Hey there friends!
TEX is back again! What do I have for my fellow Questers this week? We're continuing our journey with Justice League Dark with one of the DARKEST anti-heroes ever created...
JOHN CONSTANTINE!! So, where did the right bastard we know and love have his beginning? Right here:
These are my two lovely copies of "The Saga of the Swamp Thing" #37 published by DC Comics in 1985 (direct copy and newsstand copy!!). Here, we have the first appearance of John Constantine. John Constantine was created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben - three master comics creators who came together and dreamt up one of the most enduring, engrossing and interesting anti-heroes in comics history.
John Constantine is a troubled, wise-cracking, occult detective. He is highly adept at magic, and he is daring and cunning enough to confound high-level supernatural beings. Constantine is a descendant of the Laughing Magicians, men who were gifted, powerful and amazingly clever magicians who often used their powers to trick and make fools of higher beings. It seemed that from birth Constantine was doomed to a terrible fate, having strangled his own brother with his umbilical cord in his mother's womb. John's upbringing was turbulent, to say the least: his father was a violent alcoholic, a hateful man whom John eventually consigned to terrible suffering with a horrible curse...But John Constantine hadn't learned his lesson about toying with the occult. Not by a long shot.
Eventually, after traveling about for a while, Constantine found himself in Newcastle trying to stop a demon conjured by a terribly abused child, Astra Logue. He and several of his occultist friends summoned their own demon to stop the other - unfortunately, since they had not summoned their demon by its true name, Nergal, they had absolutely no power to stop it from following its own agenda - an agenda which included tormenting Constantine's friends, the Newcastle Crew, and dragging young Astra screaming to Hell.
Later, John Constantine would appear to Swamp Thing in the swamps of Lousiana to teach him various truths about what he truly was (a Plant Elemental connected to all plants of Earth by a force called The Green), introduce him to the Parliament of Trees, and to send him on various missions in which he met with and overcame various dark forces. In time, Constantine and Swamp Thing would team with other occult heroes (John Zatara, Zatanna, Dr. Occult, Mento, Baron Winters, and Sargon The Sorcerer) to stop the universal threat of The Great Darkness.
John Constantine's power and cunning would grow - and he would need all of it, as over the years he has faced threats horrific enough to drive any man insane. From human serial killers to demons, to cults, to psychics, to angels, to Satan himself (The First of The Fallen), Constantine has taken them all on and won...With a great many casualties. On to the FUN FACTS!!
FUN FACT 1 - John Constantine's appearance was based on that of Sting. Totleben and Bissette were fans of his group, The Police, and Sting lived in Newcastle.
FUN FACT 2 - Most of Constantine's friends end up dead, that is why he is haunted by their silent ghosts who accuse him with their expressions. John often avoids the repercussions of what he does - he friends aren't so lucky. Only Chas has escaped...So far.
FUN FACT 3: John Constantine is the epitome of punk rock. He is a wizard that, when he was conceived, was unlike the magic practitioners before him, and he didn't care to be. He did things his way, with a reckless, devil-may-care, morally ambiguous swagger that mirrored the attitudes that the punk rockers of the day exuded. Constantine loves The Sex Pistols, and even once headed a punk band called Mucous Membrane with his friend, Gary Lester. While I believe that older readers and comics enthusiasts (40s and up) really understand how Constantine's punk roots resonated with readers of the 80s, readers who themselves remember those times and bands which changed the music scene, and our minds, forever, I often wonder if newer readers really get this. It's almost like Constantine, like Captain America, is a man out of time now.
FUN FACT 4: Constantine had a long-running title published under DC's Vertigo imprint named "Hellblazer." If you haven't read it, please do (I still have issue #1 around here somewhere). I am not a stickler for reading every issue of any series, but Hellblazer is one of the few exceptions (along with "Resurrection Man" (vol 1), "Preacher," "The Question" (vol 1), "Sandman" (Vertigo), "Secret Origins" (vol 2), "Miracleman" (vol 1), "Saga of the Swamp Thing" and "Swamp Thing" (vol 2), "Secret Warriors," and "Avengers" (vol 5), and "Ultimate Spider-Man" (vol 1)).
FUN FACT 5: Constantine isn't afraid of demons...but needles terrify him.
FUN FACT 6: Keanu Reeves played Constantine in 2005's live-action film, "Constantine."
The film was a financial success but got mixed reviews. I really enjoyed the film as a fun supernatural mystery, but not as an actual Constantine film. Reeves did a great job and the story was stellar; however, Reeves just wasn't able to channel Constantine's spirit, and he surely didn't fit the physical look. And a Constantine that isn't a Brit (or someone that can at least play one well)? No, thank you.
FUN FACT 7: In 2014, DC hit gold when it scored Matt Ryan to bring Constantine to the small screen:
Much more in line with "Hellblazer," this TV show was, to put it simply, THE BEES KNEES!! It was an amazing show...Sadly, it only lasted one season before the chickens at NBC pulled it from the air. Ryan has since appeared as Constantine on "Arrow," and as the voice of Constantine on the new animated film "Justice League Dark." If you haven't seen this series, buy the DVD or blu ray. You will not be sorry.
FUN FACT 8: Old "Hellblazer" comics can be read here: Hellblazer. You're welcome.
FUN FACT 9: Constantine smokes Silk Cut cigarettes...They eventually caused his lung cancer - a death which he avoided by tricking the three rulers of Hell into thinking that each would possess his soul after death. When they all appeared to collect, they realized there was nothing to be done, unless they called down the wrath of heaven by starting a war between themselves and their factions. Pretty sneaky.
FUN FACT 10: Constantine's blood is demonically tainted. He received a blood transfusion from a demon once...And...Umm...He boinked a succubus. This makes him taste horrible to vampires, and his blood has healing properties.
FUN FACT 11: Although Constantine doesn't look like much, he is a master tactician, and con-man. He possesses a vast knowledge of the occult and has been shown to possess many magic-based skills from summoning (of entities), to pyromancy, to necromancy, to divination, to spirit warding, to dimensional travel, to exorcism, and much more. Constantine is like the undefeatable Batman of magic.
FUN FACT 12: In 2013, DC published "Constantine" (vol 1). I'll just be nice here - it sure wasn't "Hellblazer." Not even close.
FUN FACT: 13: It looks like a live-action Justice League Dark film is moving forward without Guillermo del Toro: "Warner Bros. Wants Dark Universe to be 'Unconventional'"
FUN FACT 14: Swamp Thing once used Constantine's body to impregnate his human wife, Abigail. The result is a human Earth Elemental, Tefé Holland. True story.
FUN FACT 15: Alan Moore brilliantly used John Constantine as the catalyst to bring DC's forgotten occult heroes back into the limelight.
FUN FACT 16: Alan Moore, Constantine's co-creator, is also a practitioner of magic. And a self-proclaimed anarchist. Yep.
Well, I am spent. That's all for today! Enjoy your weekend and happy trails!!
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