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Comic Book: Hellblazer

There's been a lot said about John Constantine, all right, and everyone who's known him has their own pet theory.
Really, though, he's just a man.
Perhaps one day, if we let him, he can be a hero.

A long-running Vertigo Comics horror title that spun off from Swamp Thing in 1988, Hellblazer followed Con Man, Occult Detective, gambler and magician of ill repute, John Constantine (rhymes with "turpentine"), as he tangled with Hell, Heaven, the police and the criminal underworld. The comic typically combined horror and fantasy elements (demons, ghosts, vampires. etc.) with a gritty 'real world' setting and an occasional dash of political and social commentary. The majority of the series was set in modern urban Britain, particularly London. Virtually every British comic writer of repute has written for Constantine, such as Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman, Brian Azzarello, Denise Mina, Paul Jenkins, Andy Diggle, Ian Rankin and Peter Milligan among others.

Hellblazer was notable for subverting Comic Book Time, with John steadily growing older along with the rest of us. An ancestress of his, Johanna Constantine, appeared in some issues of The Sandman and was fairly badass.

John Constantine is a creation of Alan Moore and Steve Bissette, first appearing in Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 (June, 1985). The character started out firmly entrenched in The DCU — his first appearance was in a crossover with Crisis on Infinite Earths, even! — but gradually drifted off into his own self-contained universe. (Although the likes of Zatanna and The Phantom Stranger still popped in from time to time, as has Morpheus.)

Constantine himself is generally portrayed as an adrenaline junkie who's constantly getting involved with the supernatural because everything else bores him to tears. Although he is a Badass Long Coat Anti-Hero, he's portrayed as being a poor fighter (unless he's fighting dirty or gets the first punch in) and generally eschews guns. Instead, he uses his brains to outwit, trick and manipulate his enemies. Well, brains, magic (mind-reading and gambling a specialty!), bullshit and not infrequently the power of his own reputation. His reputation gave him the title of being the World's Greatest Con Man.

One of his most persistent traits is his habit of manipulating his friends into fighting for him or getting them involved in his schemes. However, this usually winds up in them getting killed. Indeed, the series became notorious at one point for introducing a new "old friend" of Constantine's, then killing them off, every few issues. Despite this, the comic is very good about killing men and women equally, and so far, only one of Constantine's lovers has been Stuffed into the Fridge (plus another in its parent comic Swamp Thing).

Despite this, Constantine is generally a sympathetic character who refuses to absolve himself of his guilt- except for the time that he turned it into a demon baby and threw it off a cliff- and generally does the right thing, even if he does it in a particularly nasty way. He is a strident humanist and sort-of anarchist who fights for humanity's right to make its own decisions free of the control of Heaven, Hell, politicians or other forces of control. The fact that he does this by manipulating people is an irony that has not been lost on several writers.

It is a major theme in the comic that Constantine never has any unequivocal permanent victories — enemies will always return, revenge will be sought and friends will be lost. Ultimately, Failure Is the Only Option.

There is a 2005 film adaption, starring Keanu Reeves as a Catholic, Californian, raven-haired, gun-wielding exorcist version of Constantine.

A cute (!) version of John appears with other Vert-goMites in the Batmite story Mitefall.

Alan Moore also claims to have met him. Twice. In Real Life. And he's not the only one - Jamie Delano once saw John sitting outside the British Museum.

The end of Brightest Day saw him returning to the main DCU. In the New 52 reboot, a younger John works as a member of Justice League Dark, a magic-themed JL. The original remained in Vertigo until the comic was cancelled with its 300th issue in 2013, to be replaced by a DC solo title called simply Constantine. Hellblazer was at the time the longest-running monthly DC Comics comic never to be rebooted or cancelled.

A TV series of the character is set to debut on NBC in the fall of 2014, with Matt Ryan (the voice of Edward Kenway) in the title role.

This comic gives examples of:

