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Hellblazer

Hellblazer is a contemporary horror comic book series published by the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics. Its central character is the streetwise magician John Constantine. It has been published continuously since January 1988.

Origins

After favourable reader reaction to John Constantine's appearances in the comic book series Swamp Thing, where he had been introduced by Alan Moore during his authorship of the title, the character was given his own comic book series in 1988. The series was intended to bear the title Hellraiser, but this title was revised before publication due to the contemporaneous release of Clive Barker's unrelated film of the same name.

The initial creative team was writer Jamie Delano and artist John Ridgway, with Dave McKean supplying distinctive painted and collage covers. Delano introduced a political aspect to the character: "...generally I was interested in commenting on 1980s Britain. That was where I was living, it was shit, and I wanted to tell everybody."

Other creators

Others who have worked on the series include writers Garth Ennis, Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis, Darko Macan, Brian Azzarello, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Eddie Campbell, John Smith, Mike Carey, Denise Mina, and Andy Diggle; and artists Mark Buckingham, Tim Bradstreet, Steve Dillon, Marcelo Frusin, Leonardo Manco and Sean Phillips. Peter Hogan also wrote two Hellblazer spinoff stories, entitled Love Street and Marquee Moon. In 2006 popular crime novelist Ian Rankin announced that he was working on a six-issue pitch for Hellblazer that may eventually become a graphic novel.

Setting and protagonist

Hellblazer is set in a contemporary world, albeit a world of magic and supernatural conflict behind the scenes. Although issue 14 made a passing reference to superheroes, the series has since developed its own pocket universe in which the supernatural or paranormal does not play a large role in the lives of most ordinary people, and in earth threatening circumstances no superhero interventions are shown or hinted at, suggesting that superheroes no longer exist there. However, some DC Comics characters—most notably the fringe supernatural characters such as Zatanna, The Phantom Stranger and Swamp Thing have made appearances. This could be because they have the ability to move between universes.

Hellblazer's main character is portrayed as a kind of confidence man, doing morally questionable things, sometimes for the greater good. Constantine usually triumphs in his conflicts through guile, deceit and misdirection, but often makes more enemies in the process than he defeats. Indeed, it is a common theme in the book that Constantine is unable to effect any lasting change or enjoy unequivocal victories. While sometimes striving for the good of mankind, Constantine is often manipulative and a dangerous person to have as a friend, as the lives and souls of those around him become perilously involved in his misadventures. He takes pains to protect himself from direct attacks, but his friends and relatives are often endangered in order to strike at him. The spirits of deceased friends haunt him, individually or as an entourage of ghosts.

Constantine has made appearances in other comic book titles, such as The Sandman, Lucifer and Shade, the Changing Man. He was a recurring supporting character in both Swamp Thing and The Books of Magic throughout their numerous incarnations.

Publications

Collected editions

Hellblazer has been incompletely collected as a number of trade paperbacks by DC Vertigo. In chronological order, they are:

