John Constantine (pron.: /ˈkɒnstəntaɪn/) is an antihero/occult detective 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 served as the protagonist of the comic book Hellblazer, first published in 1988 and concluded in 2013, where it will be replaced with Constantine under the standard DC imprint.
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 was the visual inspiration for John Constantine. 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 and most successful Vertigo title, and was the only remaining publication since the imprints launch. Empire Magazine ranked him third in their 50 Greatest Comic Characters of All Time, IGN ranked him #29 in their Top 100 Comic Book Heroes, while the character ranked #10 in Wizard Magazines Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time.
John Constantine first appeared in 1985 as a recurring character in the horror series The Saga of the Swamp Thing, in which he acted as a "supernatural advisor" to the main character.
In these early appearances, Constantine was depicted as a sorcerer of questionable morality, whose appearance was based on that of the musician Sting (specifically, as Sting appeared in the movies Brimstone and Treacle and Quadrophenia). Alan Moore created the character after artists Stephen R. Bissette and John Totleben, who were fans of The Police, expressed a desire to draw a character who looked like Sting. They had already drawn at least one such character in Stings likeness, as a briefly glimpsed background figure wearing a black-and-red-striped t-shirt, in Swamp Thing #25 (1984). In his earliest Swamp Thing appearances, the character is drawn with a marked resemblance to Sting, and in Swamp Thing #51, Constantine appears on a boat with the name "The Honorable Gordon Sumner" on the bow.
John Constantines official debut was not until Swamp Thing #37 when he was drawn by Rick Veitch and John Totleben. Moore describes the creation of Constantine as being drawn from a number of "really good ideas... about serial killers, the Winchester House, and... want[ing] to draw Sting in a story." Calling these disparate strands a "big intellectual puzzle", Constantine was the result of "fit[ting] it all together." Initially created "purely to get Sting into the story", by the time of the 1985 San Diego ComicCon, Moore stated that "[i]ts turning into something more than that now." Veitchs contribution was to give Constantine an earring, something he considered risque for 1985.
Asked in 1985 about the similarities between John Constantine and the character Baron Winters (from Marv Wolfman and Gene Colans Night Force), Moore revealed that he was a "big fan" of Wolfman and Night Force, but that there was "no intention to rip off Baron Winters." He stated
Constantine and Winters met each other during Moores run on Swamp Thing and again during Gaimans The Books of Magic.
In 1988, Constantine was given his own title, Hellblazer, published by DC Comics. In 1993, at the launch of DCs Vertigo Comics imprint, Hellblazer was made an official Vertigo publication. It was the longest continuously published Vertigo title. The policy was reversed in 2011, when a version of Constantine appeared in the DC Universe crossover series Brightest Day, a spin-off series, Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing. Peter Milligan added him in the roster of The New 52 series Justice League Dark. Milligan began writing Justice League Dark while also writing the Vertigos Hellblazer series, being a writer of both series at the same time. In an interview, Milligan told Newsarama,
Beginning in Justice League Dark issue #9, Jeff Lemire assumed writing duties on the series, replacing Milligan who had returned on the Vertigo title. Speaking with CBR News exclusively, Lemire said he considers Justice League Dark his dream gig at DC Comics because Constantine is one of his all-time favorite characters not just in comics, but in all fiction. Lemire also teased that while Constantine, Zatanna and Deadman would remain on the roster, the team would change in his opening arc and expand.
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