  • Abraham Lincoln: Who is a villain.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: John and Ellie crafted the Twin Blade which was made out of the remains of two omnipotent Lords of Hell, and uses it to destroy Satan aka The First of the Fallen. John would later uses the blade from time to time to kill demons and even himself. Its so sharp, it kills only by touching.
  • Abusive Parents: John's father Thomas is a complete jerk to John. Don't blame him as the guy has been through a lot like prison and losing an arm. After dying and sent to Hell, he still carries a grudge against his son, but confesses he does have fatherly love to John. He even visited John's wedding as a ghost and witnesses it.
    • Its not only John who Thomas has gotten troubled. He got his wife and other infant kill with a botched abortion attempt involving a cloth hanger inserted from his wife's vagina and into the womb, peeking in his daughter Cheryl's room while she dresses, and throwing away his grandson against Cheryl's wishes. And he never gave shit to these things even in Hell.
  • Action Survivor: Constantine is sometimes drawn into situations that he had no part in or was even looking for. Without time to prepare or investigate he often is the only one to survive these cases. Ironically, he shares many of the listed traits of an action survivor.
  • Adult Fear: John and his sister Cheryl are always looking out for her daughter, Gemma. One story in particular has her being kidnapped by a psychotic religious fanatic who plans to sacrifice her. Off course, John came to the rescue.
    • But Gemma herself is an Annoying Younger Sibling, who somehow gets to follow in her uncle's (and whole lineage's) footsteps. John does everything to make sure she don't follow the path of occultism. But she does so anyways.
    • And then there's the time when John discovers Gemma having sex with his father-in-law. John's face was priceless.
  • Alien Abduction: Happens when Shade: The Changing Man took John for a ride.
  • All Myths Are True
  • Alternate Continuity: The John Constantine who's now showing up in the DCU in Justice League Dark is apparently the young thirty-something who first helped Swamp Thing come to terms with his identity, rather than the one in Vertigo's Hellblazer who's possibly pushing 60.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The demons. But The First is the most evil of them all.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: In the "Fear Machine" story arc, Constantine has to fight the Freemasons, who were trying to summon a Chthulthu monster that eats reality.
    • The Order of St Oran in "Empathy is the Enemy" (also a Cult).
  • And Your Little Dog Too: If you're ever associated with John Constantine, chances are you're already dead.
    • A perfect example was during the Reasons to be Cheerful arc. John's demonic children attempted to kill everyone that John has ever met and knew. That includes his family, close friends, and those he hasn't seen for a long time. They almost succeeded.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Actually an annoying niece; Gemma Masters, who wants to follow in her uncle's footsteps.
  • Anonymous Ringer: In "Royal Blood", various members of the royal family are portrayed as braying, cocaine-addled, incestuous perverts - but to appease DC's lawyers, they go unnamed.
  • Another Dimension: In "The Magus", John went to an alternate dimension where he died in the womb, not his twin brother. Also, a 2006 tie-in novel describes the ill-fated movie as taking place in an alternate universe (Yes, but why did it have to be this one?).
  • Anti Christ: John's thwarted him a few times. If it comes to it, he'll take an axe to a newly-born devil spawn (which just so happens to resemble a human baby) if it gets the job done.
    • And yet became the one to summon it. In the Son of Man arc, John finally came across the newly born Anti Christ. After bluffing away the demon who summoned it, John was the one who ended up killing it with an axe. Though it was never seen.
  • Anti-Hero: John, when his motivations are purely selfish.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: John encounters the embodiment of rape in "Son of Man."
    • In "The Horrorist", John's hot on the trail of "Angel", the embodiment of oppression, famine and murder. White guilt, basically.
    • Then there's Havoc, who resembles a skinned human with horns and is the demonic representation of chaos and violence everywhere. It takes a particular interest in causing riots at football grounds. Constantine only met him once, who was trying to cause another bloody football riot at that time, but John convinced him to take the life of a single thug rather than allow the stadium to descend into violence.
    • First of the Fallen, who is the Devil in the series, is the embodiment of sin and evil.
  • Anyone Can Die: Many characters, those who were long-lived and short-lived, die horribly. Only Chas and Gemma got lucky.
    • Even John Constantine got the end of it too. When the three Fates try to tell him he was going to die, John instead accepts death rather than cheat it like he always does, having lived a good and awesome life. But then he somewhat finds another loop in it too.
  • Apocalypse Cult: Freemasons, Order of St. Oran, Damnation Army, and many other unnamed cults.
  • Arch-Enemy: Nergal. Later, the First of the Fallen. Then Nergal again.
  • Asshole Victim: Virtually everyone whom John Constantine has tricked, and also gotten killed. In one issue, an unlucky idiot who just seemingly sat beside Constantine got immediately axed by the King of the Vampires, and that guy didn't even know Constantine.
  • Astral Projection: One of John's magic. He uses it during his battle with evil businessmen in the Joyride arc.
  • Author Tract: This is a major theme in Hellblazer. Since the beginning of its publication, writers have been putting their own political and philosophical British ideals in it, and since it follows real time than Comic Book Time, a lot of those ideals are come from what was happening in contemporary UK. Examples of this include Jamie Delano's negative views of Thatcher's regime and by 2005, includes the War against Terrorism. When Garth Ennis took writing, he included racism, drugs, and religious fanaticism which was popular at that time. The most controversial writer, Brian Azzarello, tackled issues such as Neo-Nazism, prison rape, and homosexuality. During Warren Ellis' run, he included American school shootings in a one-shot issue which led to a major controversy. As such, much of Hellblazer's horror often comes in the crisis and controversies of its time.