Title Issues collected Writer(s) ISBN Issues and/or story arcs reprinted
Original Sins 1–9 Jamie Delano ISBN 1-56389-052-6 "Hunger", "A Feast of Friends", "Going for It", "Waiting for the Man", "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", "Extreme Prejudice", "Ghosts in the Machine", "Intensive Care", "Shot to Hell"
The Devil You Know 10–13, plus The Hellblazer Annual and The Horrorist 1-2 Jamie Delano ISBN 1-40121-269-7 "Sex and Death", "Newcastle: A Taste of Things to Come", "The Devil You Know...", "On The Beach", "The Bloody Saint", "Venus of the Hardsell", "Antarctica"
The Fear Machine 14–22 Jamie Delano ISBN 1-40121-810-5 "The Fear Machine"
The Family Man 23-24, 28-33 Jamie Delano, Dick Foreman ISBN 1-40121-964-0
(October 2008)
"Larger Than Life", "The Family Man", "Thicker Than Water", "Sick At Heart", "Fatality", "Mourning Of The Magician"
Rare Cuts 11, 25–26, 35, 56, 84 Jamie Delano, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis ISBN 1-40120-240-3 "Newcastle: A Taste of Things to Come", "Early Warning", "How I Learned to Love the Bomb", "This is the Diary of Danny Drake", "Another Part of Hell"
Dangerous Habits 41–46 Garth Ennis ISBN 1-56389-150-6 "Dangerous Habits"
Bloodlines 47–50, 52–55, 59–61 Garth Ennis ISBN 1-40121-514-9 "The Pub Where I Was Born", "Love Kills", "The Lord of the Dance", "Remarkable Lives", "Royal Blood", "Guys and Dolls"
Fear and Loathing 62–67 Garth Ennis ISBN 1-56389-202-2 "End of the Line", "Forty", "Fear and Loathing", "Dear John"
Tainted Love 68–71 plus Hellblazer Special and short story from Vertigo Jam Garth Ennis ISBN 1-56389-456-4 "Tainted Love", "Down All the Days", "Rough Trade", "Heartland", "Finest Hour", "Confessional"
Damnation's Flame 72–77 Garth Ennis ISBN 1-56389-508-0 "Damnation's Flame", "Act of Union", "Confessions of an Irish Rebel", "And the Crowd Goes Wild"
Rake at the Gates of Hell 78–83 plus the Heartland one-shot Garth Ennis ISBN 1-40120-002-8 "Rake at the Gates of Hell", "Heartland"
Son of Man 129–133 Garth Ennis ISBN 1-40120-202-0 "Son of Man"
Haunted 134–139 Warren Ellis ISBN 1-56389-813-6 "Haunted"
Setting Sun 140–143 Warren Ellis ISBN 1-40120-245-4 "Locked", "The Crib", "Setting Sun", "One Last Love Song", "Telling Tales"
Hard Time 146–150 Brian Azzarello ISBN 1-56389-696-6 "Hard Time"
Good Intentions 151–156 Brian Azzarello ISBN 1-56389-856-X "Good Intentions"
Freezes Over 157–163 Brian Azzarello ISBN 1-56389-971-X "...And Buried?", "Freezes Over", "Lapdogs and Englishmen"
Highwater 164–174 Brian Azzarello ISBN 1-40120-223-3 "Highwater", "A Fresh Coat of Red Paint", "Chasing Demons", "Ashes and Dust in the City of Angels"
Red Sepulchre 175–180 Mike Carey ISBN 1-40120-485-6 "High on Life", "Red Sepulchre"
Black Flowers 181–186 Mike Carey ISBN 1-40120-499-6 "The Game of Cat and Mouse", "Black Flowers", "Third Worlds"
Staring at the Wall 187–193 Mike Carey ISBN 1-40120-929-7 "Bred in the Bone", "Staring at the Wall"
Stations of the Cross 194–200 Mike Carey ISBN 1-40121-002-3 "Ward 24", "Out of Season", "Stations of the Cross", "Happy Families"
Reasons to be Cheerful 201–206 Mike Carey ISBN 1-84576-450-1 ISBN 1-40121-251-4 "Event Horizon", "Reasons to be Cheerful", "Cross Purpose"
The Gift 207–215 Mike Carey ISBN 1-40121-453-3 "Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go", "The Gift", "R.S.V.P."
Empathy is the Enemy 216–222 Denise Mina ISBN 1-40121-066-X "Empathy is the Enemy"
The Red Right Hand 223–228 Denise Mina ISBN 1-40121-342-1 "The Season of the Zealot", "The Red Right Hand"
Joyride 230–237 Andy Diggle ISBN 1-40121-651-X "In at the Deep End", "Wheels of Chance, Systems of Control", "Joyride"
The Laughing Magician 238–242 Andy Diggle ISBN 1-40121-853-9 "The Smoke", "The Passage", "The Laughing Magician", "The Mortification of the Flesh"

Other collections include:

Constantine: The Hellblazer Collection is a movie tie-in which collects the official film adaptation as well as Hellblazer numbers 1, 27 (written by Neil Gaiman), and 41. All of these issues are available in other collections: #1 in Original Sins, #41 in Dangerous Habits, and #27 in Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days, a collection of Gaiman-penned stories.

