Detail from the cover to Hellblazer #214 (2005) by Bradstreet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many of you are asking, who the heck is John Constantine? Others are wondering why Keanu Reeves made it onto the list. Well, the horrible movie aside, Constantine is actually a very interesting and off-kilter hero within the DC universe. Also, potentially part of a movie in the next year or so helmed by Guillermo Del Toro.
Who is John Constantine?
Mostly referred to as Constantine, he is a hero only in the loosest sense of that word. However, what he is good at is magic. He very much does not look the part, however, and looks more like something out of an uninspired noir movie from the 1940’s. Still, that is part of his charm. His English accent, his massive tobacco addiction, his utterly manipulative nature, and his low brow charm/wit/sarcasm all combine to make him one of the funnest characters to read. He used to be in a book called Hellblazer, but now resides both in his own self-titled comic, as well as the non-aptly titled Justice League: Dark.
Is this character heroic? No. He is selfish, manipulative, and very, very unwilling to sacrifice himself personally for the greater good. He may often be found on the SIDE of the greater good, but he would much rather throw someone else under the bus before taking a risk himself. (0 points)
Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? Well, he stands against the powers, honestly. No one, I mean no one, really likes him. He is a foreigner. He dabbles in magic that even most magic users find distasteful. He manipulates everyone. Everyone. Never mind that if he ever became the power, he would be the worst leader ever. But that is secondary. He does not represent any power but himself. (1 point)
Does this character kill? Yep. Often in ritualistic and gruesome ways. He might feel a twinge of guilt about it, but… actually never-mind. He doesn’t even feel bad about it. (0 points)
Does this character have a spirituality? Well, he does have that. It is a bizarre and mostly messed up, self-loathing spirituality that comes out of the need to literally interact with spirits and magic, but, it is there, on literally every page. So I guess that counts… (1 point)
Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit?No doubt about it. One of the more interesting things that DC did when it folded Constantine back into the DC universe proper (he used to be a Vertigo porperty) was to make COnstantine and Zatana have a past together. She comes as close as anyone to being someone John cares about, and to see them play out the hurt me, save me, save you, hurt you relationship over and over is actually very engaging. Also, John’s relationships with his JL:Dark teammates are worth the price of the book. (1 point)
Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? No. Not really. BEsides Zatanna mentioned above (who really isn’t even his supporting character since she has been more popular and in more books than him). Everyone else in his books are there just to get hurt and manipulated by him, (0 points)
Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? no. (0 bonus points)
Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? No. While it is fun to read about, Constantine is pretty much everything that I hate about people in one place. (0 Points)
Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? Yeah. Having a “hero” use blak, dark, and forbidden magic all the time, being immune to its cirrupting effects because he is already corrupt, is a nice refresher from the hoo-rah, mom and apple pie characters that we grew up with. Of course, as our heroes get darker, John stands as a reminder of what happens when you throw out all the rules…(1 point)
Verdict: 4 out of 8 points
Tune in next time for a discussion of the Incredible Hulk…