  • Autocannibalism: A bodybuilder in the first issue of Hellblazer falls victim to a demon's curse that makes people ravenous for what they desire most; he starts devouring his muscular arms.
  • Back from the Dead: The First, in "Critical Mass", also Nergal.
    • By the time of The Roots of Coincidence arc, John's long lost dead twin brother, whom John killed in the womb, comes back to visit in flesh, now showing he's more powerful and righteous.
  • Backstory: Hinted at in Swamp Thing, explained in detail in Hellblazer.
  • Badass: John, yours truly.
    • Badass Long Coat: Literally. After years of being worn during various mystical encounters, the damn thing's developed sentience.
    • Badass Grandpa: The serial killer Family Man. Also including Clarice Sackville, an aging but powerful magician who used to work for the Kray Twins.
      • John and Chas themselves are.
    • Badass Boast: As John says it beautifully, " 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?"
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: In "Critical Mass".
  • Bawdy Song: Constantine frequently sings these when drunk.
  • Becoming the Costume
  • Bedlam House: Constantine spent a considerable length of time here and often reflects on the traumatic impact it had on his life.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Sir. Francis Drakewood and Aleister Crowley was portrayed as powerful sorcerer.
  • Beleaguered Childhood Friend: Gary Lester in "Hunger", Chas in "Son of Man".
  • Bewarethe Quiet Ones: The djinn or genie in Pandemonium. It clearly showed those U.S. Marines some Middle East hospitality.
  • Bi the Way: John is bisexual, though it's rarely been mentioned and he's been shown to have far more female than male lovers, though that may have to do with the people writing him.
    • It doesn't help that, of the two storylines that make anything of his bisexuality, one is written by Brian Azzarello.
  • Bigger Bad: The Devil. Many of John's other enemies who are Big Bad bows down to this guy.
  • Black Magic
  • Black Spot: In an issue where one of Constantine's friends finds himself stalked by characters from fiction, he is warned of his fate by Blind Pew from Treasure Island slipping him the black spot.
  • Blue-Collar Warlock: John has his share of "middle-class" problems.
  • Body Horror: This being a horror comic, there a lot to pick from any of the writer's taste and style.
    • Demons tends to be like this to show they really are physically evil, like having animal and inorganic parts in their bodies. One particular demon, named Fuckpig, was a demon that resembles a big penis with no eyes
    • And then there's the mobster who gave birth to Antichrist. The poor man got himself pregnant, and his womb was twice bigger than his old body. Not to mention his limbs being thin, and blood was coming out from every hole in his body.
    • The demon Nergal is an artist concerning this trope. By sewing and combining the dead bodies of four soccer hooligans, the demon created Ironfist the Avenger; grotesque creature with four heads, six arms, and eight legs.
    • Then there's the Newcastle Calling arc. A creepy story about a gang of punk documentary who got cursed one by one when they stumbled upon a haunted club. One of the poor sods, after seeing a rope seemingly attached inside his hand with the words "pull me" written on it, started pulling the rope out of his hand. He ends up pulling his organs, eyes, and bones off his body, and he never stopped. And let's not get started with the other guy who ends up fucking a dead rotting dog.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: John Constantine does this from time to time. The "Son of Man" arc has John Constantine speaking to the reader where narration boxes or thought bubbles would more typically be used.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Though no arm was broke, Chas did tried to punch the demon Beroul, and he got teleported to somewhere in Los Angeles for doing it.
  • Bury Your Gays: John's friend Ray Monde.
  • But Not Too Bi: Partially due to Executive Meddling
  • Butt Monkey: The amount of crap the universe slings at Chas is unbelievable.
  • Catch Phrase: "Bollocks"
  • The Cameo: Morpheus in #19, and Zatanna in Forty.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Mako, who eats other magicians to gain their magical powers.
  • Character Overlap: John has appeared in dozens of other comics. Other characters to appear in Hellblazer include Swamp Thing, Zatanna, The Phantom Stranger and Lucifer.
  • Chessmaster: Aside from John Constantine, many of his enemies such as Mako the Humanitarian, homosexual politician/magician Stanley Manor, The Beast, gangster/demon Ronnie Cooper, Joshua Wright, Domine Fredericks, and Roscarnis and her demonic children.
    • God and The First of the Fallen, where the mortal realm is their playing field.
  • Chosen Conception Partner: Pre-New 52, Constantine became the biological father of the child of Swamp Thing and his wife, as Swamp Thing possessed his body at the time (with John's permission).
  • Combat Pragmatist: John is keen to cheat his ways to win, ball-kicking is of no exception.
    • During The Family Man arc, a serial killer who dispatches his victims by cutting them open with a knife is loose in London and is on a family-killing spree. In order to stop him, John baits the killer and challenges him to a fight. The killer immediately readies his knife for battle, but to his surprise John, armed with a revolver, shoots and kills him rather quickly. A classic maneuver!
  • Comic Book Time: Ignored; John has aged realistically since he first appeared. His birthday is 10 May 1953.
    • More subverted and played straight. An early incident in the series is heavily implied to have produced side-effects like prolonging his life and youth, but everyone else in the comic ages in real time. Gemma, when first introduced, is about eight years old, and has gone through grade school and her early 20s at appropriate times.
  • Continuity Overlap: The Family Man/serial killer convention overlapped with The Sandman; the vampires and The Ace of Winchesters overlapped with Hitman.