Hellblazer: Papa Midnite, collects the five-issue spin-off mini-series written by Mat Johnson. It is set during the early part of the "Staring at the Wall" story arc.

Hellblazer: Lady Constantine collects Andy Diggle's four-issue spin-off miniseries.

Graphic novels

There have also been a couple of original graphic novels:

All His Engines by Mike Carey involves Constantine trying to solve the mystery of a strange sickness sweeping the globe. It also includes a character summary and history of the series taken from Vertigo Secret Files: Hellblazer.

Hellblazer: Pandemonium by Jamie Delano and Jock, is scheduled for release in 2008, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the series.

Writers

Main Series

Specials and spin-offs

Short stories

  • Brian Azzarello ("The Origin of Vice" in Vertigo Secret Files: Hellblazer)
  • Mike Carey ("Exposed" in 9/11 Volume 2)
  • Jamie Delano ("Prodigal Son" in Vertigo Secret Files: Hellblazer)
  • Garth Ennis ("Tainted Love" in Vertigo Jam and "All Those Little Girls and Boys" in Winter's Edge 2)
  • Dave Gibbons ("Another Bloody Christmas" in Winter's Edge 3)
  • Paul Jenkins ("Tell Me" in Winter's Edge 1)

Cover artists

Main series

Note that Tim Bradstreet also supplied cover art for an unpublished version of issue 141. The story that would have appeared in this issue, "Shoot" by writer Warren Ellis and artist Phil Jimenez, was deemed unsuitable for publication after the Columbine shootings, as it focused on an FBI agent investigating school shootings.

Additionally, there were two covers commissioned for issue 218: the solicited one by Greg Lauren showing John Constantine being crucified, and the published one by Lee Bermejo showing Constantine lighting a cigarette in the wind. The reasons for the change of cover remain unknown.

Other Hellblazer covers have also been commissioned but not used, and are available for viewing here

Specials and spin-offs

Main interior artists

Main series

Note that Hellblazer #75 and #142 each contained two stories by two different artists. Issue 75 contained "Damnation's Flame part 4: Hail to the Chief" with art by Steve Dillon and "Act of Union" with art by William Simpson. Issue 142 contained "Setting Sun" with art by Javier Pulido and "One Last Love Song" illustrated by James Romberger.

Phil Jimenez supplied art for "Shoot", a Warren Ellis-penned tale focusing on high-school shootings that would have been the original issue 141. It was removed from the publishing schedule after the Columbine shootings occurred.

Specials and spin-offs

Short stories

Other media

Novels

Author John Shirley has written three Hellblazer-related novels: an adaptation of the film Constantine, released in 2005, and War Lord and Subterranean, a pair of original novels based around the Constantine seen in the comics, both of which were released in 2006.

Film

The first adaptation of Hellblazer ever filmed for the screen is one of the scenes in the documentary feature film The Mindscape of Alan Moore and was shot in early 2002. The dramatization consists of the John Constantine character wandering through London and in the film ending experiencing a mystical epiphany of sorts.

In 2005 Constantine was released, a feature film that did not use the same title as the comic book, although the protagonists were of the same name, and the main plot was loosely based on several specific issues.

References

External links

  • DC Comics - Complete Hellblazer issue #1 in PDF format
  • The Ultimate Hellblazer Index - Index of Hellblazer comic and John Constantine's appearances elsewhere
  • Hellblazer Trades - Timeline of John Constantine appearances in collected editions of DC and Vertigo comics
  • Straight To Hell - Fan site with issue summaries and discussion forum
  • The Sting connection - Interview with Alan Moore discussing the creation of John Constantine
  • Fresh - designs showing the evolution of the latest Hellblazer logo
  • Roots of the Swamp Thing - An exhaustively detailed timeline of the events of Vertigo's Swamp Thing and Hellblazer comic series.

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