Some saddening news from the world of comic books, as DC announces the cancellation of ‘John Constantine: Hellblazer’, the Vertigo imprints flagship, and longest running title at issue 300. I couldn’t pretend to be a long-time fan but Vertigo is what got me into comics a number of years ago, and the majority of my books bare their name on the spine. While most of my all-time favourite series are of the creator owned kind, ‘Hellblazer’ was without doubt my favourite company owned series, and revolved around my favourite individual character. Some of the best writers in the medium have worked on the series over the years and the quality of the stories has been consistently high. This cancellation has also been seen as a sign that the end could be near for the Vertigo imprint, previously the producers of the best comics around. Let’s hope that’s not the case.
Since his debut in a 1985 issue of ‘Swamp Thing’ Constantine’s been through a great deal and is one of the few characters who ages is real time and, while most of the stories can be seen as stand-along, past events are not forgotten.
It’s not the end for John Constantine though; he’s being rebooted in a DC-universe series ‘Constantine’. The trouble with this is that it will require the book to be toned down considerably to fit in with the other ‘new 52’ titles, which doesn’t suit the character so well. Now John already appears in one such book, supernatural team-up ‘Justice League Dark’ which is okay but unessential. Also now he’ll probably end up doing various crossovers with other DC ‘dark’ books, requiring more purchases, something ‘Hellblazer’ basically never did. Let’s just hope it can continue to give us compelling stories, and take full advantage of being able to use a young Constantine.
I do like that this news has been met with a nearly unanimous negative reaction so far, DC probably won’t pay attention but maybe after a while, they’ll allow their ‘dark’ range to evolve into a more mature audience aimed line again. After all, a lot of these characters did start as part of the DC universe back in the 80s, before eventually leading to the Vertigo line.
Still, if the rebooted version doesn’t last, ‘Hellblazer’ can claim to have made it to 300 issues, which is some achievement in its field.