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 CoatAnti-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-wieldingexorcist 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.
In "The Horrorist", John's hot on the trail of "Angel", the embodiment of oppression, famine and murder. White guilt, basically.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 scene, an unlucky idiot who just seemingly sat beside Constantine got killed immidiately 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: As many as one would expect during Garth Ennis' run on the series.
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.
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?"
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 hiswonb was twice bigger than his old body. His legs were thin and blood was coming out of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Don't Fear The Reaper: There are two so far. Mictlantecuhtli, the God of Death, and Death, Morpheus' sibling. Both were already outwitted by John.
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.
Dreadful Musician: In his youth, Constantine was in a punk band called "Mucous Membrane" that he freely admits was terrible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fatal Flaw: John's addiction to the occult and the havoc it wreaks on his (increasingly few) attempts to have a 'normal' life.
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.
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 "...you'd better go and get yourself three days worth of food and fags" can sound rather odd to American readers.
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, Hell is't that kind to make sure you WILL NOT LIKE IT.
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.
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.
Hustler: John himself has been shown doing short cons for cash as well as to get himself out of trouble.
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...
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.
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: In issue 250, John went face to face with a demon which easily pummels him down. When John was in a chokehold, he gave a smile, and the demon spontaneously exploded. It is later explained that John killed the demon with a spell.
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.
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".
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.
John later becomes part of the Trenchcoat Brigade to fight the Cult of Cold Flame and save Timothy Hunter.
Magician Detective: John has two occupations from time to time. Magician and Occult Detective. So its a cross with both.
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 Sscience 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 theirpowers. This can be further explained in Books of Magic.
The Magic Versus Technology War: 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...)
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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 in the shower ala "drop the soap". But John, being one step ahead, curses the would be rapists with catatonia.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.