    • In a funny continuation thereof, Kathryn O'Brien from Hitman is explicitly the same character who later shows up in several arcs of Garth Ennis's run on The Punisher under Marvel's MAX imprint. That connects Hellblazer to The Punisher, one step removed. There's a conversation I'd like to see.
  • Consummate Liar: Being a walking plot device, this is Constantine's greatest power aside from magic.
  • Continuity Drift: Since the series has been written by different British writers from the past, it has its own share of the trope. One particular instance is Chas Chandler and Gary Lester's relationship. During Jamie Delano's arc, Chas says he doesn't know who Gary Lester is (which John Constantine described as an "old" acquaintance in his band years), but in Azzarello's run, both Gary and Lester is shown to have been best mates together with John Constantine in early years.
  • Corpse Land: Hell and Limbo
  • Corrupt Church: In "Stations of the Cross".
  • Crapsack World: Constantine's world is NOT a nice place to live in. It's filled to the brim with demons, a spiteful entity first created by God known as The First who wants nothing more than to see Constantine suffer, said God being supposedly insane, and humanity's hope lying in a cynical, cancer ridden man whose life is doomed to continue soaked in bloody death and misery. As for humanity itself, they're often just as bad as any demon or angel when it comes to sheer depravity or blind zealotry.
  • Crazy-Prepared: John Constantine. Sometimes all you need is a bottle of stout, box of ciggies, and a stinky goat to defeat a powerful demon.
    • Lampshaded so much in every battle forum he's been, to the point that the comic book community would call him prep god[1] or the #1 prepster in DC (Arguable rivals those of Batman's and Lex Luthor).[2]
  • Crossover Cosmology: Death of the Endless called him in to help spread the message on AIDS and practicing safe sex. His embarrassment over the demonstration of how to use a condom with a banana is a crowning moment of funny.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: John Constantine the Hellblazer was described as a fox by God himself. Can't argue with that.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The succubus Eli, even though being a demonic seducer, tends to be a sweet young lady.
  • Deadpan Snarker: How else do you describe a guy who'll call the Dark Knight "Squire"?
  • Deal with the Devil: Every variation used, too, including both figurative and literal ones. Whenever someone asks John for help, it's a crapshoot as to which one of them's the devil in the deal, too, even if the real Devil is involved.
    • The worst one, though, goes to John's just-murdered sister. The Devil tells her she's free to go to heaven or back to the world of the living, but her husband — her murderer — killed himself, too. The Devil tells her that if she stays in Hell with her now twice-damned husband, he'll fairly divide the infinite torment for eternity between them. She still loves her husband, and accepts the deal.
  • Deus ex Machina: Played literally in the series. One of John Constantine's signature and most powerful magic is synchronicity wave travelling, an ability he inherited from his bloodline as the Laughing Magician. This allowed him to literally make his own luck, reshape the battlefield to his own accordance, and be on the right place at the right time.
    • Very helpful when the demon Nergal tried to hit a dazed Constantine and his wife on the road (who have just finished their time-travelling adventure). John's wave travelling automatically set in, and the car just suddenly skedaddled and fell over a cliff.
  • Demon Slaying: John Constantine isn't called the "Hellblazer" for nothing. He's so good at this profession, that he can kill a demon with just a one sharp glance in Hellbazer #50.
  • The Descendants of Cain: The "Third Worlds" story arc has John meet with a tribe consisting of Cain's descendants, living near the entrance of the Garden of Eden in the Middle East in a state of perpetual penance. Their religious zeal leads his current girlfriend to mistake them for Islamists.
  • The Devil Is a Loser: The First of the Fallen.
  • Distaff Counterpart: John's ancestor Lady Johanna Constantine (premiered in The Sandman), who lived at the time of the American and French Revolutions. Her miniseries implies that the Constantine/the Laughing Magician is the same entity reincarnating along their bloodline (and killing his/her twin in the womb each time).
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: John's tricked a lot of Gods in his adventures. Most notably The God of Death, Rainbow Serpent, Lovecraftian gods, and most notably the Judeo-Christian God. John's the essential Trope Codifier.
  • Don't Fear The Reaper: When the three Fates tried to tell John Constantine of his impending Death, John just snarks them off.
  • Downer Ending: Many stories. Especially #300, the last issue of the original Hellblazer series.
    • Much of this are caused by John trying to save the day. Like that time John attempts to save his dying sister but ends up sending her soul to Hell, or when he tries to save a little girl from an elemental demon but ends up with the girl in pieces, or that time in Rake at the Gates of Hell arc when one-by-one John's closest friend either sacrifices themselves or killed trying to save John.
    • In the one-shot issue by Neil Gaiman Hold Me, Constantine celebrates the life of a dead friend while a spirit torments people while just wanting to have a little bit of human kindness. Caught up in the mess is a lesbian couple looking to have a kid and a little girl who lost her mother. A touching story.
  • The Dreaded: John Constantine is one of the only mortals to ever be feared by gods, heaven and hell.
    • In one guest appearance in Books of Magic, Zatannaand Timothy Hunter unwittingly got themselves cornered and outgunned by a whole army of sorcerers and monsters. When all hope seems lost, John Constantine suddenly arrived on scene, which got their attention quickly. All he did was light a cigarette, and reminded them what he can do and if they really want to tango with him. At that moment, every hostile suddenly ran away fot their lives, and Zatanna was confused and impressed. John later explained that since he has a reputation of getting anyone near him killed, nobody ever wants to be near him anymore.
  • Dreadful Musician: In his youth, Constantine was in a punk band called "Mucous Membrane" that he freely admits was terrible.
  • Drunken Song: Check Bawdy Song above.

