Cover to Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer’ #1. Art: Bilquis Evely, Mat Lopes/DC’s Black Label/DC

by Clyde Hall. Jack’s back. If ever there was a folklore ‘Jack’ in comics, it’s John Constantine. He’s savvy, streetwise, charismatic, clever, and proudly blue collar. His morality is pliable, his charm irresistible, and his magical improvisation rivaled only by his disdain for the mystical elite’s penchant for pomp.

Constantine has retained his swaggered scorn for high-profile “heroes” even while temporarily joining their ranks. But it’s the Hellblazer as a loosed spell cannoneer who prefers his deals shady, his gin and tonic bitter, and his membership card for any group retracted that most readers crave. Early Constantine, an irascible rogue, a right bastard. 

It’s this approach that is being heralded by DC’s Black Label with The Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer #1 in this first-look coming out from New York Comic Con. The grizzled magus, once felled by a future Tim Hunter drunk with necromantic power, has a fresh chance to sway younger Tim away from his dark destiny. 

The question of “Why?” falls between two Constantine extremes. Maybe he can be a good example of a bad example that keeps Tim on a truer path. Or maybe the kid needs put down before he goes black hat. 

Writer Simon Spurrier begins dealing out answers, along with undoubtedly additional questions and conundrums, in this one-shot hitting stores on October 30. The special will be followed by the November debut of the ongoing John Constantine, Hellblazer from Spurrier and artist Aaron Campbell (Infidel, Lucifer). For his part, Spurrier had this to say:

“They asked me for a quote about how great John Constantine is and how honored I am to write him,” he said in the official press release. “Bollocks. He’s given me a stomach ulcer and I haven’t slept in weeks. Just read the bloody comic so he leaves me alone.”

$4.99 | M | OCTOBER 30 (FOC OCTOBER 7)

Written by Si Spurrier.
Art by Marcio Takara.
Colors by Cris Peter.
Cover A by Bilquis Evely, Mat Lopes.
Cover B by Declan Shalvey.

From DC: In this ten-page preview, Constantine is seen in an expanded version of a critical scene from Neil Gaiman’s classic Books Of Magic miniseries. After getting tangled up in a magical war waged across countless futures, Constantine was murdered by an all-powerful adversary: a twisted version of the promising young magician Timothy Hunter, bloated with evil. But over the past year strange forces have conspired to restart Tim Hunter’s tale, and somehow—amid sorcery, insanity and secret agendas—this older, wiser, wilier shade of Constantine has been dragged back with it. Now he must ask himself why he, the last person in the world to deserve a second chance, has been given one. Is John Constantine here to put Tim Hunter on the right track and avert a terrible outcome? Or is it because he’s the only person in existence with the guts to do what really must be done? After all, he’s a nasty piece of work, chief… ask anybody.