It is with a heavy heart that I must share the following statement from DC Comics publisher Dan Didio:
We’re supremely proud of Vertigo’s HELLBLAZER, one of the most critically-acclaimed series we’ve published. Issue #300 concludes this chapter of Constantine’s epic, smoke-filled story in style and with the energy, talent and creativity fans have come to expect from Peter Milligan, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini. And no one should worry that John is going to hang-up his trenchcoat – he lives on in March, in the pages of the all-new DC Comics New 52 ongoing series, CONSTANTINE, by writer Robert Venditti and artist Renato Guedes.
Or, to translate from Corporate-Speak to Plain English…
DC Comics is no longer in the business of publishing critically-acclaimed material for real grown-ups, and we feel that the character of John Constantine will make us a lot more money if we dumb his adventures down. So, in the fine tradition of BEFORE WATCHMEN, join us as we piss all over our own fictional integrity in our new funnybook series named after that execrable movie with Keanu Reaves.
Actually, I think I may have used my “Harsh” translator on that. But still. I think the intent is clear:
Okay, okay… That’s not really a preview of “New 52 Hellblazer.” It’s actually from issue 53 of Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, a parody issue featuring characters published under the Vertigo imprint as Lee/Kirby creations. To be honest, I doubt they’ll do anything this imaginative with Our Man Constantine as they move his series under the umbrella of the DC Reboot. His depiction in the Justice League Dark series is more likely the direction they’ll go in. Which is to say a shallow, surface-only take on the character that’s eternally young, uses fewer curse words, shoots sparkly magic shit out of his hands, and is less an actual bastard than he is a con man with a heart of gold.
Thank you, no.
The original mature-readers Hellblazer would be celebrating a quarter-century on the stands next year, were it not for this reboot, and I’ve been there from day one. Some runs were better than others, certainly, and I haven’t read every issue. But even the during its worst periods, I could pick up a Hellblazer comic and trust that I wasn’t going to have my intelligence insulted. That’s not been the case with the character’s JLD appearances, and with the demise of the Vertigo version of the series, I will miss that… surety… in my funnybook reading life.
Of course, the reboot series hasn’t hit the stands yet, so I shouldn’t judge. Maybe it’ll be good. But considering Mainstream DC’s 21st-Century track record with the character thus far, I’m going to have to hear solid gold reviews from sources I trust before I go within 20 feet of it.
Many thanks (I guess) to Bleeding Cool for breaking the news to me, and for providing me with that Didio quote at the top. Rich Johnston’s posted a finer pictorial tribute to Hellblazer-As-We’ve-Known-It than I ever could, replete with its most insane excesses and its most interesting themes. Go check it out.
But I’ll leave you with what I consider to be one of the most defining Hellblazer images. It’s Dave McKean’s cover to issue 3, featuring a particularly nasty/seedy Constantine and his most natural early nemesis: the Demon Margaret Thatcher.