  • Early-Bird Cameo: "Original Sins" contains two exceptional examples, a nameless shaman who tells Constantine the history of the opening arc's demon, and a crime boss quoted in an article as an old friend of Constantine's. Neither show up again until Andy Diggle's run, nearly 20 years later.
  • Easy Amnesia: In "Ward 24".
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "The Fear Machine", "Staring at the Wall" and "The Red Right Hand".
  • Eldritch Abomination: John Constantine met and defeated two Lovecraftian gods from different story arcs. Jallakuntilliokan, a two headed dragon/floating meat who eats reality, and M'Nagalah, who is the god of cancer.
  • Enfant Terrible: Little Harry in "Son of Man". He's actually the dead son of a crime boss whom Constantine was blackmailed into bringing back to life. Since he was unable to do so, John settled for summoning a demon into his body.
  • Escape Artist: John is second to none. He escaped life-threateing things considered impossible to escape. Until he accepted death and let himself killed. But still one of the best in fiction.
  • The End of the World as We Know It
  • Everybody Lives: "How to Play With Fire".
  • Evil Sorcerer: Many. Most notable is Mako and Stanley Manor.
  • Evil Twin: John himself; he strangled his brother in the womb with his own umbilical cord. But not really "Evil", just a better person than John could ever been.
  • Exiled from Continuity: The adult nature of his comic has kept John from being a major player in the more mainstream titles of The DCU, rarely making appearances outside of crowd shots or the occasional mention.
    • Averted by the end of Brightest Day, where it seems he'll now be a big player in the DCU again.
    • Kinda sorta. The John Constantine now appearing in Justice League Dark is an alternate version to the one in the Hellblazer series.
  • Experienced Protagonist: When John first shows up, he's been in the magic business for quite awhile. Flashbacks to his earlier days before the series started are frequent.
  • Extreme Omnisexual: The Archangel Gabriel is no stranger to this. Among those he bedded and raped are the Virgin Mary (resulting in you know who) and a disguised succubus.
    • Speaking of succubus, Eli has the powers of seduction for being one, which she used to seduce angels and Vatican priest quite rather easily.
  • Failure Is the Only Option
    • Perhaps the closest to an unequivocal victory John ever has is in the issue End of the Line, where he kills an ancient ancestor and dissuades his Gemma from a magical initiation, apparently ending the Constantines' Weird Shit heritage. He maintains that "I beat fate. It's no failure to be the last Constantine, cause now no one else has to be." You know your life sucks when your ultimate success is removing yourself from the gene pool.
      • And it doesn't stick. Not only does John have an estranged biological daughter in Tefé Holland, Gemma still goes back to magic.
  • Fantastic Racism: Being a "Suggested for Mature Readers" comic, Hellblazer plays this trope very nicely.
    • Angels and demons tend to be this to all mortals. The former itself are sometimes portrayed to be more racist than the latter, treating human beings like lower-life forms and toys. One issue involves luring a living human being to Heaven just for the fun of it. Somehow changing the history of literature forever.
    • Neo-Nazis in Highwater.
  • Fatal Flaw: John's addiction to the occult and the havoc it wreaks on his (increasingly few) attempts to have a 'normal' life.
    • Not to mention the cigarettes.
  • First-Person Smartass: John narrates much of the story with artistry, sometimes he becomes an Unreliable Narrator, but he's not shy in criticizing what the writer is writing.
  • Forgotten Birthday: In "Forty".
  • For the Evulz: One of the trope that introduces the First of the Fallen. Being the sole personification of evil himself, John is surprised to discover the Devil and his friend Brendan had made a deal to give the latter the biggest wine collection, even though John knew Brendan was just a simple pathetic drunkard. The First off course, responds by saying he made the deal because he finds Brendan amusing, and wanted to see him fail as he try to cheat the Devil. This of course, triggers John to try and save his friend. The rest was history.
  • Friend on the Force: Inspector Watford of Scotland Yard
    • During John's adventures in America, he has FBI Agent Turro tracking his tail until he gets murdered.
  • From Bad to Worse: John ends up with this trope in many of his greatest battles. Seen thoroughly when John's plan of tricking the First backfires with the latter killing everyone John ever loved.
    • The major theme of John's battle with the Beast. It all started when John though that the Shadow Dog was the one which was causing the end of the world, and succeeds in destroying it. He later found out that the Dog was actually the one which was making sure it never happened, and with it gone, the Beast appears and does what John was trying to prevent.
  • Fuku Fic: The absolutely delightful Crack Fic Sailor Hellblazer
  • Gag Penis: The demon Fuckpig, who is also the total embodiment of rape.
  • Genuine Human Hide: In an early issue, John clashes with yuppie demon soul brokers. He is sitting in the house of a pair of them and thinking how normal everything looks when he notices that the lampshade has a tattoo.
  • God and Satan Are Both Jerks: And John won't hesitate to tell the minions of either one of them that, either.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Gods in the Hellblazer mythos often times disappear when not worshipped. Others, such as Nergal, became demons in order to survive.
  • Gorn: Most prevalent when Garth Ennis is writing the series (it's practically his calling card), but crops up occasionally in other writers' runs as well.
  • The Grim Reaper: Two version appear in the series. Mictlantecuhtli the Aztec God of Death, and Death from TheSandman.
