Some questions about the John Constantine/Hellraiser comics

Lady Joanna Constantine (1759-1859) is a recurring character in Gaiman’s SANDMAN books. Is she supposed to be a relative of John Constantine and, if so, does she occur in any of the Hellblazer comics (I’ve never read Hellblazer and only know of John C. what I saw in the movie).

How close is the movie to the comic series? If I liked Gaiman will I probably like the series? Does Gabriel appear in the series after s/he becomes mortal?

BTW, if you’ve seen the movie but haven’t read the series, feel free to add your own questions without feeling like a hijacker.

John Constantine’s Geneology. Very short answers: Yes, she is. No, she doesn’t. I’m convinced sight unseen it’s a horrid piece of shite that will waste irretrievable minutes of my life. People… it’s fucking Keanu. It’s as wrong as Fabio playing Napoleon Bonaparte.

Well, the movie is getting mixed reviews, and a bunch of skeptics right here on the SDMB are admitting it isn’t that bad. I’m sure most comic readers would have preferred a straight adaptation with a better actor playing JC, but Constantine: The Movie doesn’t seem to be anywhere neat the cinematic train wreck that Catwoman or Batman and Robin were. I’m going to see it next weekend with an open mind.

As for the comics, hopefully Selkie will be along soon with some recommendations, since she’s the biggest Hellblazer fan I know. But I rather liked the Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis stuff, and hated Brian Azzarello’s run on the title.

Having never read the comics, my view of the movie suffered from no preconceived notions - except those negative associations with Keanu. But I must say it was better than I expected. The action is reasonable, the CGI is fairly well done and the acting is mostly good. Keanu didn’t sound like a surfer dude, so it’s not as bad as you’d fear. It’s no Lord of the Rings; but worth a matinee.

Either Keanu’s acting has gotten better over the years or, like Rex Harrison’s singing, screenwriters have learned to write to his strengths. The movie wasn’t “oh my god outstanding it’ll sweep the Oscars”, but it kept my attention and I can’t think of any moments in which Keanu was outright embarassing. And gay as I am I would still be willing to watch a film of Tilda Swinton folding her laundry- twixt this and Orlando especially she plays to my more androgynous fantasies.

I also hated Azzarello’s run. He thought he was much cooler than he was. The absolute nadir of his run was when John found himself in a small town that had a mysterious secret, and it finally turned out to be that the townsfolk were supporting themselves by means of a GASP! Porn website!

Which was all kinds of ridiculous and not the least bit horrific.

Sampiro, I’m sure you already noticed you screwed up the thread title. Constantine’s comic originally was going to be called “Hellraiser,” but Clive Barker beat them to the punch.

Yes, she is a relative X times removed. She appeared in a four issue miniseries (titled “Lady Constantine”) written by Andy Diggle a couple of years back that was quite good. It has not been reprinted in a TPB so you’d have to go to eBay or seach back issue bins to find it. I keep having this vague feeling she’s popped up in Hellblazer somewhere along the way but I’m drawing a blank as to when or where she would have. Her role (assuming I’m not crossing wires in my brain somewhere) would have been quite small.

Not very. I like the comic much better, on the whole, and as you can see in my review over on the Constantine thread I wasn’t wholly opposed to the film. The comic’s certainly had it’s rough patches (Brian Azzarello, I’m looking at you), but there’s some really outstanding stuff to be had.

There’s a good chance, depending on which writer you pick. Keep in mind Hellblazer is Vertigo’s longest continous on-going title, and there’ve been quite a few hands on it over the years. The TPB policy on this title is notorious throughout the comics community for being perhaps the most nonsensical in the entire industry, and not all of the best stuff has been traded. Some of the worst stuff (Brian Azzarello, I’m still looking at you) has. With that in mind, here are my recommendations on where to start.

There’s a new hardcover written by Mike Carey of Lucifer fame, titled Constantine: All His Engines which I highly recommend for newcomers. It’s almost completely self-contained, and draws elements from some of the highlights of the entire series. It will probably come out in softcover in six to eight months, so if the high cover price puts you off, hold tight.

Next up would be Dangerous Habits, by Garth Ennis. Many of the movie elements that were drawn from the comics came from this TPB. It’s also sufficently self-contained that a newcomer can pick it up, read it, and not feel lost, despite that fact that it reprints from, I believe, issues 41 - 46.

Original Sins is probably still my single favorite TPB of the series. Unfortunately, bad relations between Vertigo and author Jamie Delano caused major issues with the TPB reprints. The story arc is really 12 issues long. This TPB reprints the first 9. Then issue #12 is reprinted in Rare Cuts, a volume dedicated to some of the best early non-reprinted issues (which, by the time you’ve gotten this far, is worth the purchase). Issues 10 and 11 have not been reprinted, and will take either some wallet digging or intensive searching to find. (I got mine cheaply, but really had to hunt for them).

More in a minute - the hamsters are getting cranky and I don’t want them to eat this post.

Neil Gaiman’s classic single issue story, “Hold Me,” is reprinted in Hellblazer: The Hellblazer Collection. Unfortunately, the other two issues in this rather pricey for its content book have already been reprinted in Original Sins and Dangerous Habits. The Gaiman issue is notoriously expensive on its own, so I guess the book’s not the worst deal around if you feel you’ve just got to have it and aren’t willing to shop for it.

