Oh my friends, John Constantine is back from the dead!
You may remember that it has been almost twenty months since they put him in the ground. By my own count it has been one-year, seven-months, and seven-days, since I penned my own small tribute to the Hellblazer. And suddenly here he is again, big as life on my TV screen, the dirt of the grave still clinging to the soles of his shoes…,
“Nay!” boom the voices of the cynics in the crowd, “It is well known that comic book characters cannot ever truly die. Did not John’s adventures continue in the pages of ‘Constantine’ after the run of ‘Hellblazer’ had been brought to an end?”
I’ll grant you that folks in the hero-books never die. However, John never really spent much time walking those circles, and characters in the more adult Vertigo imprint do not seem quite so robust in their immortality, as are the SuperFriends.
As for the aforementioned book, titled ‘Constantine’, well you can borrow a man’s name and his clothes, but without the body you’ve got nothing to hang them on. Which is just my fancy way of saying that the disneyfied guy in that book is NOT John f@*king Constantine, so don’t even get me started!
“Fine then, leaving aside the question of IF it counts as a resurrection,” comes the counterpoint, “it’s not really much of one, is it? Over a year and a half go by before he crawls up out of his literary grave, and here you are crowing like it was the second coming!”
Oh sure, Odin only hung on the tree for nine days, and Jesus did his bit over a long weekend, but these are deities we’re talking about and shrugging off death is right there in the job description.
The character of John Constantine is a foul-mouthed, chain smoking, deviant, with highly questionable moral underpinnings, who traffics regularly with unclean spirits and the worst dregs of humanity, and has somehow made the leap from a little known comic book, into a prime-time network television series. That alone might be miracle enough, but if the first couple episodes are any indication, he’s managed to retain most of his edge through the unlikely transition.
And as an added bonus, he’s not being played by Keanu Reeves!
“And that’s the problem,” cry the ever helpful doubters, “it’s network television, so they’ll screw it up. He can’t possibly be the same bastard he was in the comics. Have you noticed how most of his smoking is done off-camera, so as to be politically-correct? You can’t really believe it’s the same Constantine you knew from ‘Hellblazer’ and not some sanitized pretender?!”
And maybe they’re right. Maybe I’m hoping for too much.
It’s too early to tell, just yet.
Personally, I’m one to keep a real sharp eye on anyone or anything that comes back from the dead. No one leaves the lands of the dead unchanged – fictional or otherwise – and such changes are not always for the better. So, I’ll be watching, to see if he really is who he says he is, or if ‘something else’ is using his body to take a stroll.
I’ve missed my monthly dose of the Hellblazer.
I don’t think I’m the only one.
The writing, the casting, the look of the show, they all feel as if they were lifted right out of an old issue and projected onto the screen. Even John’s little speech at the end of the first episode was pulled almost word for word from one of my favorite issues. It is the same speech I quoted at the end of my little eulogy last year.
And so, as is always the case where John Constantine is concerned, there is a cautious species of hope arriving from the most unlikely and unlooked for of places. And anyway, I really should have known better than to believe that the swindling bastard would stay in the grave one second longer than he had to.
The old place still smells the same, that’s the weirdest part. Beneath the new carpets and the fancy wallpaper, the gloss paint and velvet drapes, the lingering taint of blood and sweat, piss and shit. The tang of human fear. Takes me right back, it does. I never expected to come back. Not after last time. I thought I was done with this place. Thought it was done with me…, But here I am again, back for one last ride on the merry-go-round.
John Constantine: Hellblazer 1988 – 2013 / 2014 – ?