  • Hate Plague: Inverted in "The Red Right Hand", in which the plague makes people incredibly empathic - to the point that they share each other's misery and cause mass suicides.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "Fags" being British slang for cigarettes, and Constantine being a chain-smoker, lines like "'d better go and get yourself three days worth of food and fags" can sound rather odd to American readers.
    • Though in the case of John it could also be male homosexuals.
    • Naturally, during American Brian Azzarello's first storyline, the double meaning is exploited as Constantine emerges from a shower in prison and claims, "We're all out of fags."
  • Heroic Lineage: The Constantine family tree is an example. The lineage is known in history as Laughing Magicians; mortals who exist only to bluff, trick, and humiliate gods. This family existed just after the creation of gods and existence. Though not always seen as heroic, many of the family makes up a great Magnificent Bastard. Not to mention saving the world countless of times.
  • Hell: Hell in the series aren't often the fire and brimstone of myth. It constantly shifts and shapes to accomodate to different kinds of sinners. So everyone has his/her own Hell. If you think you'll like Hell because you like fire, well guess what, Hell isn't that generous to make sure you WILL NOT LIKE IT.
  • Hide Your Children: So horribly, horribly averted.
  • Hidden Badass: Chas Chandler. Expanded more in The Knowledge when Chas defeated a demon without John's help.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: When Nergal visits John in the hospital to get him to help in bringing down the Resurrection Crusaders, he brags about being the demon that screwed John over in Newcastle, thus letting slip what that demon's real name was. John catches the slip-up and files the information away for later use when he's in a better position to take advantage of it.
  • Holy Ground:
    • Played with in one arc. John makes a deal with a bunch of demons to get a little girl's soul back. The summoning takes place in an old church, so they're trapped in the circle. Which is when John brings in the other party to the deal, an Aztec death god who, having been around for longer than Christianity, has no problem with the holy nature of the church, and starts eating the demons.
    • He also once sets up an ambush by waiting for chasing demons to reveal that they're standing on the grounds of an old church that was later turned into an insane asylum.
    • Seen also in Brendan's vain attempt in cheating the First, by entrapping himself in a fountain blessed by a saint. This however gave Constantine the edge to finish the job.
  • Hustler: John himself has been shown doing short cons for cash as well as to get himself out of trouble.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Frequently does, although few of his friends/associates happen to like it.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming
  • I Drank What?: Happens to the First of the Fallen when he and John are drinking from a spring with a working that turned the springwater into pure stout. John then reveals that the spring was blessed — making it a holy water spring — before cutting off the spell...
  • I Know Your True Name: Comes up every now and then.
    • Newcastle went the way it did mostly because 'Sagatana' wasn't the real name of the demon John was conjuring up like he thought. It's Nergal.
    • In one story, Constantine was tied to the bottom of a peer by a mobster who'd disposed of quite a few unfortunate souls by letting the tide wash over them. Constantine eggs him on until he blurts out the names of the people he's killed, and is more than a little surprised to find his victims suddenly rising from the water, looking for revenge.
  • {{I'm a Humanitarian}}: In the Damnation's Flame story arc, castaways stranded in a different dimension tried to eat Constantine when he was thrown there.
  • Infant Immortality: As with older children, this is averted. Babies die. A lot.
    • One example shows John putting all of his weakness and fears into a form of a baby...before throwing the poor thing off a cliff. What a Magnificent Bastard.
    • And let's not forget all those babies used as a sacrifice in the Son of Man arc. There were a LOT.
  • Interspecies Romance: The tragic relationship of Eli and Tali. The former and John Constantine tends to have an on-off relationship with each other.
    • Then there the Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary...
    • John himself is no stranger to this. He slept with the demon Roscarnis who later gave birth to three children trying to kill him, and "Angel", the embodiment of oppression, famine and murder.
  • Inner Monologue
  • In the Blood: The Constantine line consists of a long history of somewhat dodgy magic users, although John's father, sister, grandfather and uncles were Muggles. Apart from John himself, Lady Johanna (18th century) is the most famous.
  • Invisible Means Undodgeable: John's spells are often this. One time John just uttered a curse that gave a poor sod an erectile dysfunction, or that one time he made his father wither and die.
    • In issue 250, John went face to face with a powerful goat demon which easily pummels him down. When John was in a chokehold, the only thing he did was give it a sharp glance, and it exploded.
  • It Gets Easier: Constantine used to be freaked out by horribly mutilated bodies but these days he's cold as stone.
  • JerkAss/Jerk with a Heart of Gold: John switches between the two. He can be genuinely charming, friendly and truly care about the people that get close to him and regrets destroying their lives. At the same time, he is petty, selfish, manipulative and vengeful. He is often an a-hole to complete strangers and spits in the eye of any authority because he can. He draws people into his life time and again with little hesitation despite knowing the consequences and uses magic to curse people who cross him from minor to horrifying ways.