Other particularly noteworthy TPBs:

Warren Ellis’ far too brief but very solid run is completely reprinted in two TPBs, Haunted (a complete arc) and Setting Sun (a collection of shorter stories).

Garth Ennis, Rake at the Gates of Hell is one of my personal favorite Garth Ennis stories, and makes a nice bookend to Dangerous Habits.

His TPBs of Tainted Love and Fear and Loathing aren’t bad (and, IIRC, contain post-angelic Gabriel). I personally loathed Son of Man, but many people find it hilarious. Didn’t think much of Damnation’s Flame, either, but many Hellblazer fans love it.

Oh! One more thing. If you want to see the very first appearance of John Constantine, pre-Sandman and pre-Hellblazer, start with Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing: The Curse, which is an outstanding, classic work in its own right.

You ain’t kiddin. I just picked up Rare Cuts * yesterday; was so pleased to finally find out what the fck exactly happened in Newcastle in 1978. I just wish they’d included JC’s showdown with Nergal, which must have followed shortly after issue 12.

I may just shell out for *All His Engines * in hardcover- Mike Carey is a writer I will be seriously bummed to see hang up his Hellblazer pen. As for Azzarello- I had no idea he was so unpopular around here! Personally, I enjoyed *Freezes Over * (was my intro to Constantine, actually) and thought *Good Intentions * was solid. Sorry, Fiver, Lou. :slight_smile: But Azzarello did lose me later on with that white supremacist jazz.

The only thing I’ve ever liked from Azzarello was that issue of Spider-Man’s Tangled Web he co-wrote with pro wrestler Scott “Raven” Levy. Other than that, 100 Bullets left me cold, and I hated his Hellblazer stories (I only read the end of the prison arc and the majority of the small town/porn story). But hey, different strokes and all that. I still don’t even know what happened in Newcastle in 1978! :slight_smile:

Moody Bastard, if you’re ever looking for synopses of Hellblazer issues, I recommend Straight to Hell. Click on the link for “Monthly Title.”

I was into Hellblazer back in high school (I have the first 13 issues) and loved it. Is this comic still being produced? If so, what issue are we up to now?

I just watched the movie tonight and I thought it was a bit, well, confused.

I’m reading through the thread on the movie to try and answer some of my questions.

If I were to revisit the comic today what issues would anyone reccomend I start with? The “Dangerous Habits” one seems interesting but are there any others that stand out?

If I’m not mistaken, Hellblazer’s packed up for good recently. I stopped reading it during the Azzarello run.

I was intrigued to see that Newcastle was included in the Rare Cuts reprint, but I’d built up such a horrifying image of it in my mind that I had expectations that were too high.

IMHO, some good Hellblazer collections: Haunted, Dangerous Habits, Fear and Loathing, Original Sins

Some bad Hellblazer collections: Son of Man, Good Intentions

YMMV, of course.

On the whole, I’ve enjoyed it, but it’s not consistently well-written; that’s hard to do on a book with such a long run and so many writers.

The original Swamp Thing bits with Constantine were great, and so was the issue in Sandman he appeared in. Gaiman also put him in his Books of Magic miniseries. You could check those out.

Did you happen to read the Grant Morrison two-fer in Rare Cuts? Da-amn!

Thanks for the link, **Selkie. ** What’s happenin, Lou.

As usual when a person bases an opinion on a film on something other than seeing the film, you’re dead wrong.

I have to say I’m pretty tired of this attitude. Constantine is a good movie that’s about 15 times smarter than most action thrillers and actually tries to make a story about subjects that many people think are off the table for fiction. But the comics crowd which should be providing a seed audience for this stuff (which, FYI, leads to money in the pockets of the comics companies, which leads to better comics) throws a fit because the character’s hair is the wrong color. Instead, the comics community would apparently rather watch a two hour fanwank over Jack Kirby’s corpse where every single detail was etched exactly faithfully except the soul. Who cares if “Constantine” isn’t “Hellblazer”? Alan Moore doesn’t care. Jaime Delano doesn’t care. John Constantine sure doesn’t care – he’s fictional. No one cares except Larry Goznick and the rest of the catpiss men. This movie doesn’t ruin the comics; the comics are still there. (Indeed, if the movie continues to be successful, it might even make the comics more readily avilable.) But it’s good in its own right.


You’re mistaken. Hellblazer is still coming out monthly and is currenlty written by Mike Carey (Lucifer, Spellbinders, Thirteen).


I was very skeptical of the movie going in, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I’ll buy the DVD. I’ve read several of the *Hellblazer * TPBs and loved a lot of Ennis’ stuff and freaking despised the two Azzarello arcs I read (the prison arc and the small town arc). I think other skeptics should give the movie a try.

Cliffy. I’s fucking Keanu!



Y’now… I coulda sworn that said “It’s fucking Keanu!” on preview.

It’s not that witty to poke fun at an obvious typo… but SOMEONE’S gonna come along and try…

Good to hear. Especially with such talent on it.

I’d heard that they were going to end it at issue 200 somewhere.