Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am a life long comic book junkie, and if there’s any man that I would sell my sullied soul for a chance to meet, (which is apropos, because he could point me in the right direction in that regard) it’s the leader of the trenchcoat brigade himself, that scoundrel mage, that chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, unapologetically offensive, rough-living sweet devil of a man, John Constantine.
Perhaps it’s just symptomatic of my terrible taste in men, but I’ve had a crush on him ever since he appeared in those early Alan Moore Swamp Thing issues, a dead ringer for Sting (aka Gordon Sumner, aka the lead singer of The Police, aka the beautiful boy who sang Every Breath You Take — c’mon, everybody knows that one!), riding the synchronicity highway from one magical disaster to the next.
(Oh, and just as a side note to all the teenage girls out there — and some a wee bit older than that — who go goo goo ga ga over Misha Collins as Castiel in Supernatural — he totally stole that look from Constantine)
Now, I’m not saying that I’d be interested in romance, but the handsome devil certainly did have his share of women — of course, a lot of them are now a bit worse for wear. Like all John’s old friends, who often find themselves cast aside as dead weight by the survive-at-all-costs magician, or even used as sacrificial lambs if the situation should require it. No, it certainly isn’t good for one’s health to continue in the company of Constantine for very long.
Our John’s a magnificent bastard, by all accounts. He can pull the wool over the eyes of powerful demons, and come through the experience better off than when he began. He knows the secret pathways to heaven and hell and all stops in between. He can conjure with the best of them, but he’d rather use his wits, ’cause after all, magic always has its price. He’s funny and sardonic, ruthless and cold, and yet, when it comes to his family, deeply devoted and protective.
I know, I know — he’s a contradiction. But aren’t we all? John is a complicated soul, capable of blushing like a teenager when faced with the prospect of a first kiss, and at the same time, able to pull the plug on a friend without hesitation, leaving him trapped in hell. He’s a liar, a manipulator, and a sinner without remorse. He’s suffered more than most, and caused more suffering than should be forgivable.
But still, I love him. I love his cynicism, I love his solitary drive, I love his survival instinct, even if it does come at the cost of all others.
And yet — even John Constantine found love, and made a family of sorts. And if an enfant terrible like Constantine can do it, well, by god, so can I.
Sadly, John’s story at Vertigo comics has wrapped up, and he now lives only in our memories, and in the watered down, sanitized, pale reflection of himself in the ‘New 52’ DC universe (not that I have an opinion, darlings!), but we can always go back and re-visit the old haunts, like pulling an old sweater out of the closet, holding it to your face and breathing in the memories.
One of the things that made John’s story in Hellblazer special was that the character aged in what you might call ‘real-time’. Unlike Batman or Superman etc, who, if they aged properly, would be octogenarians by now, John wasn’t blessed with eternal youth. Like all of us, he grew older, wiser, learned from his mistakes, and had a history that, for the most part, aged with him. And today, May 10th, would be John’s 60th birthday. So, John, if you’re around, how’s about I meet you down the pub for a pint of Newcastle Brown, and raise a glass to the baddest hardass to ever grace the pages of a comic book.
Cheers, darling! Many happy returns.