  • Killed Off for Real: All the time. Well, in a world with afterlives and resurrections.
  • Kill 'em All: Garth Ennis' final story killed off most of the characters he introduced.
    • This is becoming something of a tradition in the comics, with outgoing writers butchering most surviving cast members they introduced. By the end of Mike Carey's run, he killed off not only a surviving member of Ennis' cast Mange, but also almost every surviving character of any significance in the series' run before even then. Only Chas and Gemma survive from Delano's days, but Constantine's thoroughly alienated the both of them.
  • Knight Templar: Usually the forces of Heaven; also the Order of Saint Oran in "Empathy is the Enemy".
  • Light Is Not Good: Angels, of all things.
  • Long Runner: With the DC relaunch and cancellation of Uncanny X-Men, Hellblazer became the longest running series from the Big Two to never have been cancelled or renumbered (noting that Action Comics and Detective Comics went back to #1 without being given the chance to get to #1000).
  • Magical Society: John once was member of the Tate Club, a London-based sorcerer's guild.
  • Made of Evil: The First of the Fallen, being the Devil and Satan, is the embodiment of sin and evil.
  • Magicians Are Wizards: Aside from being an occultist, John's also a magician, knowing stage magic and real Magick.
  • Magician Detective: John has two occupations from time to time. Magician and Occult Detective. So its a cross with both.
  • Magick: Unlike other fantasy genre magic who is filled with shooting lightning from your hands, and casting spells with wands nonsense, Magick in the Hellblazer mythos (and the whole Vertigo universe) is spontaneous, invisible, unlimited, and omnipotent. This means that although Magick is powerful, it is not flashy as seen in many fantasy genre, making it more of a realistic magic.
  • Magic Versus Science: Magick in Hellblazer is heavily differentiated by users from science, though both can be combined to create greater effect. Magic and science are two different logical reasoning. But Science is greater accepted as it is easier to apprehend, where as magick is complicated. This is the reason why mages are executed in ancient times because of their powers. This can be further explained in Books of Magic.
  • The Magic Versus Technology War: John once defeated the god-demon Nergal by trapping him inside a computer, before the computer opened a gateway to Heaven where angels ripped Nergal apart.
  • Magnetic Hero: John is a very magnetic personality, able to pull people into being allies. Woe them.
  • Memetic Badass: John is an in-universe example, which is Lampshaded in The Books of Magic. A threat from him gets an entire club of monsters and dark magicians to back off from Timothy and Zatanna, even though Zatanna has far more magical power than him.
  • Missing Episode: "Shoot," by Warren Ellis, was also known as issue #141. But, due to the fact that it was written when school shootings were all too common and the comic implied that some kids wanted to be shot, it was shelved pretty quickly. Thankfully, it was released in late 2010. It only took eleven years!
    • It should be noted that the cover art and a uncolored version of the comic was available well before Vertigo resurrected printed the comic.
  • Mr. Seahorse: A London gangster's pregnancy goes undetected, as everybody thinks he's just overweight. An enterprising demon wants to emulate the immaculate conception, only in reverse: gang boss Harry Cooper was selected for his sterling record of sadism (he raped his aunt at age 13). Making London the birthplace of the antichrist was no accident, either. ("Where the misery is built into the bricks and mortar...)
  • Monster Progenitor: The King of the Vampires is this to the Vampires.
  • Mundanger: In "The Family Man", the titular monster turns out to be an elderly Serial Killer. In "Good Intentions", a creature that is killing people in the wilderness around a mountain village turns out to merely be an enormous boar.
  • Mushroom Samba: John takes a LOT of drugs in the earlier issues.
  • Muggle: Averted. Although John is dubbed The Laughing Magician, and has come from a lineage of powerful occultists, in the DC Universe John doesn't have any Homo Magi blood whatsoever, giving an impression he's a Badass Normal. Apparently in the Hellblazer mythos, many magicians and occultist are just people who know some spell, as in this world you don't need any magical blood to perform magic. Heck, even John's sidekick and normal everyman Chas, managed to cast a spell once.
  • My Greatest Failure: After messing up a summoning in 1979, John accidentally damned a little girl to Hell. This hung over him until the "Critical Mass" arc, when he freed her and all the other damned children.
    • As a troubled young man, John was blackmailed into reviving the dead son of a gangster ("Son of Man"). Putting aside the fact that this is an impossible task, the lives of John's relatives were on the line. So, John simply summoned a demon and installed him in the boy's body. Cut to the present, where archdemon "Harry" is now running the whole crime syndicate, raping women on a daily basis and harvesting blood from babies to maintain his form. Repeat ad nauseum (pun intended) for ten years. You do the math. Constantine unwittingly stumbled upon the warehouse where Harry keeps his leftovers.
  • Narrator: All the time - and in "Son of Man", he looked at and talked directly to the reader. (Lampshaded in the final part, when people overhearing him are laughing at the mad bloke talking to himself.)
  • Near Death Clairvoyance: In "Sex and Death" and "Sins of the Father".
  • Near Death Experience: In "Sex and Death", "Sins of the Father", "Staring at the Wall" and "Empathy is the Enemy".
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: John has a seemingly inexhaustible supply of minor spells.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: John's plans, as he himself can attest, frequently lead to the horrible deaths of everyone involved, even the ones he's trying to save. Sometimes, he even does this on purpose.
  • No Bisexuals: Peculiarly, both averted and played straight (so to speak). One issue mentions that John has occasional bisexual tendencies...but then it is never mentioned again.
    • Until a storyline during the Azzarello run in which he pulls off a con based around seducing another man.
  • Nominal Hero: John Constantine is this by the annoyance of everyone. Being an antihero, most of his battles are because he was being forced to comply, for personal gain (ready to sacrifice anyone), or simply just being bored and want to do some shit.
  • Noodle Incident: The Newcastle seance - until "Critical Mass," in which more details are revealed.
    • This may also count as a Double Subversion: you do see the exact incident in issue #11 (Newcastle: A Taste of Things To Come), but until recently, issue #11 had never been re-released in a trade paperback.
  • No One Could Survive That: Being an escapologist, con artist, and walking plot device, John Constantine made a name for himself due to this. He has came up against the most powerful beings in existence such as the First and God/Gods, and somehow only leaves "a nod, a wink, and a wisecrack". It also helps that Deus ex Machina is one of his signature powers.
    • His sidekick, Chas Chandler, also has his few shares. The guy survived from almost being raped by a demon, to having a long nose fuel truck dropped unto his head... before exploding. And he even had no scratches.
    • The god-turned demon Nergal also has this. Years of fighting with Constantine, the demon survived the end of John's wit. This included being ripped apart when John bait him to the gates of Heaven (but not before trapping him in a computer!), to being completely destroyed by the First of the Fallen.
  • Not So Invincible After All: In "Dangerous Habits", Constantine contracted lung cancer from a lifetime of smoking. However, he tricked the Lords of Hell into curing him. He also suffered from alcoholism.
    • Done to the First of the Fallen twice in Ennis' run. Constantine tricks him into drinking stout transmuted from holy water, then transmutes it back. At the end of Ennis' run, Ellie kills the First outright, making him wonder where the Devil goes when he dies. Answer: Greece, if you must know.
  • Occult Detective: Though he usually does it out of curiosity or necessity instead of money.
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: Seen in Hard Times story arc. During John's days incarcerated in a penitentiary, a gang of inmates decided to rape the Englishman while he was taking a shower. Unfortunately John isn't too keen in getting butt-plugged. Although readers never saw what was going on inside the shower room, John seemingly saves his ass by cursing the would be rapists with catatonia. Apparently it was too awesome to be seen.
  • Old Friend: Loads, usually doomed.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Werewolves in the Hellblazer mythos looked vaguely different from traditional animalistic werewolf. Although still retaining their bloodthirsty instinct, they are still capable of communications, an can ride horses too.
    • The demon Norfulthing is a powerful werewold/elemental who eats people, and it can even detach its head and home in on its prey.
  • Out with a Bang: "Tainted Love", "Fear and Loathing" and "Bred in the Bone".
    • The 'fuckpig' ("You're taking the piss.") has a three-foot phallus and isn't afraid to use it. ("Son of Man")
    • John's dong saved the world once. It involved having sex with all the suffering in the world. ("The Horrorist")
  • Photographic Background
  • Pietŕ Plagiarism: Literally, on the cover of issue 217.
  • The Plan: Too many to count, perpetrated by John as often as his enemies. It makes sense, for a hero who is so much more about using cunning than using his fists.
    • These frequently spin off into Gambit Pile Up played straight, as John's enemies are both numerous and rarely fools themselves. If John's inadvertently pissed off the wrong bastard, odds are good he's relying on plans that his enemies have already countered, if not co-opted themselves.
  • Post-Modern Magik: In the Hellblazer mythos, magic exists even in the modern world, albeit mixed in with its culture. There are even sorcerers who can blend magic and technology as tenchnomancers such as Ritchie Simpson who can open portals to different realms using computers.
  • Prison Rape: In "Confessional", "Son of Man" and "Hard Time".
    • During the Hard Time arc, John almost gets this while taking a shower ala "drop the soap". But John, being one step ahead, curses the would be rapists with catatonia.
  • Psycho for Hire: Gestapo, from the Son of Man arc. His employer even remarks that he's "to all intents and purposes a serial killer".
  • Rage Against the Heavens: In "Original Sins", John fought off an attempt to create a new messiah.
  • Razor Apples: When John gets locked up in prison, an inmate attempts to spike his food with ground glass. Tables get turned, but God? only knows how. Results are messy.
  • Really Gets Around: The title character. From his appearance in The Books of Magic alone, it's clear he's been involved with Madame Xanadu and Zatanna.
  • Retcon: In Swamp Thing John said he was in a mental hospital for "a couple of weeks" after something terrible happened in Newcastle. In Hellblazer, that was retconned to several years. Additionally, the comic adds old (but hitherto unseen) friends and enemies on a relatively regular basis.
  • Revenge

