge, wits and creativity. Constantine proved to be a very popular character and was given his own title Hellblazer in 1988. The Hellblazer comic series became one of DC's flagship titles when it introduced its "Vertigo" imprint in the early 1990s. Vertigo specialized in "sophisticated suspense" and while many of its titles shared continuity with that of the mainstream DC Comics universe, many titles were also set outside the canonical reality. Hellblazer has the distinction of being the longest running Vertigo title in print. The 2005 film Constantine is loosely based on the character of John Constantine and borrows several elements from the comic series.
John Constantine is an English occultist and hedge mage who was born in Liverpool, London, England on May 10th, 1953. His parents were Thomas and Mary Anne Constantine, and he had an older sister named Cheryl. Due to a previous abortion, Mary Anne suffered from a weakened womb, and because of this, John's twin brother was stillborn. It could be argued that John was inadvertently responsible for his twin's death as he had strangled him in the womb with his own umbilical cord. Mary Anne died while giving birth to John and his father always blamed him for his wife's death.
John grew up during the 1960s and 70s where he slowly developed an appreciation for music, stage magic and the occult. In 1969, he met a man named Francis "Chas" Chandler. The two became close friends and Chas would later play a pivotal role in John's life. In the late 1970s, John attended a Sex Pistols concert at the Roxy night club and decided to become a musician. He formed a band with his pal Gary Lester which he named Mucous Membrane. Mucous Membrane did not have a particularly strong following, but they did manage to produce one hit single, "Venus of the Hard Sell".
In 1978, John Constantine gathered together several amateur occultists to form what would become informally known as the Newcastle Crew. They learned of a purported demonic possession taking place at the Casanova Club in the borough of Newcastle and sought to lend their services.
The owner of the club, Alex Logue revealed that his daughter Astra had been found thrashing about in the lower dungeons of the club. The occultists quickly determined that a powerful fear elemental had taken possession of her, and they committed themselves towards performing the rites of exorcism. The elemental's presence proved too strong however, and desperate measures were required. John Constantine determined that the only way to free Astra's soul was with a more powerful demon. The crew pooled their resources and invoked the spirit of a demon known as Nergal. However, John mis-spoke the words to the incantation, and Nergal was no longer under his control. He ravaged Astra's soul, consigning it to Hell.
Nearly all of the members of the Newcastle Crew escaped from the club, but all of them suffered tremendous trauma for their experiences. Constantine himself was admitted to the Ravenscar mental hospital for over two years. 
John's time at Ravenscar was not a pleasant experience. He was routinely abused by the guards and became the favored subject of an arrogant psychiatrist named Roger Huntoon.
The Swamp Thing Edit
In 1985, Constantine learned that something large was set to occur in the world of the supernatural and set about learning all he could about it. His search proved frustrating as he moved among his contacts. No one had a great deal of information for him, but to say that "He's coming back". One source though that "he" was a living black hole. Another believed that it was the old one, Cthulhu. An old nun even believed it to be Satan. John's investigation into this "Great Darkness" brought him to the swamps of Louisiana, where he met a plant elemental known as Alec Holland, aka, the Swamp Thing. John also met Holland's common law wife, Abigail. As it turned out, John knew more about the Swamp Thing's nature than even the elemental himself. He chided the Swamp Thing for his ignorance and informed him of his elemental heritage. He told him that he had the ability to expand his essence through any vegetative matter – with the ability to instantly teleport nearly any place he chooses to on Earth. 
In 1988, John discovered that his longtime friend and drug addict Gary Lester had fallen prey to a hunger demon known as Mnemoth. John and Gary tracked Mnemoth's activities back to New York where he was forced to rely upon the aid of a Voodoo houngan named Papa Midnite to help them capture it. John and Papa Midnite brought Gary Lester to the roof of the Midnight Club where they strapped him down to an old electric chair that Midnite acquired from Sing Sing prison. Using Gary's drug withdrawal as a beacon, they lured Mnemoth to the top of the penthouse. Midnite conducted a series of rituals as the spirit bonded with Gary Lester, feeding off of his pain. John jumped on top of him and carved the Power Patterns of Binding into his face. Mnemoth was trapped in his body, but Gary died from the experience soon after. His body was brought down into the cellar of his club where he was sealed behind a brick wall. 
Movie Version Edit
In 2005, John Constantine was the titular hero of the film Constantine starring Keanu Reeves. Reeves' version of the character was a dramatic departure from the original, who was an American with dark hair operating out of California. The film loosely adapts elements from the "Dangerous Habits" storyline written by Garth Ennis.
Notes & Trivia Edit
- John Constantine was created by writer Alan Moore and artist Steve Bissette. Moore based John's appearance on British rocker Sting.
- Constantine's name (in the comics) is actually pronounced Kon-stin-tyne.
- Although the passage of time in comic books is greatly condensed from that of the real world, the events from the Hellblazer comic book series usually takes place in "real time".
- John's favorite brand of cigarettes are Silk Cut.
I'm the one who steps from the shadows, all trenchcoat and cigarette and arrogance, ready to deal with the madness. Oh, I've got it all sewn up. I can save you. If it takes the last drop of your blood, I'll drive your demons away. I'll kick them in the bollocks and spit on them when they're down and then I'll be gone back into darkness, leaving only a nod and a wink and a wisecrack. I walk my path alone... who would walk with me?
Look, the Sandman's a fairy story you tell kids to get them off to sleep. Sprinkles magic dust in your eyes and brings you... sweet dreams. I'm trying to save the world, Mad Hettie, and you want to tell me fairy stories!
My heart twitches like a dying beast crawled into the rank burrow of my chest to breathe its last. I'm cold, chilled to the marrow. I daren't even shut my eyes for fear of sleep and dreams.
C'mon then, you maggoty piece of Hell meat! Eat me! I'll bloody choke you!
This is where we started it and this is where it'll finish. This is the killing ground where I take my revenge -- just as soon as I work out exactly how.
Les, did I do something awful today? Y'know, like push a cripple down a flight of stairs 'er poison some poor dog?
A clock that can forecast the future. What a load a bollocks. I mean, no matter what you do, it's the same for everyone. Ya get a dreary job, ya fall in love, ya have some kids, ya fall out a love, ya lose ya hair, ya get soft... it's fucking depressing, so I'll have none of it!
Guilt is the province of the living.
When it comes to arrogant parasites, I've got a short fuse. So look out, suckers, here comes the revolution!
Disaster's snapping at my heels and it's time that I was somewhere far away. It's all up to me again, ennit? Somehow, I've got to stay ahead and get some news aces up my sleeve. But right now, all I really need's a smoke.
My name's John Constantine, and I think we could do each other a favor. Mind if I smoke?
Name's John Constantine. I'm not the nicest bloke you've met.
I'm a nasty piece of work, Chief. Ask anybody.
Recommended Reading Edit
- Hellblazer: Bad Blood
- Hellblazer: Lady Constantine
- Hellblazer: Papa Midnite
- Hellblazer Special: Chas
See also Edit
External Links Edit