COMIC BOOKS: Constantine

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Jul. 10—John Constantine, the Hellblazer, has been the subject of a movie starring Keanu Reeves, a short-lived television show, featured in several Warner Bros./DC animated films but, most of all, he's been a regular in DC and its one-time Vertigo imprint for nearly 40 years.

The trench coat-wearing, cigarette-smoking Brit occultist was first introduced as a supporting character in "Swamp Thing" back in the mid-1980s. Constantine's look was intentionally based on rock star Sting. Constantine is known for his droll wit and ruthless actions in dealing with demons and people.

Alan Moore, Rick Veitch, Steve Bissette and John Totleben are listed as his creators. Moore is the genius behind "Watchmen," "V for Vendetta," "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," etc.

Constantine earned his own comic book in the 1980s — "Hellblazer" ran for 25 years. Since the original title ended in 2013, the character has been reintroduced several times in runs that typically last a couple of years.

Ming Doyle, James Tynion IV, Riley Rossmo and Ivan Plascencia reintroduced the character in one of those runs, titled "Constantine: The Hellblazer."

With the first story arc from that run, "Going Down," the creators take Constantine on a path that had been referenced in his past but not fully explored. And there is the expected bits of wry humor and abject terror.

The art style is less realistic than many of the past depictions of the character and his world; it's a sorta Western manga look which seems an odd choice for Constantine but can quickly grow on a reader.

Constantine is worth a visit in this run but like any Constantine visit beware of the things that go bump in the night but be especially wary if a trench coat-wearing Brit arrives offering help.

Not a book for children.

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