  • Satan: The First of the Fallen, the leader of Hell, is John's arch-enemy.
    • A bit more complicated than usual: the actual Lucifer, the former Devil, quit his job in Sandman... a plot point which was eventually carried over to Hellblazer, but then it had to be explained who the current Devil was. Turns out the First was God's first creation, and predates even angels. In the Hellblazer mythos, Lucifer and Satan are different.
  • Self-Inflicted Hell: Which now contains John's father, sister and brother-in-law. Also his evil half (don't worry, he got a new one).
  • Serial Killer: In "The Family Man", "Dangerous Ground" and "Out of Season".
  • Shellshocked Veteran: Ross in "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."
    • Not only Ross, but his whole deranged platoon. After surviving Vietnam and each sent home, Ross and the boys were traumatized to a pulp. His family and the town attempt to pray for theirrecovery, but ends up with Ross and the others killing everyone in town, even his own wife and kids.
  • Sidekick: His best mate and occasional foil Chas Chandler.
  • Shout-Out: Issue 214 had the screen names of various Hellblazer fans as graffiti on a wall; issue 229 featured one of the fans as a character; issue 230 featured two fans as ghostly apparitions.
  • Shrouded in Myth: John is this trope.
  • Significant Monogram: John Constantine and several of his ancestors and relatives.
  • Smoking Is Cool: John is rarely without a cigarette and the the most iconic images is Constantine lighting his cigarette like the page image. Also averted that he actually has to face the consequences of lung cancer at least till a Deal with the Devil.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Isabel Bracknell in "Haunted".
  • To Hell and Back: In various stories, most notably "Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go".
    • John goes there many times like some strolling place. One demon even remarks that John "belongs" in Hell.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Many of Constantine's associates become one. Namely his best mate and sidekick Chas Chandler, who took down a powerful demon by himself and a few others.
  • Too Soon: The reason why Warren Ellis' "Shoot" was never published; see Missing Episode above.
  • Trademark Favorite Cigarette: Constantine prefers Silk Cut Cigarettes
  • Tragic Hero
  • Trenchcoat Brigade: Just guess. John actually coined the term.
  • Trickster Archetype: Yours truly. Constantine is the Trope Codifier of Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?
  • Unwitting Pawn: If you're a friend of John, odds are you're one of these and you don't know it. Same goes for his enemies too.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Chas. He survived what his best mate John's adventures for years...
  • The Chessmaster: John himself is. He has a huge arsenal of Unwitting Pawns.
    • Many of John's enemies are cunning as well. The First, Roscarnis, Myrddin, John's twin brother, and Ronnie Cooper.
  • The Vicar: Rick the Vic
  • The Vietnam War: In "When Johnny Comes Marching Home".
  • Villain Decay: The First of the Fallen was intended to serve as a powerful, terrifying enemy for Constantine, but a string of defeats and being outwitted by John made him such a joke that John once claimed that if he (John) were to be sent to hell he could easily run circles around the First and would eventually take control from him. The First is only in charge thanks to being the most powerful demon yet his influence on Earth is limited. Later writers realized this and gave him the occasional victory to try to restore him somewhat.
  • Villain Team-Up: In "How to Play With Fire".
  • Violent Glaswegian: Header.
  • The War on Terror: In the graphic novel "Pandemonium".
  • Weak, but Skilled: John doesn't fight fair or use magic all that often. Yet he still manages to take on Heaven, Hell, and whatever else, if only because he's really good at planning and manipulating others.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Turns out John's unborn twin is using synchronicity (the ability to warp reality, making things work out for him that comes with being the "Laughing Magican") to screw with Johns life. The twin uses the power to attract all the bad stuff that happens to John whilst using the power to stop him dying from it (neatly explaining all the bad stuff that happens to everyone around him but John manages to escape). Why may you ask? so John will give up, commit mental suicide and allow the twin to take over
    • Lampshaded by a demon in ''Son of Man':
    ''"You belong here, don't you, Constantine? This is your world. Eyelids slit off and babies on hooks. Guttings and rapings. I swear to fuck, yours is the kind of life serial killers wank off to."
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: In-universe example. Following the events of "Critical Mass," John is left entirely good. Deciding he doesn't like it, he goes on a journey to recover his inner bastard.
  • Whatever Mancy
  • What the Hell, Hero?: It's rare to see a story arc without it.
    • One great and early example is the Original Sins arc. Gary Lester, a long time junkie and close friend of John Constantine, has successfully trapped a demon. The demon suddenly escapes and Gary looks for John's help. He finds John and seeks his assistance in retrapping the demon. John agrees to help, but instead uses Gary as a sacrifice to placate the demon. Nice work to start off the series.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: The place where Constantine "died".
  • Woman Scorned: Ellie, and pretty much every girl John met.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Epiphany Greaves in the more recent books.

The 2013 Constantine series contains:

Green LanternTropeNamers/Comic BooksThe Incredible Hulk
Jimmy OlsenDC Comics CharactersThe Joker
Hack/SlashHorror Comic BooksHellboy
Flex MentalloCreator/Vertigo ComicsHouse of Mystery
GuardiansFantasy Comic BooksHexed
Fish PoliceThe EightiesSilver Sable
Continuity SnarlImageSource/Comic BooksBlue-Collar Warlock
FablesUrban FantasyHellboy

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